Seattle Floor Service offers four main types of floor finish for your wood floor, Polyurethane, Swedish, Waterborne, e-Floor and Osmo Polyx – Oil. Each type has its advantages, and understanding the differences between the four will help you to make the best decision. Whichever you choose, it is important to note that the single most important factor in how long the finish will last is not what type of finish is used, but how much and what kind of traffic the floor will see. Whichever finish you choose, you can be confident that the products are of the highest quality and have years of successful use and wear behind them. Regardless of finish type, the most important factors in determining the life of your floor’s finish are the degree of wear and tear it will see and how fastidiously it is maintained. A home with two adults and no children or pets, for example, may not need its floors maintained beyond regular cleaning for as many as twelve years; a home with two adults, two children and a dog may need a maintenance coating within two years, or even sooner. If there is ever a question about when maintenance coating is needed, simply give us a call, and we will be happy to take a look and advise you accordingly. With proper cleaning and maintenance, your floors may never need to be sanded again.

Polyurethane Finish

Polyurethane finish is our least expensive finish. A transparent, oil-based finish formulated to provide excellent durability and remarkable stain resistance. Polyurethane gives wood floors depth and richness while protecting them from dint and spills Polyurethane finishes have been a mainstay in wood flooring and clear varnish applications for many years. Since their introduction into the United States in the early 1950s, their usage has grown steadily. They find application in the toughest environments, like gymnasium and athletic floors, as well as clear finishes for hardwood floors in homes, offices, and other public buildings. While favored by the professional flooring contractor, they also are used by the do-it-yourself (DIY) homeowner, for everything from cabinet refinishing to wood furniture restoration.

Swedish Finish

Swedish finish was developed in the early 1950’s in Scandinavia and quickly gained popularity in Europe. It has been the industry standard here in the Northwest for about 20 years, probably because it is a truly ‘no wax’ finish. The only maintenance required is light damp mopping, as opposed to the semi-annual waxing and buffing associated with sealer/ wax and polyurethane finish systems. Swedish finish also has a reputation for durability unmatched by all but a few heavy-duty commercial grade finishes. Swedish finish is an alcohol-based acid-curing conversion varnish. It has been the industry standard for durability in the Northwest for many years, and we consistently achieve excellent results with Swedish finish. Because Swedish finish contains many solvents, it is highly volatile and toxic, and requires special precautions, including customers planning to be off the premises for at least a day or two after the final coat is applied, as well as removing pets and plants from the work area for the same duration. We may also ask that appliances with pilot lights be turned off or disconnected prior to the commencement of work. Please be prepared to re-light any pilot lights that we may have turned off. Light foot traffic may resume and furniture may be replaced after 24 to 48 hours, but the finish is not fully cured for up to 60 days, and therefore area rugs should not be put back on the floor for as long as is tolerable (if areas are covered before the end of this curing period, the covered areas will cure more slowly, and could result in more pronounced color differences between exposed and covered areas). Swedish finish is a two-coat procedure. The primary disadvantage of the Swedish finish is the powerful and unpleasant odor. We generally apply 2 coats of Swedish finish on successive days, and Seattle Floor Service always recommends vacating the premises while these coats of finish are being applied. Sensitivity to the solvents in the finish varies greatly from individual to individual, and some customers have reported a lingering odor for as long as a week after the final coat is applied. The majority of our customers who choose Swedish finish, however, find that if the house can be aired out soon after the final coat is dry, they are able to move back in the next day.

E-Floor Epoxy Finishing System

The e-floor system is not exactly new. It is based on a proven technology that has protected wooden boats for 25 years. The marine industry has come to trust and depend on this combination for constructing, sealing and finishing wood in the most challenging of environments: the open sea. System Three Resins, Inc. a Pacific Northwest manufacturer of specialty coatings and adhesives for the marine industry, has enlisted the services of experienced and respected flooring professionals to develop this system. A combination of low-hazard, easy-to-apply epoxy and polyurethane resin products which will provide beauty and durability to wooden floors, equal or superior to products professionals use today. The e-Floor epoxy sealer is a 100% solids product. e-Floor seals wood better resulting in more finish on top of the wood where you need it.

  • There is no shrinkage – what you apply remains on the floor.
  • There is virtually no odor and no solvents – no need for a respirator.
  • e-Floor is ideal for use in public areas or in open malls.
  • Apply a sport-floor durability finish system without the toxic hazards of traditional systems.
  • You can remain in your home while the product is being applied.

E-floor shows off the beautiful color of woods, especially exotic, colorful woods. Your custom floors will show their “true colors” and be protected with epoxy-tough durability.

Waterborne Finish

For many of our customers (almost half, in fact), the Swedish finish and the fumes and inconvenience associated with it prompt them to choose a waterborne finish. Waterborne floor finish technology has only been around for about fifteen years, so these finishes do not share the time-tested reputation for durability that Swedish finish enjoys. In spite of this, we have had great success with waterborne products for many years, and as the technology becomes more and more advanced, we expect waterborne floor finishes to ultimately eclipse Swedish finish in both popularity and availability. Waterborne finish is an air-drying urethane-acrylic emulsion. Waterborne finish technology is a relatively recent innovation, and therefore waterborne finish products have yet to earn the same reputation for durability that Swedish finish enjoys. However, we at Seattle Floor Service feel that the waterborne finish products we use are at the leading edge of this relatively new technology, and these products will give you results very similar to the results we achieve with Swedish finish. The primary advantage of waterborne finish products is that they do not contain the same solvents that Swedish finish does, and are therefore much less toxic and allow our customers to get back into their homes a little sooner. Most residential floors require two coats of waterborne finish, and upon completion of the final coat, normal foot traffic may resume after 24 hours. Waterborne floor finishes are also available for purchase for do-it-yourself maintenance coating, which can help keep down long-term maintenance costs. (Swedish finish is not available for purchase except to licensed contractors.) Ease of application also makes waterborne floor finishes the best choice for customers who anticipate doing maintenance coating themselves. Waterborne finishes vary slightly in appearance from Swedish finish as well. There is a subtle difference in color, which is difficult to characterize, so we generally encourage our customers to make an appointment to visit our showroom to look at samples. The waterborne finish can also appear ‘rougher’ or ‘less smooth’ than the Swedish finish. For customers who may not find the ‘rougher’ look acceptable, an additional coat of waterborne finish is recommended. There is an additional charge for additional coats of finish. Regardless of the type of finish you choose, the single most important factor determining how long the finish will last on your floor is what type and the degree of traffic to which your floor is subjected. A home with 2 adults, 2 children and a dog, for example, will need its floors maintained much sooner and with greater frequency than a single-occupant, no-pet household. Seattle Floor Service does approximately the same number of floors with each type of finish. Please feel free to make an appointment to come to our office and look at samples of each kind of finish.

Osmo Polyx-Oil (Hardwax Oil)

Not to be confused with traditional oil finishes, OSMO Hardwax Oil is an engineered finish made with plant oils and waxes, plus just enough highly refined mineral spirits to allow easy application. This remarkable finish offers excellent durability and renewability with a unique lustrous finish. It will never crack, blister or flake off. Instead of forming a plastic film, like polyurethane does, OSMO Hardwax Oil has open pores that “breathe.” This allows any moisture that does get through to get back out again without pushing off the finish. Because it is microporous, Hardwax Oil works well in rooms with high humidity, such as kitchens. It meets German standards for resistance to stains from wine, cola, coffee, tea, fruit juice and, of course, beer. Spot repairs are easy. There’s no need to strip the whole floor or even to remove old Hardwax Oil. For minor repairs, just scuff the damaged area with fine steel wool, coat with OSMO Liquid Wax Cleaner and buff lightly when the cleaner is dry. If a more extensive fix is needed, use Hardwax Oil. Make repairs regularly, and the finish will last indefinitely. This product provides no protection against ultraviolet rays from the sun, so it is not suitable for outdoor use. Key ingredients in Hardwax Oil include sunflower, soybean and thistle oil, plus two hard, natural waxes—carnauba and candelilla. A Brazilian palm tree, Copernica cerifera, produces the carnauba in its leaves, berries and stalks. Villagers cut down fronds, dry them for several days, and then beat off the wax. The candelilla comes from the outer coating on a desert shrub, Euphorbia antisyphiliti, that grows in northern Mexico. Farmers boil the leaves and stems with water and acid to release the wax. This is an oil-based product. Like most finishes—even water-based ones—it needs a solvent to perform properly. OSMO uses the safest one that works with oil-based finishes: benzene-free, low-odor mineral spirits. This is an aliphatic petroleum distillate, which means it is a petroleum product that has its carbon atoms arranged in open chains instead of rings. The more toxic, aromatic or ring hydrocarbons have been removed, resulting in a milder odor.

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