Wood Floor Polish
Buffing & Blending –
For buffing, we usually recommend using the flexi sand buffer which has multi-disk wheel which needs to be attached to the sanding/buffing machine. The abrasives we chose for the multi-disk is depended on the wood species and other related factors. The final grit and paper type are largely depending on the personal choice and professional experience in bringing high-level finishing to the wooden floor. As a rule, the grit for the first round of buffing disk should be equal to the grit of the last round of sanding belt. The buffing disks should have a capacity of efficient dust extraction, cleaner floor surfaces, and edges of the wooden floor. It also ensures to improve the surface quality of the wooden floor. It also depends on the kind of finishing we like to have on the final wooden floor. For the natural finish on the wooden floor, we recommend using 120 or 150 grits of wooden buffing disks. For staining finish on the wooden surface use 80,100 or 120 grits of buffing disks. For oil finishing on wooden surfaces use 120 or 150 grits of sanding/buffing disks.
Trim work on the job site is either removed or replaced or left up and protected. If the trim work is left in place then we cover them with baseboard with tapes and protect them from scratches. All contact points of the equipment are being protected to avoid any scratches with the contact points. Nails and staples must be removed from the previous carpets as they may badly damage the floor and sanding equipment.
The intermediate pads are being used to if the machine starts to bounce where there is likely an unevenness on the floor. Using intermediate pads may help to smooth them out. Quarter inch pads may help us to smooth almost all uneven floors. But for hand scraped and distressed floors we may need to use half inch pad to have the better grip on the floor. While using intermediate pads it is important to know that we must move faster several times across the floor. Moving slower while using intermediate pads may cause a grain dish out of the soft grains. Otherwise, for a smoother surface, we may not need to use an intermediator pads.
Most of the buffing machines have a pressure point where it cut aggressively on the wooden surfaces. The floating using sanding/buffing machine is a point or pressure on the machine where machine stays on the floor without any additional efforts. This drastically reduces the possibility of swirl marks scratches. It also helps to understand how to clock the buffer during forward and return passes which in turn will reduce the scratching effects on the wooden floor. On the other hand, the drum mark, stubborn edge marks can be removed by healing the buffer or pushing down the machine while holding the position on the floor which will cause a heavy grind on the right corner of the machine.
The buffing should be started from the far corner of the flooring surface by moving the buffer in the same direction as that of flooring where it needs to move forward and back in the same path. Changing the angle of the buffer on the forward path in the direction of grains and feathering with the grains on the return pass. Using the MultiDisc with a smooth, floating technique reduces the need for clocking the buffer. In comparison with a single 16-inch rubber drive disk buffing machine multi-disk machine will help in bringing the best quality of finishing. After the first pass, next pass will start the half with the width of buffer for the next pass by overlapping the first pass by 50% of the first pass. The common mistake in buffing is to start the buffing around the four sides of the flooring area/room first and the filling up an internal area. This will usually cause a picture frame effect especially on the butt end of the wall where the buffer is forced to cross across the grains. It is important to understand that buffing needs to be operated in the same direction as that of the flooring. Any gross grain movement will result in shadowing effect when stain, sealer, and finishing are applied on the wooden floor.
It is also important to understand that if we change to the newer abrasive in the middle of the room a different color or scratch pattern is likely to show up. Similar as sanding if the final finishing is sanding is done with 100 grits, buffing should start with buffing pad of 100 grits which then with 150 grits as needed. Usually, this is being followed when we are targeting for a final natural finish. We can’t just directly to 150 grits as this because it wouldn’t blend up with the 100-grit sanding and adds a scratch pattern.
During buffing, very soft or fine wood dust is created which gets packed into the soft grain area like concrete. It is important to gauge on if vacuum only can remove this dust from the floor. If this soft dust remains in the wooden grains, when finishing soaks in the area where dust resides will swell and pop out creating a rough and unsightly surface known as “grain raise”’. In these situations, we may use a Tampico Brush, which is made up from Tampico plant. Tampico brush is fine enough to remove the fine dust from the floor but soft enough not to scratch the wood. It does an exceptional job of removing fine dust from fine grains. This will help us in eliminating Grain Raise and other first coat issues. It is important to take utmost care from now onwards to avoid any contamination to the clean wooden floor.
Staining and Finishing
80% finish issues are caused by the stains which are not dry enough to coat usually in the seams and the soft grains. Understanding the proper application rate as well as recommended tools and techniques used to apply stains and how to help stain dry are key to preventing stain and finish issues. It always depends on the end objective of staining, most of the cases we need to stain the only top surface of wood for which we do not need many stains to do that. For wooden flooring or staining in residential premises, it is advisable to place box fans at entry points blowing directly across the floor. Additional air flow will help stain to dry and cure properly. It also helps in minimizing the long-term adhesive issues that may occur. We cover the overlapping areas of floor with blue painter’s tape to avoid any adjacent impact on these areas. Finally, we vacuum and dry out the floor to remove any residual dust and debris.
Stain Preparation –
We always want to ensure to give the customer exactly what they want. So, helping them to choose right stain color is an important step. There are the number of ways through which we can help customers to decide on their stain color. One of the best ways is to look at the pre-made stain samples on same wood species as customers floor. For a more hands-on approach, we may need to apply few different stain colors on the small area on one of the corners of the floor. We normally prefer to perform this sampling possibly next to your cabinets or area under lighting for the better understanding of the stain effect on your floor.
Stain Application –
Though we have the number of methods to apply stain, some of the basic principals of all these methods will remain same for consistent performance. We may use a solvent base or water base strainers to get the desired finish as needed. Open the stain can and steer until the settled pigment at the bottom is thoroughly mixed in. We can judge this by looking at pigment left at the steering stick. If we are using multiple cans of stain or if we are using custom colors, we may want to mix or batch all cans together in a larger container to ensure color uniformity over the entire job. Always keep an extra tightly sealed container for future touch up and repairs. Whichever type of stain you use, make sure to mix it periodically through the process to ensure consistent finishing on the surface. Depends on the application method you are choosing to apply stain, ensure that you keep going consistently along the wooden surface to avoid any dry lines. As soon as you slow down too much or if you leave a line too long it will create an edge patch that you will see at the end. There are multiple ways and techniques be used in applying stain to the wooden floor. Most of the professionals choose to apply stain using cotton cloth and brush. The technique used to apply this is experience based where strainer will be applied using the brush along the edges of the floor which then will be carried over by applying it using cotton cloth along the selected area. ‘’Cutting In’’ is a process of applying stains to the sides and detail area of the room with a rag or a brush. Wipe off the stain with a rag after applying feathering it into the field. Cutting In can be done in sections, ahead of the stain application to the main area, along with the edges of the entire room at once or after the stain application to the main area. Feathering the stain is very important because we don’t want to leave any hard lines as it could be difficult to blend with the stain application to main floor work area. If we make a mistake while working with stain we can try to remove (wipe it out with a rag) it by using Mineral Spirits as guided by the manufacturer of the strainer.
The choices of stains available in markets are – oil, varnish, water-based and gel.
Oil Stain –
Oil stains are the most widely available and are the type most people think of when they think of stain. These are the easiest to use because the linseed oil base or “binder” (sometimes a mixture of linseed oil and varnish) allows plenty of time to remove the excess before the stain dries – even on large projects. Though some oil stains contain the only pigment, most contain pigment and dyes, and many contain dyes. Moreover, many varnish, water-based, gel and lacquer stains contain the only pigment, and these are rarely referred to as pigment stains. Some of the studies show that oil based polyurethane yellow’s out of its age and exposure to the sun as it has an amber tone to it.
Choose an oil stain to apply under any finish except water based, and in all cases where you don’t need any of the special characteristics offered by other stains.
Varnish Stain –
Varnish stains resemble oil stains in every way but one. Varnish stains use only varnish (sometimes polyurethane varnish) as the binder, so varnish stains dry hard while oil stains don’t. Therefore, a varnish stain can be brushed on wood and left to dry without wiping whereas excess oil stain must be wiped off or the finish applied on top may chip or peel. Varnish stains are more difficult to use than oil stains because there is less time to wipe off the excess. Brushing and leaving the excess usually leaves prominent colored brush marks. Traditionally, varnish stains were used most often to overcoat already stained and finished furniture, and woodwork that had become dull or scuffed. Because the stain hardens well, it didn’t require a topcoat of finish in these situations and the brush marks were disguised by the already existing color.
Choose a varnish stain to overcoat an already stained and finished surface that is dull or scuffed, or if you’re wiping off excess on a small project
Water Based Stain –
Water-based stains use water-based finish as the binder and replace most of the organic thinner with water. So, these stains pollute less, are less irritating to be around and are easier to clean up than oil or varnish stains. You can identify water-based stains by their thinning and clean-up solvent: water. Water-based stains are usually best under water-based finishes because these finishes don’t bond well over oil or varnish stains unless you give them a week or longer to thoroughly dry. Unfortunately, water-based stains are more difficult to use because they raise the grain of the wood and they dry fast.
Sanding off raised grain inevitably leads to sanding through color in places. To avoid this, raise the grain and sand it off before applying the stain, or “bury” the raised grain.
To raise the grain first, wet the wood with a wet cloth. Let the wood dry overnight. Then sand off the roughness and apply the stain. To bury raised grain, simply apply the first coat of finish over the stain and raised grain, and then sand smooth. A better method is to divide your project into smaller parts and apply and wipe off the stain on each before going to the next. You can also have a second person follow you, quickly wiping off the excess.
Choose a water-based stain for use with a water-based finish.
Gel Stain –
Most gel stains are oil- or varnish-based, so they thin and clean up with mineral spirits. They are identifiable by their thickness, which is like mayonnaise. This makes them rather messy to apply, but gel stains solve the single biggest problem in wood finishing – blotching on the pine.
Choose a gel stain when staining pine or similar soft wood.