Finish on pine floors


Old 05-22-01, 10:06 AM
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I have southern yellow pine floors that I am hiring someone to refinish, mostly to get them down to their original color. But I am torn about the type of finish to use:
poly or a penetrating seal. I have pets and am afraid the poly will look very worn in only a few years. But if i go with a penetrating seal, do I need to following that up with wax or can the seal be the finish?
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Old 05-22-01, 03:31 PM
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Pentrating finishes

Wood fibers absorb penetrating finishes. These finishes are oils. Most often a wax is applied to the surface. The finish tends to have a matte or satin appearance. Maple and cherry do not absorb stains as evenly as other wood species, so if you have maple or cherry you will want to use a natural (no color) penetrating finish. If you go with a sealed and waxed finish, do NOT damp mop. When you wax with a solvent-based wax, soil and old wax are dissolved. Buffing is recommended. The wax provides a protective coating for the floor.
Old 05-23-01, 01:34 PM
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Question Finish on pine floors

If I have a wax protectant applied over the penetrating seal, how do I maintain/clean if mopping is out of the question?
Also, I have visions of the wax build up, the wax becoming "gunky" on the floor...does this happen?
In general, are penetrating seal+wax finishes easier to maintain by the homeowner than poly floors?
Old 05-24-01, 02:51 PM
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Maintaining floor finish

Polyurethane finish floors are very popular today. Perhaps one of the reasons is they are lower maintenance from the perspective of cleaning, as they do not require waxing. Other than running a dust mop or the brush attachment on the vaccuum over them to keep them free of dust and grit that can harm the finish, they require an occasional damp mopping with a product recommended for poly finishes. It is very important that poly floor finishes be kept clean because of the potential damage to the surface from grit.

Penetrating finishes are protected by wax that is applied to the surface. Wax buildup is not a problem if you wax with a solvent based paste wax. The fresh coat of wax dissolves the old coat and soil as the new coat is applied. Folks tend not to like having to do the job of waxing and buffing, which is done once or twice a year. It requires moving the furniture, opening doors and windows because the wax is smelly, and an investment of your time. Running the dust mop or brush attachment on the vacuum keeps the floor clean between waxings. High traffic areas may acquire additional waxing. An occasional buffing between waxing will help maintain the shine.

From the perspective of first aid for floors, poly finish floor repairs may be beyond the skills of the average DIY. Even you you manage with steel wool or sandpaper to remove an area of damaged finish, often the new finish will not blend well. Many manufacturers of prefinished hardwood are offering touch up kits for their particular finish. On sealed and waxed floors, however, fine steel wool and mineral spirits will solve most problems and the floor finish can be touched up, if necessary, and rewaxed and buffed. Fine scratches tend to occur in the wax and are easily waxed and buffed out. From this perspective, floors with sealed and waxed finishes are more maintenance free.

Polyurethane is a surface finish that offers protection to the wood by providing a protective coat on top. The penetrating finishes protect the wood from within. Polyurethane finishes tend to wear off wood, especially in high traffic areas. Some of the factory applied finishes on prefinished hardwood today have addressed this problem by adding chemicals to make the polyurethane harder. Some seal the polyurethane with a coat of aluminum oxide, making for a very durable and scratch resistant finish with a 25-year warranty. As penetrating finishes are protected by a coat of wax, as long as the floor is kept waxed, especially in high traffic areas, it is possible that this type of floor should never require refinishing unless the floor became damaged such as with deep scratches in the wood.

Whatever type of finish you have, as long as it is well maintained, it will provide years of beauty and durability.

Old 05-30-01, 12:10 PM
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Poly: Waterborne or solvent-based?

So if I do go with a poly surface finish, what are your thoughts on waterborne versus solvent/oil-based?

I'd prefer waterborne, since it dries quicker and, most importantly, it's much less toxic and smells less than oil-based. I've heard the argument that it doesn't hold up as well as oil-based. But in talking with some people, seeing friend's floors that were refinished with waterborne urethane (six years ago and they look like they were done yesterday), and doing my own reading, it seems maybe those claims can't be made anymore with today's products. Pacific Strong waterborne urethane was recommended...


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