If you elect for a more common surface finish, the key to durability relies in a combination of elements. You may here some contractors make a blanket statement that the finish they use is the best or longest lasting, which is not entirely true. What makes a wood floor finish durable is a combination of factors: application rate, sanding quality, resin content, and catalyzation method.
Application rate– Wood floor finish has a specific application rate for optimal durability. If a finish manufacturer specifies a finish should be applied at 350 square feet per gallon, but a contractor applies the finish at 600 square feet per gallon, then the client is getting a less durable finish coat applied.
Sanding quality-We have already covered this, but a floor that has been sanded and still has a coarse surface will absorb finish considerably. So instead of the finish resting on top of the floor, the finish now gets buried into deep sanding grooves in the floor from inadequate sanding.
Resin content-Related to application rate, but resin content is the percent of resin (the stuff protecting the floor) that is in a gallon of finish. The trick is that higher resin content can increase surface tension of a finish making it more difficult to apply. Some manufacturers will decrease solids content of a finish to decrease manufacturing costs and to aid in ease of use of the finish. Some floor finish can have a solids content of 26% per gallon, while other finishes have a solids content nearing 50% per gallon. So the composition of the finish has great deal to do with longevity of your wood floors.
Catalyzation method– Most commonly available surface finishes rely on either air or a chemical catalyst to harden and cure the finish. Traditional polyurethane is a finish that relies upon air to cure and harden, so it is more susceptible to premature wear. Chemically catalyzed floor finish dries and cures faster and is far less impacted by conditions such as weather. Using a chemically catalyzed finish adds to the cost of a project, but shortens the move-in time and adds additional durability to your floors.
In an effort to sell jobs, contractors are often guilty of touting their preferred finish as ultra-tough, which tends to convey the idea of minimal maintenance on behalf of homeowners. There are a lot of exceptional wood floor finishes available, but all of them require attention to maintenance if you want longevity for your wood floors. After your job is completed, you will need to remove fine particulates from the floor on a regular basis. Sand, dirt, and small rocks can get embedded in shoes and shorten the life of a floor. We recommend walk-off mats and small rugs at high traffic areas and frequent entry spots in the home. Felt pads should be secured under any furniture that moves frequently such as dining chairs. Any furniture that has rolling wheels can crush the wood fibers of a floor, so area rugs should be under rolling chairs.
Pets are the single biggest concern regarding wood floors. The formula is simple, groom their nails on a regular basis. I have not identified a floor finish that can stand up to playing tug of war or fetch inside of your home with your dog, so please use caution. This is typically too extreme for a floor finish and is not warrantable.
We really hope that the information on this page helps you decode the details necessary to have your wood floors refinished so that they last for a long time. Everything that we have written for your education is generic in nature so that you understand our intent. We simply intend to help you level the playing field when getting estimates.