Wood floors are beautiful, but it does take work to maintain them. If you aren’t sure about the type of wood or finish you want for your floors, the following information will give you the information you need. Choosing the type of wood and finish is very important. Different woods and finishes are available. For a clear plastic look, surface seal your floor to make it water and stain resistant. You can do it yourself if you are good at home improvement. You will need to have all the doors and windows open and work on a bright sunny day. Your hardware dealer will tell you what is required to do the job.
Wood floors are a large investment and they get more wear than anything in the house. When choosing flooring, remember that solid colored floors show soil more quickly than patterned ones. Spills are more noticeable on light rather than dark floors. Heavily used floors need more attention than less traveled ones. Save on cleaning by placing mats at entrances to prevent dirt being tracked all over the house. The most popular and available flooring is oak, but choices also include hickory, maple cherry and other hard woods, as well as pine, which is a less expensive flooring. You can buy unfinished wood, which is cheaper, if you would like to stain or varnish it yourself.
Varnish (Photo credit: Peter Kaminski)
To care for your wood floors, if your floor looks clear as a piece of plastic, it has likely been surface sealed, making it stain and water resistant. Remove dirt regularly by sweeping with a broom, lightweight vacuum cleaner, or a dust mop. Damp mop with a mild detergent occasionally. Wring out your mop well, and change cleaning water often.
Penetrating sealed floors have been coated with acrylic, oil, or wax that has penetrated the surface and soaked into the pores of the wood, hardening there. It usually has a matte or a satin finish. This finish does not provide as much protection as surface sealed finishes. Remove sticky marks with a damp cloth, not wet. Don’t mop. A penetrated sealed floor that becomes dull can be rebuffed. From time to time apply a coat of wax with fine steel wool.
It’s time to refinish a sealed surface floor when the finish is worn through or the surface is badly nicked. Deep scratches, split or warped boards, and other damage are signs that the floor needs to be repaired or replaced. Consider hiring a professional if the floor is uneven or needs repairs. Expect days of sanding, dust and fumes.
To help you choose the type of varnish, it rests largely on the look you want. Costs vary greatly between water based and solvent based varnishes. Water based varnish drys faster and it’s easier cleanup, with excellent ultraviolet resistance. However, solvent based varnish tends to go further and cost less per square foot. It is also slower drying between coats and messier cleanup, which means it takes more days to finish the job which can be costlier if you don’t do the job yourself.
All varnished floors require multiple coats, especially in high traffic areas. Water based varnish needs an hour or two to dry between coats, and requires four coats. Solvent products need five hours to overnight to dry. Floors using Solvent based products require three coats. Give any floor a couple of days for the varnish to cure before walking on it.
Published in: Do-It-Yourself