Despite the many types of flooring options available, timber flooring remains a popular choice among homeowners. To protect the flooring, keep it looking great and ensure it has the longest life possible, timber requires a protective coating. Without an appropriate finish, the timber is left vulnerable to wear and tear, as well as the natural expansion and shrinkage that comes with temperature and humidity changes.
Coating the timber creates a protective barrier between the wood and the environment, as well as protecting it from physical damage.
There are a variety of timber floor finishes available on the market, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. Selecting the right finish for your flooring will depend on a variety of factors including the type of timber, the amount of foot traffic the flooring is subject to and the seasonal changes in your area.
It’s also important to consider the depth of colour and the level of gloss you want to achieve, as different coatings will have different visual characteristics.
The most common finishes are oil and water based polyurethane coatings and floor waxes. So let’s have a look at some of the different finishes in more detail.
Water-based polyurethane finishes, as the name suggests, use water as the base solvent instead of oil. This makes them more environmentally friendly and easier and safer to work with than oil-based finishes. They also don’t have the strong odour that comes with oil-based finishes.
Water-based polyurethane has many benefits over traditional oil-based finishes, including being lower in volatile organic compounds (VOCs), easier to apply, and quicker to dry. It also has a clear finish that will not yellow over time like oil-based polyurethanes.
Water-based polyurethane is ideal for use on timber floors as it helps to protect the wood from scratches, scuffs, and stains. It also enhances the natural colour of the timber and brings out the grain. Water-based finishes provide a more natural look and are good for light colour timbers. They are highly durable finishes that minimise the chance for edge bonding.
They are available in matte through to high-gloss finishes and won’t significantly darken over time.
Oil-based polyurethane timber floor finish is a type of protective coating that is applied to wooden floors. It consists of a base of oil, typically linseed or tung oil, combined with a polyurethane resin. This provides a hard-wearing, durable finish that is resistant to scratches and scuffs.
Oil-based finishes are more durable and longer lasting than water-based finishes, but they can be more difficult to apply and require more time to dry.
When choosing a polyurethane finish for your timber floor, it is important to consider the level of wear and tear it will need to withstand. For high traffic areas, an oil-based finish is a better option as it will stand up to more wear and tear. If you want a long lasting finish that will withstand heavy use, then oil-based is the best choice.
Solvent based polyurethanes also offer the highest gloss options for those looking to get a high-sheen finish to their flooring.
Timber floor wax is a type of product that is designed to protect and enhance the appearance of wooden floors. It is typically made from a blend of natural waxes, oils and other ingredients. They can often be 100% natural, eco-friendly and toxin free.
Floor wax can be applied by hand or with a machine, and it typically needs to be reapplied every few months to maintain its efficacy. In addition to providing protection against scratches and scuffs, floor wax also helps to bring out the natural beauty of the wood grain. As a result, it is a popular choice for homeowners who want to keep their wooden floors looking like new.
Floor wax is microporous, meaning that it allows the timber to breathe. This can be a positive in climates like Australia’s, where changes in humidity and air temperature can cause timber to swell and shrink. If the timber can’t breathe, these environmental changes can sometimes lead to cracks and splits in the timber.
When it comes to timber flooring polishing, it’s important to understand the different options and select the one that is best suited to your flooring and your lifestyle.