by Richard Catlin
When it comes to Timber Floors, coatings make a big difference
In a society that continues to evolve at an increasing pace, there always seems to be a new invention that supersedes everything that has gone before it. Timber Floor coatings is a product category that seems to encapsulate this theory. It’s true that generally the performance of coating systems continue to improve however it’s also important to appreciate that all coatings have benefits and down sides. Some coatings may be great for one type of timber or environment but not so good for another.
Here a brief summary of the types of coating systems available;
Waterborne Polyurethane Coatings – This natural looking finish has does not “yellow” with age and is proving to be a more popular finish in recent years. Waterborne coatings tend to develop colours that are closer to the original tones in the timber. They contain only about a quarter of the toxic chemicals in comparison to solvent based finishes which is considerably better for your family and the environment. There is a distinct trend towards this type of finish as the technology and wear resistance of waterborne products has improved considerably with improved formulations. Waterborne finishes are available in 1 and 2 pack varieties. 2 pack products are harder wearing with greater scratch resistance and as you would expect slightly more expensive. Waterborne coatings are available in: Gloss, Satin and Matt sheen levels
Solvent Based Polyurethane – The high build glass look of this coating forms a protective layer of plastic across the timber surface. This finish has been in the market for many years and offers the highest level of gloss obtainable. However, solvent coatings do contain a high volume of VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) and as a result, floors should be left to cure for 1 to 2 weeks before a home is inhabited after coatings have been completed. Solvent coatings will also change in colour over time. This is particularly noticeable in light floors which gradually take on a more golden yellow appearance whereas red timbers such a Jarrah will develop stronger red tones after application of solvent based coatings. Solvent based coatings are available in: Gloss, Semi-Gloss, Satin and Low Sheen finishes
Mixed System (solvent sealer, waterborne top coats) – Many contractors have through trial come to the view that the best coating system involves using a solvent based sealer with waterborne top coats. This system can work but the following should be considered;
Some manufacturers will not warranty a waterborne coating that has used a solvent sealer. Enviropro is a waterborne system that is warranted when applied with a Toby’s GF barrier seal. Bosch Timber Floors recommends this as a preferred system when customers wish to have a mixed system.
This system does tend to improve the presentation of red timber such as jarrah however it can lead to a small amount of yellowing on lighter timbers such as blackbutt
Hard Wax Oil Finishes – Oil based coatings are gaining interest as an alternative finish with its own niche. Oil finishes penetrate into the timber where as other finishes sit on top of the timber. The result is a more rustic and true timber finish with the colour darkening a little as compared to other finishes. A challenge with this finish has been how easy it is to scratch the surface. However, scratches are easily spot repaired with this coating which is generally not possible with other coating types. Bosch Timber Floors offer and promote the high-quality Whittle Waxes ranges available in Satin and Matt and finishes.
Each timber floor has its own unique appeal and deserves the best possible protective surface. The choice and application of the finishing coats will impact presentation & wear of the completed floor. To get the result you want, make sure you look at different coating examples in showrooms and talk to a knowledgeable timber flooring consultant who can provide the best advice on the best coating system for your needs.
For more information about suitable coatings for your timber floor, speak to the experienced team at Bosch Timber Floors and we’ll guide you through the process.