At Nigel Baldwin Floors, we provide an extensive range of products from traditional finishes, staining and tinting, to the environmentally friendly and other alternative natural products that will bring your floor back into the modern market place. Your home environment and furnishings is always our first consideration, and we will customise your quote to reflect your product needs including colour matching, staining, tinting, penetrating oils and waxes, and the many other options available that we are happy to recognise within our range and maybe essential to obtain the right finish for your flooring project.
Solvent Based: Polyurethanes are best described as a “liquid plastic” which dry and then harden after being rolled out. The most common polyurethanes today are solvent, or “spirit” based. It requires three coats to provide the correct amount of build, creating three separate layers of “film”. Once the layers start to wear through, total re-sanding is ideal. We don’t recommend “re-coating” an existing coat. It is more often than not, unsuccessful, as a greater degree of surface preparation is required to remove surface contamination, to achieve sufficient adhesion of the additional coat.
Solvent based polyurethane provides the highest gloss option for those who desire a shiny timber floor, with subdued gloss options if required. They can, and will yellow over time, which can be undesirable. Solvent-based Polyurethanes are the most durable and hard-wearing of all coating choices. Due to their strength, some two-pack Polyurethanes can “glue” the floorboards together, causing a problem commonly recognised as “edge-bonding”. They are also at risk of rejection or contamination from the natural oils and saps in timbers. This must be taken into consideration, especially when coating exotic species such as Brush Box or Spotted Gum. They have strong solvents and high levels of toxicity, including isocyanate content. The contractor is required to wear protective respiratory equipment.
Polyurethane (Water Based): Unlike solvent based polyurethane, the polymer is floating in a water based solution instead of chemicals. There are varied combinations within the water-based polyurethane category including acrylic-polymer blends. Like the solvent-based, three coats are required and the durability will range, depending on product, from low wear to even being considered as durable as a solvent-based poly. Some of the harder two-pack water-based polyurethanes can still cause “edge-bonding”, but it is less likely. It is recommended that any new flooring be coated with water based poly. They will not yellow over time, but can darken somewhat, and are considered a more natural look, while still providing a polyurethane “film-build” wear quality. They are also less susceptible to rejection or contamination from the natural saps and oils contained in the timber. Edge-bonding is not an issue with this type, although some of the harder two-pack water-based polyurethanes can bond in joins and stretch when movement occurs, forming a pale line. Of course, the main advantage of these coatings is their being a much healthier and more environmentally considerate option, having no strong chemicals or odours upon application. They are, however, a higher cost than solvent-based and this will be reflected in a contractor’s overall charges.
This is a combination of curing oils and polyurethane, where the urethane content has been replaced with oils to a certain proportion. This gives it some durability as per a film-building coat, but with the flexibility and ease of application of an oil. Please beware of regarding these types of coatings as “oils”. Oils are regarded as very natural, with low toxicity. Whereas oil modified urethanes are a combination of solvent-based polyurethane and oils, and still contain some VOC’s and a polymer film. Being a compromised urethane, their durability is low, as is their cost. They will also yellow more excessively than polyurethane, and can cure very slowly in cooler weather conditions.
Curing oils, such as “Tung Oil” is a less common coating option these days. They combine oils with mineral turpentine or white “spirits”. Durability is fairly low, as is the cost. There are very few genuine curing oils that are not combined with polyurethane.
Penetrative oil and wax coatings have no polymer-like film-building contents. They penetrate the grain and harden, so the timber itself becomes its own protective surface. The advantage of these coatings is that they are spot-repairable and easy to replenish without requiring a total re-sand to bare timber, as they are not “film-build” coatings. Which means maintenance is simple. They are mostly natural coatings which compose of timber by-products. However, some require solvent-based hardeners (containing VOCs) to achieve curing. Others have no additional chemicals, but require a mechanical process to cure and harden the surface. This process is referred to as “burnishing”. Light sanding machinery massages the product into the grain, then removes the excess while heating the surface to make it cure. Majority of products are VOC free, although please be aware that some oils do. This kind of product generally cannot provide a gloss finish, but creates a smooth matte which is renowned for a nice warm, natural look. The product is a higher cost per-litre than other types of coatings, however, only one coat is required.
Durability: Solvent based finishes are traditionally the most hard wearing.
Appearance: Be aware that some solvent based and oil based finishes may yellow over time.
Maintenance: Some natural based finishes, such as hard wax and oils require renourishment annually.
Gloss Level: Gloss versus Satin; lower sheen finishes will show lest dust and scratches.
Environmental: What product choice is best for your family and living environment?
Living Arrangements: Where will you stay for the duration of the job? Being that there is a high likelihood of strong fumes and product odours.
Cost: Depending on your choice of coat, some products are more economical than others.