Detecting Debris in Floor Finish

  • Blogs
  • Hardwood Floor Care Tips and Recommendations
  • Why Basic Coatings?
Return to Blog Return to News
Dec 09, 2021

Debris is a broad term that defines particles, contaminants, or artifacts that end up somewhere they are not supposed to be. Hardwood floors are just 1 of those many places that should not encounter heavy amounts of debris, especially while they are being coated with finish. Debris can cause raised bumps in the film of the wood floor finish if it's not properly removed before finishing it.

In most environments where wood floors are coated, minimal amounts of debris are expected in any coat of finish. Regardless of the process, normal amounts of debris are found at the job site and will exist under, within, or on a newly applied coat of finish. Usually they will disappear over time as the wood floor endures normal wear and tear.

To avoid having a large amount of debris in the work area, there are a few prevention methods to take, most important of which is adequately cleaning flooring surfaces. Squeaky™ Concentrate Floor Cleaner is a precleaner for wood floors during the coating process. Its formula is tough on a dirt but gentle on floors so it cleans a wood floor without leaving a residue. It can also be used for routine cleaning for dirt, grease, and scuff marks.

To clean floors with Squeaky prior to coating, follow these steps:

  1. Sweep or vacuum the wood floor
  2. Mix 1 part Squeaky to 4 parts water in a bucket or other container
  3. Place several large towels or microfiber pads in the bucket
  4. Wring out towels until they are damp
  5. Wrap a towel around a broom and tack the floor until it is free of dirt and oil. To prevent the redeposit of dirt and oil, refold the towel using clean sides as needed
  6. When the floor is dry, it is ready for screening or application of finish

Note: Do not pour Squeaky directly on the wood floor. Excess liquid may be damaging to the fibers. Use plenty of clean towels. Using dirty cleaning solution and dirty towels will redeposit oil and dirt.

It is also important to clean window sills, countertops, door jams, shoes, and clothing prior to applying the final coat, and to control air movement in the jobsite to prevent airborne debris from landing onto a recently applied coat of finish. If debris is discovered after applying previous coats, it should be removed before the final coat application.

Debris can come from the finish or applicator themselves. If a finish is unfiltered, improperly mixed, or is contaminated, there is a risk for dried bits of finish to be present. These particles are considered to be debris and will form raised bumps. Another common type of debris comes from applicators. Applicators can shed fibers that will wind up sticking to floor finish or getting stuck under it.

Once debris is found in the final coat of finish, there are not many options to fix it. In more extreme cases, one way is to completely start over by abrading and recoating the floor. If the debris is affecting only a part of the floor, spot fixing may be the solution. Scrape off the finish on the specific area of the floor, where hair, dust, fibers, or other small pieces of debris were found, then recoat it. Before using these methods, be sure to follow all prevention steps before applying the final coat to avoid having debris present again.

To get in contact with a Basic Coatings representative with questions about debris or Squeaky, please visit this link.

Source: NWFA’s “Problems, Causes, and Cures 2018”

Photos courtesy of NWFA’s Problems, Causes, and Cures (3rd Edition, 2018).