Thursday, November 8, 2012

Flooring Oils

Why choose oil?

When an oil-based finishing product is used as topcoat veneer on a Hardwood Floor Sanding it gives a highly polished finish. This ‘retro’ look was originally popular in the 1940s and ‘50s, but retro is back and oiled floors are making a design comeback. However, oil finishing is not only about achieving a shiny finish and there are other reasons to choose oil finishing on your hardwood floor.

Oil finishing products can have a base of petroleum (usually called synthetic oil), tung, vegetable or linseed. One of the prime advantages of using oil is that unlike varnish, lacquer or stain, it is absorbed into the wood, ‘feeding’ it and enhancing the natural wood grain. Some floor oils have also been manufactured with hardening agents incorporated into the mix. These help to give the floor an additional protective shield against scuffs and scrapes.

Gloss or low sheen?

If you don’t need your floor to be shiny enough to please Fred Astaire then you can opt for a low sheen finish. This somewhat muted effect is gaining popularity in homes across the UK as it works well with the in-vogue ‘distressed wood’ look. For an eco-friendly option try using oil that is low in or has no VOCs (volatile organic compounds). A low count, or ideally an absence of, VOCs means that no harmful toxins or odours are produced; an important consideration if you have children and/or allergy sufferers in the house.

Maintenance required

The only downside (if it is a downside) of choosing an oil finish is that to keep your floor in tip-top condition it will require, in addition to ongoing cleaning,  re-oiling every two years or so.

Do it yourself?

You can undertake to re-oil your floor yourself, and the easiest way to do this is laid out below. However, one word of warning: do not attempt to skip any of the steps as this will almost certainly lead to a botched job which may require the skills of a hardwood floor specialist to Wood Floor Repair.

How to…

Before applying any oil the floor must be sanded. It is wise to use a medium grain as a fine grain will stop the oil from being absorbed by the wood. Once sanding is complete brush away residual wood dust and lightly vacuum.

Run a damp mop over the floor to pick up any rogue shards of wood you may have missed. You can use a good hardwood floor cleaner, but avoid abrasive detergents. Now give the floor time to dry out thoroughly. If you need to be absolutely sure the floor is dry (never apply oil to a floor that is even a little wet!) you can use a metre to check the floor for hidden moisture.
Now you’re ready for the oil. Oil is best applied with a good quality paint roller. Work the oil carefully into the wood grain in sections to ensure full coverage. When the oil has been applied leave it alone for 20 minutes or so in order for it to find its way into the floor boards.
Once the oil has been absorbed into the wood polish with a coarse buffing pad, which will help work the oil deeper into the grain as well as removing any excess oil lying on top. Use clean rags to wipe over the floor, again in sections. Take a new pad and polish up the floor to a smooth shine before leaving the floor alone to allow the oil to harden (circa 7-8 hours but ideally overnight).
Then apply an additional light coat of oil. This process does two things:
1)     It helps build up additional protection from wear and tear.
2)     It gives the floor a uniformity of shine.
If you are looking to produce a muted sheen then you can shine the floor one more time using a clean rag underneath a polishing pad. For a high gloss sheen this final step can be omitted.
Finally, leave the floor to rest overnight before replacing furniture.

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