Low maintenance wood floor finishes for high traffic areas

Today, we have an article from the Floor Sanding Experts who have shared with use some great advice about maintaining wooden flooring using a range of techniques. If you don’t have wooden flooring and are considering having some installed, Anglian Home Improvements have a great selection of hard wood flooring that you can see here. If you already have wooden flooring this article on wood floor finishes will be ideal for you!

A wealth of floor finishing possibilities are available to the dedicated DIY’er and home improvement fan these days. From exotic stains and lacquers to organic oils and waxes, you can pretty much achieve almost any finish you want to. Silk or matt, high gloss or shabby chic, the choice is yours.

But one important factor will dictate your choice of finish, and that’s the level of traffic your wooden floor has to cope with. For low traffic areas such as bedrooms, the problem isn’t that serious. But in high-traffic areas such as hallways, stairs and even in commercial surroundings, you will need to factor in an extra level of robustness and durability to your chosen finish. So what choices do you have?

Beautiful wooden flooring

Varnish and lacquer – the tough guys on the parquet block…

Traditionally, high traffic wooden floors have been giving a tough outer layer by using industrial strength varnishes or lacquers. However, these have a few drawbacks:
• They’re high-shine and slippery with a rather unattractive ‘plastic’ look
• They tend to discolour the natural tones of the wood underneath
• They’re an absolute nightmare to remove when it’s time for a re-sand
• They don’t allow the wood to ‘breathe’

However, varnishes and lacquers, like many other finishes, have come a long way since the 1970s, and today’s tough guys are much more suitable for all types of high traffic areas. Gone is the ultra-shine and unattractive look of old varnishes and you can now choose from matt, silk and satin finishes that give a much more natural appearance. Varnish is made from polyurethane, so it’s not a ‘natural’ material. This means that it will still stop your wooden floor from breathing, but it will also provide a practically impermeable top layer that will protect the wood underneath from scratches, scuffs and marks.

However, do bear in mind the safety aspect of the area you’re planning to finish, as lacquers and varnishes can produce quite a slippery finish. So you may want to consider other options on stairways and on upstairs landings, for example.

Varnishes and lacquers are quickly applied and are usually dry within 1-3 hours, and cured within 24-72 hours.

Wine on a beautiful Timberland floor

Waxes and stains

Although not as robust as lacquers and varnishes, waxes, oils and stains still represent a good choice for high traffic areas. However, there is one practicality you may have to consider when applying these to an area that tends to be busy – they take quite a while to apply. Which means you could end up with passers-by either stepping over you, or even worse, stepping on freshly applied staining and then walking it through the house! So if you are going to use stain, wax or oils then make sure you set aside plenty of time to complete the job without interruption.

Stains and oils penetrate deep into the wood, whereas waxes tend to ‘sit’ more on the surface, so if you choose a wax finish you may discover that it wears quite quickly. Oils and stains will take up to 24 hours to dry, whereas wax doesn’t have a drying time and can be walked on as soon as it’s been applied.

Whatever finish you go for, it’s worth spending a little time considering the amount of wear and tear it will be subjected to, and if you’re in any doubt as to what finish is best for a high traffic area, talk to a professional floor sanding expert for some extra advice.

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