The effects of water on timber floors can vary. The most common problem experienced when timber floors come into contact with wood via accidents or seepage is cupping or crowning. This is caused by the swelling of the wood and subsequent buckling. In some cases it can be so extreme that the entire floor or at least a portion of the floor needs to be removed and replaced. When floor sanding timber floors that are moist or damp, reactions to the applied coatings can occur. The result of a damp floor that has been coated with floor finishes or stains is the areas affected turn a white or opaque colour. This is due to the transference of moisture particles into the floor finishes. Unfortunately, the only way to rectify the problem is to ensure the floor moisture problem is corrected prior to complete re sanding and finishing.
What is an environmentally friendly sealer?
It is important to note and understand what makes a product environmentally friendly. Volatile organic compounds(VOC) are found in all floor finishes, paints and many other products used around the home. It is these compounds that are believed to be harmful to the environment.
levels of VOC in timber floor finishes vary from one product to another, to be considered environmentally friendly, products must contain VOC levels lower than traditional floor finishes. VOC levels can be as high as 950g per litre of product. To be considered environmentally friendly, products generally need to have less than 350g of VOC per litre of finish.
Unlike other parts of the world Australia currently has minimal VOC regulations regarding the use and manufacture of floor finishes both domestically and commercially.
There are many products available to Australian floor sanding professionals, the most commonly used environmentally friendly floor finish is single part water based sealers. Finished timber floors uses only 2 part commercial grade water based floor finishes.
Choosing a floor finish
Australian floor sanding contractors and consumers have the choice of traditional polyurethane, oil based, water based, hybrid oil/water based urethanes, natural oils and tree oils.
Clients are often not informed on the benefits of using water based floor finishes. When floor finishes are applied to the floor they begin to evaporate, traditional oil and solvent based products release solvent vapours into the home and environment. Volatile organic compounds which may harm both humans and pets linger for months within the home and furnishings.
Effects of these fumes vary depending on the individual, these include dizziness, headache and nausea. Over exposure is believed to increase sensitivity to skin complaints.
Why use water based sealers?
After water based products are applied to a polished floor water evaporates leaving the solids and matting agents behind. Choosing to use water based products clients can dramatically reduce exposure to volatile organic compounds.
Other benefits of using water based sealers are a faster drying time which allow clients to return to the areas quicker. Non yellowing properties also offer a positive reason to select these products, floors will maintain their natural look and colour for longer.
Why would I NOT use a water based environmentally friendly floor finish to sealer my wooden floor boards?
The most common reason people do not choose a water based or natural oil product to seal their timber floors is the cost. Cost of these materials is significantly higher than more traditional oil and solvent based products, often 4 times the cost of solvent based polyurethane, tung and modified oils.
Preparation of your wood floor prior to finishing is also more detailed and time consuming. The application of a water based product or natural wood oil requires a skilled and experience floor finisher to achieve a professional finish.
Can I use water based products on any wood floor?
With Australia’s many different species of wood it is important to take into consideration the compatibility of timber sealers with various wood species prior to application.
I would always recommend the use of an environmentally friendly floor finish for clients, however, when working with particularly resinous timbers such as Australia’s box timbers, I would generally recommend a natural wood oil or 2 pack polyurethane.
Certain timbers may reject various floor finishes. It is imperative that a skilled tradesman is employed to recommend the best product for individual requirements.
Are environmentally friendly floor finishes difficult to maintain and as durable as traditional finishes?
When using a water based sealer it is important to use a commercial grade 2 part product available from many companies. Single part products do not have the durability that consumers expect and will most likely need refinishing in just a few years.
The maintenance of these commercial grade products are the same as traditional products requiring only periodical cleaning with a ph balanced cleaning product.
Natural oils will need to be periodically re oiled to maintain and prolong the finish.
How to prepare your home for floor sanding and polishing
In order to prepare your home for floor sanding and finishing many factors need to be considered to achieve the best result.
Most clients will already appreciate the effort needed to clear the premises from all furniture and household items prior to work commencing. Unfortunately, this is only the tip of the iceberg as far as being prepared for the successful completion of the floor sanding and polishing process.
The information that will follow has been collected during my years of practical experience when producing finished timber floors.
What to do prior to the arrival of our team
Remove all furniture and household items from the rooms that are to be sanded and finished. This includes fridges, dishwashers, paintings or any other items in the area. No liability or claims will be accepted for damage to any item that remains in or around the areas working in.
All existing floor coverings including carpet, smooth edge, staples, vinyl, etc need to be removed from the floors. Please note that quotes may include this service.
All electrical power points and lighting need to be active in all rooms to be worked on. 1 power lead from 1 source ie the power box on new developments will not be adequate to run the high powered equipment needed to sand your floors.
Driveway’s should be kept clear and ready to load heavy machinery at all times.
As a condition of work cover and practices it is required that toilet facilities be made available during the the times within your home or business.
Please secure your children and animals away from the areas at all times during the time taken to complete work. Responsibility or liability will be on the home or business owner for any loss or damage that occurs to the floors as a result of children or pets allowed to access the areas being worked on.
No access to the areas will be allowed at any time until work has been completed and handed over to the client upon full payment.
This means no person is to enter the areas worked on until the final coat has been applied, dried and cured for 24hrs. If clients choose to inhabit the premises surrounding the areas to be work on it becomes the their responsibility to ensure all measures are taken to secure the areas.
It is the owners, clients, or builders responsibility to secure all windows, doors, gates etc during the work contracted.
Please ensure the premises are secure from water leaks and excessive moisture. No responsibility for damage or problems caused by homes affected by water leaks or excessive moisture within or under the floors. Reactions to floor finishes that occur as a result of moisture present within the home during, prior to or after the work has been completed will be the home owners responsibility.
Please leave on all window coverings, this will help protect the floor finishes from the sun during the finishing process. If your home does not have window furnishings or curtains that touch the floor please contact us for information on how to best find solutions that allow successful completion of the work.
It is the owners responsibility to keep doors and windows closed during the drying times. Any opening and closing of doors that allow dust and hair etc to enter the areas worked on will not be the responsibility of the contractor.
What to expect once all work has been completed
All work that will be carried out is prepared by hand controlled tools and machinery, and as a result, slight evidence of this will be found on the floor under close inspection. We at all times strive to produce the best possible result for your floors, depending on the chosen floor finish and or products and also site conditions, it can be normal to notice a variety of inconsistency that may concern some consumers.
Industry and Australian standards allow for minor imperfections within or suspended within the coating system. These include, machine marks, dust particles, putty depressions, minor swirl marks, roller, brush or lap marks, minor gloss variations, possible hair and brush bristle, possible insects including flies, ants and other foreign matter that may settle on the floor prior to or during the drying time. In conclusion, it should be noted that although your floor will be completed to the high standard as outlined, your floor will not be finished the same way as fine furniture or a pre factory finished floor. Your floor is intended to be durable enough to last many years walked on and is suited to this purpose as a timber floor.
We take care to minimise dust created during the sanding and finishing process, we will take every effort to remove and clear any residual dust from the premise. It is, however, to be expected that some dust will remain within your home. It is the clients responsibility to secure the premises or surrounding areas from dust created during the floor sanding process.
Prior to the acceptance of the quote and work carried out you will have been shown either samples or photos of the finishes that are to be applied to your floors. By entering into a contract with us you understand the variations that can or may occur during the finishing process. We do not guarantee the stains or finishes used on your floors will be identical to those samples or photos you have viewed prior to entering a contract with us. Samples and photos are intended as an indication only of what to expect. You may notice many variations in colour and finish based of the fact that your site conditions and light will affect the resulting look of stains and floor finishes for example incandescent, sunlight and fluorescent light will affect the look, colour and gloss level of your floor.
Skirting and kick boards should be left unpainted or primed only as it is to be expected that some machines, stains or floor finish will come in contact with these areas. Kitchen kick boards should be left off should kitchens be installed prior to floor sanding.
When working on old timber floors it is expected that the final result will depend on the condition of the floor. Stains, cuts, gouges, gaps, splits, borer holes etc will most likely still be visible once the work has been completed.
New floors should be protected and looked after during building works prior to floor sanding. We take no responsibility for stains, cuts, marks etc that remain after the floor sanding and finishing process has been completed.
It is the clients responsibility to arrange full payment on the day of the application of final coat. Final payments that are not received on the day may result in the final coat not being applied until payment has been confirmed.
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