What’s In a Finish

Posted On February 28th, 2017

What’s In a Finish

We are Wood floors have been around us for centuries and earlier they were a little more than raw planks nailed to the supporting timbers. A long time back, wooden flooring went through a transformation as artisans experimented with sanding, staining and elaborate patterned inlays to bring out more elaborate visual effects. Since that time, it seems, wood is scarcely seen in its natural raw state. Adding something to it in order to treat it for a better look and performance is quite common.  

For years, a variety of varied surface treatments have developed for wood flooring. Their aim was partly practical, partly artistic. A finish would help to perpetuate and protect the wood, and could make cleaning and maintenance more convenient. There are coatings which add gloss and color for an enhanced natural contrast and character of the wood.  There also exist water and oil based finishes, acid-cured and moisture cured options with their advantages and disadvantages. The most commonly used class of finishes today are polyurethane finishes.   

A site finish to a factory applied one is still the preference of many installers in today’s scenario. But majority of hardwood floors are partially undone as the finish is applied at the time of manufacturing at the mill or factory, using a specially designed piece of machinery called a finishing line

Apart from the self-evident pros of speed, prefinishing has other benefits over site finishing as well.

  1. It’s much cleaner to install as there is no on site sanding and finish application.
  2. There is less likelihood of releasing harmful VOCs into the installation environment during setting it up in place
  3. As the finish is catered to the end-user fully cured, there is virtually no off gassing over time
  4. The finish is cured in a controlled environment, ensuring thorough results
  5. The finish is applied mechanically, resulting in a more consistent application
  6. The flooring is ready to use at a short notice after installation

Given below is a typical list of the steps involved in a wood floor finish:

First, a stain is applied, to magnify the natural grain patterns and color of the wood or to actually change the color of the wood to a certain tone.

In some species and grades, fillers may be used to fill cracks, knots or other small voids in the material.  

primer is applied to enable better grip of the finish to the wood.

Next is the sealing coats. These are consecutive layers of polyurethane which are coated, UV cured, and then lightly sanded before the next coat is applied. 

Finally, a top coat of polyurethane is applied, which is specially formulated to provide appended properties such as scratch, dent, slip and stain resistance, improved gloss retention, and so on.

The bottom line is that the customers are concerned with the duration of the finish warranty at the end of the day. With advancing technology, we can easily get 50 year wear warranty on premium quality prefinished floors.

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