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Soft to the Touch . . . Isn’t a Good Description for a Floor

Sep 13, 2013


Can you scratch your floor finish with your fingernail? Is your floor finish tacky? Does your floor finish mark easily? It sounds like your floor finish never completely hardened. This issue almost always occurs because the jobsite was not dried with adequate ventilation. The oil-modified urethanes stay soft for a different reason than waterbased systems, but the root cause is not enough air movement.

All oil-modified finishes contain slow-drying solvents. Also, they contain an anti-skinning agent to keep the product from forming a skin in the can. This works by forming a layer over the surface that prevents the air from reacting with the finish. This anti-skinning agent stops the cure! If there is no air movement, then the mineral spirits and anti-skinning agent cannot evaporate and allow the oxygen in the air to react with the finish. This is even worse under high-humidity conditions. It is not necessary to have a high wind over the floor, but you cannot have dead air.

Another very common reason for soft surfaces is covering the floor too soon after coating. Covering with the wrong material will also cause issues for the drying process. If you trap the solvents, water, and anti-skinning agents under a cover, they will keep the film soft and prevent it from hardening.

Cleaning the floor sooner than recommended and/or using a cleaner that is too strong or incorrect can also soften the floor and prevent it from hardening properly.

To prevent floors that are soft to the touch, always find a way to ventilate the floor to properly remove water, solvents, and anti-skinning agents, so your finish will harden to its maximum capabilities. If the jobsite cannot be left open for any particular reason, then use low circulation fans to turn the air. Do not cover the floor for at least two weeks.

Note: Do not tape paper to the floor, only tape paper to paper. The tape can cause peeling of finish, as most tape adhesives contain plasticizers, which are non-drying solvents. Pulling tape from a floor can rip the floor finish.

If you’re looking to finish your hardwood floors in the upcoming weeks, don’t forget to take a look at our new product, EasyStreet™!

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