What sheen to use? Oil based or water based? What’s the difference?
Water based finish:
Pros: Water based finish is faster drying and low in VOC making it a green product. It is wise to apply 3 coats of finish when using water based to ensure the hardness of your floors. Furniture can be placed back in the home after 48 hours, although we advise that rugs and runners wait 5-7 days before being placed down so that the floors can cure properly.
Cons: Water-based finish is liked by most customers with the only con being that it hasn’t been around as long as an oil based finish.
Oil based finish (Solvent Based Finish):
Pros: Oil based finish has been around since the 1900s. It is a very durable finish.
Cons: Oil based takes longer to dry and it’s fumes are much stronger. It is recommended that furniture not be replaced for 3-5 days so that the floors have time to cure. It may not be the best option for any person suffering from allergies.
Sheen refers to how shiny your floors will be. To ensure that you are satisfied with the finished product of your floors, have your hardwood flooring contractor provide you with samples or at the very least, pictures of the different sheens available. Options include matte, satin, semi-gloss and gloss; everyone’s taste is different and it is a lot easier on you and your contractor if you hammer out what you want from the beginning so that both parties are happy with the results.
Matte Finish: A soft, low shine finish that allows the natural wood tone and grain pop out. With this option, many imperfections and scratches that may happen down the road will not be as noticeable.
Satin Finish: This tends to be the most popular finish used. It offers a medium shine that hides imperfections well and provides a nice, smooth finish.
Semi-Gloss Finish: This has a medium/high shine that offers a reflection but covers imperfections better than high gloss.
High Gloss Finish: This is a highly reflective finish that some homeowners opt for. Keep in mind, that any dust, dents, foot marks or scratches will be highly visible in your floors.
Give your floors time to mature. All floors have the tendency to leave behind small imperfections, many temporary in nature. Contractors and manufacturers are used to these quirks but we realize they may be a little bit of a shock when you see your floor for the first time. With this in mind, here is a list of possible yet temporary outcomes after a finish application.
Seasonal cupping of hardwood floors:
Cupping is, on occasion, another area of concern with hardwood floors. The term “cupping” is when the edges of a board are high, and the center is low. Some slight cupping and/or crowning is normal. This is a natural product and this phenomenon in most cases should be tolerated. The only thing that can cause cupping is a moisture imbalance in the wood. Especially in fall season, there is an exceptional increase in moisture, and is attributed to warm and wet spring and summer weather. When it is warm outside we are not operating the heating systems in our homes, and we are also likely to have our doors and windows open which introduces humidity into our homes. This humidity is then immersed into the hardwood flooring. So what should be done?
Our recommendation is to do nothing. The floor will usually flatten out considerably through the next heating season. This is not an uncommon problem in our area and it usually corrects itself. Using a moisture meter to check MC (moisture content) in flooring and subfloors before installation is a key step we take to avoid future problems. All qualified contractors and suppliers take these precautions to narrow the chances of moisture related problems.
Cracks in hardwood floors:
Cracks are the most common cause of complaints on wood floors, and this problem in recent years has intensified by pastel and white (or pickled/bleached) finish colors, which tend to make normal cracks appear much larger than when earth-tone or natural finishes are used. It is normal for the interior of homes to become dry during heating seasons. As explained above, under this circumstance wood floors also dry out and shrink slightly. Properly made and properly installed wood floors are expected to have “hairline cracks” between boards in dry months in most areas of North America. Depending on the width of the boards used, the size of the room and the severity and duration of low outside temperatures (the intensity of heating), the term “hairline cracks” can have various interpretations.
Generally, “hairline cracks” can be considered to be “normal” if in strips 2-¼” wide or less:
-They close up during non-heating months, and
-They are not wider than the thickness of a dime in some locations, and vary from the thickness of a piece of paper in most areas to scattered larger cracks up to the thickness of a dime.
Plank or strip floors sometimes “panelize” due to shifting of under floor construction, or if the finish cements individual boards into panels so that all the shrinkage is concentrated into only a few cracks, with other joints remaining tight together. In this event, the cracks that do appear will be wider than the thickness of a dime. Plank floors (because of the widths involved) and some parquet floors, can shrink individually up to 2½ times as much as 2¼” strip floors.
Cracks that result can then be much larger than in strip, and still be normal. If the floor expands so that cracks disappear in high humidity seasons, this should be considered normal.
Note: Much of the information referenced above comes directly from the National Oak Flooring Manufacturers’ Association, and from the local business of Hardwood Flooring Distributors, Inc.
Finishes Blemishes & Debris Settling resins can stress the appearance of blemishes in the early stages of a floor’s life. Any small debris, such as tiny airborne particles in your house, can refract light more during this time. Keep in mind that almost all blemishes disappear completely as the finish sets.
Length of time before you should become concerned: 60-90 days
Discoloration Many types of wood are susceptible to slight discolorations with other types of finish. However, the vast majority of wood types will receive a color enhancement by Glitsa Swedish finish. As the finish sets, you may see very slight color differentiations in you wood floor. These differentiations are normal and will most likely even out.
Length of time before you should become concerned: 60-90 days
Uneven Sheen Many factors can contribute to uneven sheen. Dramatic factors such as humidity, temperature, and varying wood species’ composition can make the application process tricky, leading to possible uneven application. As with color differentiation, sheen variance should even out over time.
Length of time before you should become concerned: 120 days
Screen Marks, Brush Stokes & Abrasions Minor screen or brush marks may remain slightly visible during the initial drying phases. Likewise, small underlying abrasions may seem almost painfully obvious at first. Be assured that as the finish sets, resins tighten across the wood, and may of these marks will seem to disappear during the process.
Length of time before you should become concerned: 60 – 90 days
Overall, you will save yourself quite a bit of stress and grief if you remember that it’s not uncommon to have some minor defects in a finished floor. Small, temporary side-effects will almost always disappear during the curing and maturation process. It is very much like the small cut or blemish on your arm as a child that faded very quickly and has since disappeared entirely. Please understand that this process is normal.
If, however, these side-effects are still obvious after the above-mentioned time allotments, it may be time to call your contractor.
When inspecting your new wood floor, remember to do so from a standing position with normal lighting. Glare, particularly from large windows, magnifies any irregularity in the floor and should not determine acceptance. Again, small irregularities such as those listed here may be present but should not be prominent when inspected from a standing position. Stop and give your floor time to mature.
All floors have a tendency to leave behind minor imperfections, many temporary in nature. Contractors and manufacturers are accustomed to these small quirks, but we realize they may be a bit startling when seeing your floor for the first time.
*Standards set forth by the National Wood Flooring Association in the NWFA hardwood floor manual. For more information about Glitsa American Quality finishes, please call (800) 527-8111.