Hardwood Floor Care Tips and Recommendations
  • What Is Stain Bleed Back and How Is It Affecting Your Floors?

    Oct 19, 2020

    Stain bleed back is a unique phenomenon that can occur following the application of stain. While the stain dries, it wicks back to the surface of the wood, ultimately leading to color inconsistencies and finish issues. It can happen at the board seams, the surface of the board (often following the grain pattern), knots, or burls.


    The main culprit of stain bleed back is failure to allow the stain to fully dry. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to ascertain whether or not stain has completely dried, because while it appears dry on the surface of the wood, an abundance of stain deep in the cell cavities is often still liquid.

    Rushing to coat over undried stain too soon will only exacerbate the issue, as the stain that has “bled back” and the trapped solvents therein can create severe long-term issues, including poly-beading, peeling, and even complete finish failure.

    Prevention and Testing

    The only way to prevent stain bleed back is to allow stain adequate time to dry. It is also critical to avoid pouring stain directly onto a wood surface or allowing pools to sit, both of which cause stain to soak down into the cracks between boards.

    Always read and apply stain following the manufacturer’s application instructions. Take note of temperature and humidity levels, as these can affect drying times. There are several options for testing that the stain has dried, including:

    • Wiping the floor with a clean rag to detect wet stain.
    • Using moisture meters are always recommended, but they can be inaccurate in testing whether stain is ready to coat—especially over cracks. They can also be affected by certain pigments or solvents in the stain.
    • A less-well-known secret is using a vacuum hose directly on the stained floor on those areas that would be the most likely to still be wet, such as cracks and knots, to bring any undried stain to the surface. If excess stain appears upon vacuuming, allow the floor more time to dry and retest before proceeding


    The unique nature of waterbased stains, like Basic Coatings® HyperTone™ Stains, will greatly reduce bleed back and related issues.


    Once bleed back happens, it can sometimes be amended by aggressively screening the floor and exposing the trapped stain. After allowing time for it to fully dry, touch up any color issues and recoat. If extensive stain bleed back has occurred below a finish film, however, the floor will require a complete re-sand.

    If you have questions about stain bleed back or other issues you are experiencing, please click here, fill out the online form, and your Basic Coatings Regional Manager will reach out to you.

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


  • One Simple Secret for Avoiding the Dreaded Picture Frame

    Jul 07, 2020

    When it comes to refinishing hardwood floors, blending the perimeter with the field of the floor is an important skill.

    To help blend in the edges with the scratch pattern over the rest of the floor, most hardwood flooring professionals already know to try to follow NWFA wood flooring sand guidelines, which include:

    • Following the abrasive guide pictured right (click to enlarge)
    • Using the same mineral and grit for the perimeter with an edger as they did in the field with a drum sander
    • Never skipping performance of a final screen

    Why, then, would a hardwood flooring contractor who followed each of these guidelines to a T be experiencing the dreaded picture frame—when the edges of the room have a slightly different appearance than the rest?

    The Story

    In late April of this year, a Basic Coatings® Regional Manager was called by a contractor who had experienced a picture framing issue on a previous job and was looking for some advice. On their recent project, they had stained a floor, applied sealer and finish, then noticed the stain had different sheens between the perimeter and field of the floor. In that particular case, the edges could be best described as having a burnished look. 

    The Regional Manager visited a new project with the contractor and noticed the contractor’s sanding sequence was fine for both the drum sander and the edger—36 grit, then 50, followed by 80, and finally 100, concluding with a 120-grit screen. However, he also noticed that the paper on the edger was not being changed as frequently as it should have been, so he recommended changing it more frequently.

    Once proper sanding was completed, the application of stain, sealer, and finish was consistent and even throughout the floor, including along the edges.

    Lo and behold, no picture frame.

    The Regional Manager and contractor both agreed that by not changing the paper on the edger fast enough on his previous job, the contractor was, unbeknownst to him, burnishing the wood along the perimeter and closing the grain. The edger, cutting at a much finer grit, was essentially polishing the wood along the edges.

    The Simple Secret

    Edging is hard, grueling work. Often, contractors want to finish as quickly as possible, which sometimes results in less frequently stopping to change the paper on the edger. Keeping the paper fresh early and often, however, can eliminate picture frames in the final product.

    Even if paper feels sharp, it very well may be beyond its prime, which is why the best way to judge whether paper is due for changing is by square footage. 

    Ultimately, edgers should be used to reproduce how the rest of the floor was prepared.  This will give you the best chance to blend the stain, sealer, and finish to give you a great looking floor.

    If you have questions about picture framing or other issues you are experiencing, please click here, fill out the online form, and your Basic Coatings Regional Manager will reach out to you. 


  • A New Way to Think About Staining Maple Floors

    Jun 08, 2020

    Homeowner: Can you stain my maple floor?

    Contractor: No, maple doesn’t take stain well.

    This is probably said thousands of times a day across the US during a site evaluation of a wood floor. Homeowners are often suspicious when they hear this, since they’re offered countless options of stained maple cabinetry and prefinished wood flooring, and they look quite uniform in color. Contractors are at a disadvantage when refinishing wood floors on site, because they cannot replicate the unique processes used in factory finishing in the field.

    Continue Reading...

    What causes “blotchy” stain?  

    All hardwoods and softwoods have some kind of grain pattern and density differences due to its growth. This is completely natural, but the grain and differences in density are highlighted by the stain. Maple, like several others species such as walnut, American cherry, pine and Douglas fir, do not take stain as evenly as species such as red oak and white oak.Blotchy color can result from other factors as well, such as inconsistent sanding procedures, water-popping, or stain application. Inadequate preparatory procedures can result in previous coatings being left in the wood, also preventing uniform color.

    Many techniques have been tried to correct the issue, including pretreatments, layering stain, and excessive tinting of finish. Contractors notoriously try to apply products outside of the manufacturer's recommendations. Unfortunately, attempts to force an outcome often ends in a failure.

    How can I get maple to take stain better?

    The first step to ensuring the best possible outcome is to follow NWFA guidelines to sand and prepare the floor properly. Water-popping will also help make sure the color is absorbed more evenly.

    Contractors tend to get comfortable with products or procedures they prefer to use, but advancements in floor product technologies do offer some possible solutions. The manufacturers of prefinished products that you’re frustrated with having to match have sought out the products they needed to achieve the results their customers have demanded. You should do the same by looking for alternative products better suited for any given project.

    Basic Coatings® offers a unique solution that resolves a lot of the challenges to job-site maple staining in HyperTone Stains, a water/oil hybrid. Please click here to learn more.


  • Can I “Disinfect” or Clean Hardwood Floors with “Antimicrobial” Cleaners?

    May 05, 2020

    The rapid spread of SARS-CoV-2, otherwise known as the 2019 novel coronavirus, and the illness it causes, called COVID-19, has sparked a huge uptick in questions about properly cleaning hardwood floors, especially with regard to recent buzzwords like “disinfect,” “antimicrobial,” and “sanitize.”

    These Products Will Clean Without Voiding Your Warranty

    The 2 primary organizations in the wood flooring industry—the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) and the Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association (MFMA) —have issued guidance on the subject.

    Continue Reading...

    • According to the NWFA, “…using improper cleaners can void (wood floor manufacturer’s) warranty and also cause future problems with recoating.”
    • According to the MFMA, “…NEVER use household cleaning products or procedures to clean your floor. They can be harmful to the floor finish and to the wood and may leave floors sticky or slippery, and potentially harmful. Your finish manufacturer will recommend the proper cleaning and maintenance materials for your MFMA maple floor.”

    Connect with a Contractor

    Hiring a contractor to deep clean wood floors with professional equipment may not be as expensive as you think.

    To request a local Basic Coatings certified contractor to contact you with more information about their services and pricing, please fill out the form below!

    Basic Coatings® correspondingly recommends caution when looking for cleaners for hardwood floors. While many antimicrobial cleaners or disinfectants are marketed as suitable for use on hard surfaces, we encourage you to make sure the product is specifically approved for hardwood floors, and if so, seek specific information how it should be used or applied.

    Antimicrobial products contain specific chemicals—such as ammonia, hydrogen peroxide, peroxyacetic or other acids, and sodium hypochlorite—that are not recommended for use on hardwood floors.

    Approved disinfectants for use on hardwood floors should have a neutral pH and quaternary ammonium listed as the active ingredient on their labels.

    Whether you find an antimicrobial cleaner or disinfectant specifically for hardwood floors or not, we advise deep cleaning wood floors immediately after use of any such product to remove residue, which can damage the floor and prevent proper bonding of a future recoat. To that end, Basic Coatings offers a one-two punch in the form of I.F.T.—an aggressive cleaner specifically formulated to remove residue, ground-in dirt, and other soils—followed by Squeaky™ floor cleaner to neutralize.

    Hiring a contractor to deep clean wood floors with professional equipment may not be as expensive as you think. To request a local Basic Coatings certified contractor contact you with more information about their services and pricing, please fill out the form here.

    I.F.T. and Squeaky can be purchased directly from a local Basic Coatings hardwood flooring distributor. Please refer to our distributor locator here.

    1  National Wood Flooring Association. 2010. “Maintenance and Recoating”, 3.
    2 “Residential Floor Care - MFMA". 2013. Maplefloor.Org.

  • Don’t Squeak Back at Me

    Mar 13, 2020


    Have you ever tried to sneak to the refrigerator in the middle of the night, and your squeaky hardwood floors give you away? (No? Us either!)

    For the most part, if a squeak occurs right after installation, you might have excessive bounce in your floor, which you should immediately talk to your contractor about fixing.

    However, some annoying squeaks can develop over time with some hardwood floors.  This can occur as a result of years of wear and tear causing board separation below the surface.

    If this is the source of your floor squeaks, you have a few options that might work.  The first option is worth trying if you have access to the floor from the underside.  After locating the squeak, try using some additional fastening below to floor to see if it can reduce or eliminate the squeak.

    If that is not an option, an alternative might be to use baby powder.  Simply find the squeaky spot, pour in the baby powder and work it down into the tongue & groove, then remove any excess.  Try repeating the process until it reduces or eliminates the squeak.  It’s not always effective, can be only temporary, but it’s worth a try.

    Real hardwood floors are always a great option!  Regardless of your choice of real wood flooring, Basic Coatings® is the expert in staining, sealing, finishing and maintaining your hardwood floor!  Please explore our website for ideas and complete product information.

  • Squeaky Clean

    Jan 27, 2020

    1126 Squeaky Kit

    Have you ever found yourself battling heavy oil-based soils on your hardwood floor? You may be using the wrong products. Most general-purpose neutral cleaners take multiple attempts to remove common contaminants, such as furniture polish, shoe marks, and dust mop treatments, and we ask ourselves, “Who has time for that?”

    Basic Coatings® provides a product that can solve these issues. Squeaky™ Cleaner for wood, LVT/SPC, and laminate flooring is specially made to dissolve oil-based soils in one pass. This is how Squeaky can help you!

    1. Wood Floor Cleaner: Squeaky is specifically formulated to clean hardwood floors without leaving an oily residue behind for a streak free appearance!
    2. De-foaming: Squeaky has significantly better de-foaming capabilities than neutral cleaners.
    3. Dry Time: The alcohol and solvents in Squeaky assist in the prevention of hardwood floor cupping from water-solution-related issues.

    We want your floors to be as squeaky clean as much as you do!   Squeaky Cleaner Wood Floor Cleaner is available in kits, concentrated, ready-to-use, and in various packaging sizes.

    Instructions for Removing Oil Soap Cleaners with Squeaky Ready-to-Use

    Supplies needed:
    • Basic Coatings Squeaky Cleaner
    • Basic Coatings microfiber mop
    • Rubber/latex gloves and safety glasses

    1. Sweep or vacuum the wood floor.
    2. Spray Squeaky Cleaner on a Basic Coatings Microfiber Mop and wipe the surface clean.
    3. To prevent redeposit of dirt and oil, clean the microfiber as needed. Pay special attention to corners.

    Do not pour Squeaky directly on the wood floor. Excess liquid on any hardwood floor may damage the fibers. Do not use this product with any wax-finished floors.

    Real hardwood floors are always a great option! Basic Coatings is the expert in staining, sealing, finishing, and maintaining your hardwood floors.  Please go to for ideas and complete product information.

  • Death, Taxes, and Winter Time Cracks

    Jan 03, 2020


    Three things you can depend on are death, taxes, and cracks between the boards of your wood floors in the winter! Wood floors continually expand and contract with changes in temperature and humidity of the jobsite/environment.

    In the winter, with heat being turned up for warmth, the moisture level will decrease. In turn, the wood floor boards will also get drier and shrink, and as they do, they will pull away from each other.  Humidifiers are always recommended to maintain proper moisture levels, but sometimes they are not effective enough.  When moisture levels go down, hopefully the resulting shrinkage (aka “cracks”) are very small and spread evenly throughout the installation, as opposed to fewer and wider cracks. 

    Conversely, as heating is reduced or eliminated, the flooring will then expand, as the moisture in the environment increases and is absorbed by the wood.

    Discuss your options with your hardwood flooring professional to avoid costly challenges associated with shrinkage and expansion.  For example, if you are considering using an OMU (oil-modified urethane), it is recommended to wait until the wood flooring is expanded and tight. This is because, if the flooring is dry and the gaps are open, the oil can drip down into the tongue and groove cracks, where it may not dry completely.  Then, at a later time, if the floor expands, it will force up the undried finish and cause polybeads, which would be an eyesore on your beautiful hardwood floor. 

    If you are considering having a wood floor installed or wood floors sanded and refinished, talk to your wood flooring professional about the type of stain, sealer, and finishes they recommend.  You should also discuss the temperature, humidity, and timing to help reduce the chances of any issues.

    Real hardwood floors are always a great option, and Basic Coatings is the expert in staining, sealing, finishing and maintaining your hardwood floor!  Please peruse our website for ideas and complete product information.

  • Don’t Give Your Floors the Cold Shoulder this Winter

    Dec 30, 2019

    salt on floors

    Winter is in full swing and is taking charge with snow, slush, and ice. While bundling up and staying warm inside, make sure you don’t give your floors the cold shoulder. It’s important to be aware of the dangers that the winter elements can leave behind on both carpet and hard surface floors.

    As people come and go in a facility they stomp, shake, and dump snow, slush, and salt on floors everywhere. This snowy, slushy mess doesn’t end after it dries and leaves behind unmelted rock salt. Stains as white as snow can be seen on all types of floor surfaces. While these stains are pesky and damaging, they are preventable and your floors are savable.

    Salt stains are not harmful if attended to quickly. The faster you remove the moisture and chemicals, the less time they have to damage your floors. Keep absorbent towels or rags near your doors to clean up the messes as they occur, and a vacuum or broom to remove any dry residue.

    Use a reliable matting system. A matting system acts as a first line of defense against tracked-in contaminants on your floors. Over 80% of dirt and residue are brought in by people entering a facility; a good entrance matting system can trap 90% of this dirt and debris as they are brought in!

    Prevention is the best defense. It’s important to keep in mind that all floor types are vulnerable during the winter. Using a daily maintenance cleaner is one of the most important steps to extend the life of your floors.

    For the best solution to protect your hard surface floors from salt and other winter debris, use the Basic Coatings® Squeaky™ Floor Care System. Squeaky is designed for daily cleaning of wood, VCT, laminate, and other hard surface floors. If your floors really take a beating this winter, call us at 800-441-1934 for superior service and technical excellence.

  • Something Old, Something New: The Advantages of Using Recycled Wood

    Dec 16, 2019


    There are several benefits to using recycled wood for your new hardwood floors.  Here are just a few of the things to keep in mind:

    • Style/design: There’s no question that distressed or recycled wood has been and continues to be a desired look and trend.  When clientele look for wood flooring, they generally like the character you can get from recycled wood.

    • Environmentally friendly: By using recycled wood, you certainly reduce waste that would be going into landfills. Additionally, you eliminate the need to cut down existing trees for milling into new flooring.

    • Durability: Trees harvested years ago tend to have tighter grain, which leaves them harder and denser. As such, recycled wood tends to be more durable than brand new floors, which helps reduce dents and scratches. Our floor finishes, like two-component clear waterbased urethane StreetShoe® NXT, can also increase durability by adding a layer of sacrificial protection!  StreetShoe NXT is available in 4 sheens: Gloss, Semi-Gloss, Satin, and Super Matte to satisfy any design need.

    Where you can find recycled wood for hardwood flooring?

    • Many times, old wood is found from property demolitions. Oak, cherry and chestnut are common woods found in old properties, and they all make great choices for hardwood floor. This wood is often bought by specialty buyers and then resold to end users for personal use.

    • There are a number of manufacturers that specialize in reclaiming wood.   Ask your local contractor or wood flooring distributor about their recycled wood options.

    As the old saying goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!” But what should you watch out for? 

    • Bug damage: Bugs will often be killed in the kiln-drying process; however, there can still be bug damage. When using recycled wood, some designers actually desire the look you can get from bug-damaged wood.  Whether you desire that look or not, make sure a qualified professional does a full inspection of the materials to check for loss of density and strength from insects prior to installation.

    • Length versus width versus thickness: Generally speaking, a professional wood flooring contractor can install just about anything anywhere if you can control the environment.  This includes short and thick, long and thin, and everything in between.  For the most part, as the flooring gets wider and thinner, it is less stable. 

    • Species: Obviously, the type of wood species plays a significant role in the look and performance of flooring.  Refer to the NWFA (National Wood Flooring Association) Wood Species Used in Wood Flooring Manual, as it gives all the specifics and options. 

    Real hardwood floors are a great option, but a recycled wood floor can be a “greener” option.  Regardless of your choice, Basic Coatings is the expert in staining, sealing, finishing, and maintaining your hardwood floor!  Please go to for ideas and complete product information.

  • Simple Tips for Waterbased Users

    Nov 12, 2019

    wood floor

    When using waterbased finishes, the thing to keep in mind is that you are working with water. Equipment and techniques are slightly different than when working with OMUs. Whether you have never experienced using waterbased products or just want a refresher, here are some pointers to remember…

    • Grain raise is normal with waterbased coatings. Don’t fret about it, just anticipate it. Screening to 120-grit or finer is a good ending point before applying stain or waterbased coating. Always follow NWFA guidelines.

    • Just remember, once you apply your sealer or finish, don’t overwork the material, allow it to flow and wet itself out. Like they say, don’t watch a waterbased finish dry, just walk away.

    • Read the manufacturer’s directions for mixing your finish. Some recommend shaking, others recommend stirring, but everyone recommends some way of blending the product before application. This not only allows for ease of proper application, it also prevents final appearance issues like streaking or inconsistent sheen.

    • Clean and tack the floor before coating. It is even a good idea to clean the window sills and counter tops or any place where saw dust could have accumulated.

    • If using a T-bar, make sure to feather out your turns. Also, many contractors like to use rollers or paint pads as it’s easier to use and control versus a T-bar. It’s a personal preference.

    • Regardless of which tool you use, apply an even amount of pressure. Different pressures can lead to varying film thicknesses, which could lead to varying sheens. Be consistent with your application across the floor.

    • Try to achieve the recommended coverage rates. Finishes are designed to be applied at a specific film thickness. If you apply the finish at the recommended rate, it will have a better chance to flow and level.

    • Prior to application, make sure the jobsite temperature and humidity levels are acceptable. Also, make sure to turn off the HVAC system and close all windows and doors during application, which will keep the finish from drying too quickly. After about 30–60 minutes of no airflow, the finish should be level and will tack over, at which point the floor can be opened to airflow.

    • Use fans to move air across the room to help the finish dry and air out the room. A well-ventilated floor makes for a strong finish.

  • The Benefits of Wood Sealers

    Nov 01, 2019


    There is a time and a place for everything, including waterbased wood sealers.

    In some cases, you may prefer to use more coats of finish instead of using a sealer. There are, however, plenty of reasons to use waterbased wood floor sealers on raw wood flooring, whether the floor is going to be stained or not. Reasons include cost, color, tannin blocking, proper adhesion, and preventing side-bonding. 

    Cost: Waterbased sealers are less expensive than waterbased finishes. When applying your first coat, the “thirsty” raw wood will generally absorb a lot of product. Filling those pores with less expensive product is just more economical. Additionally, if you screen to knockdown grain raise, you are screening off product and throwing it away. Again, it’s simply more cost-effective to use a less expensive product in that process. 

    Color: You can choose sealers based upon color as well. Some sealers are clear, some have a slight or heavy ambering tone, and some have a color pigment added that creates a certain look or effect prior to applying a finish and/or after applying a stain.

    Tannin: At times, you may have concerns about pulling tannin with waterbased sealers/finishes. That can happen with exotic species, but it is definitely a concern when coating white oak. If you have concerns about tannin, then definitely make sure your sealer is designed to resist pulling tannin. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

    Adhesion: Waterbased sealers are designed to penetrate and offer an excellent bond to the surface of the wood flooring or to stains. In turn, they create an excellent substrate for the finishes to bond to.

    Side-bonding: Waterbased sealers aren’t as strong as waterbased finishes by design, partly to help with application, but also to reduce concerns with side-bonding. Because sealers aren’t as strong, their tendency for side-bonding is dramatically reduced.

    As with any aspect of bringing a vision of wood flooring to life, there are circumstances that might warrant doing things differently. If you have any questions about this subject, please reach out to your local Basic Coatings® Regional Manager for a customized solution.

  • More Causes and Cures: Stain on the Brain

    Oct 24, 2019

    Photo credit: Joshua Crossman, PTL Hardwoods, Yelm, WA

    After all these years, handcrafted hardwood floors are still the flooring of choice for many and add value to any home. There are, however, several job site issues that can challenge any hardwood flooring professional. Let’s take a look at three stain-related job site challenges worth keeping in mind.

    Bleed Back
    Cause: Bleed back is an issue that can occur when staining wood floors. Stain that has penetrated into the open grain of the wood, fine cracks, and even into the tongue and groove between the boards can wick back up to the surface, forming wet dots or a wet line along the edge of the boards. Sometimes this doesn’t happen until after the sealer or first finish coat is applied. In essence, you might think the stain is dry, but if there are pockets of wet finish beneath the surface, it will most likely work its way to the surface at some point.

    Prevention: Inhibiting pockets of wet stain from forming below the surface is crucial, and applying the stain thinly and evenly is an excellent way to start. Some contractors prefer to buff in the stain to achieve an even and thin stain job. Not all stains can be buffed on though, so check the label instructions or contact the manufacturer to find out if a particular stain can be buffed.

    Cloudy or Hazy Finish
    Cause: A cloudy or milky finish can occur when a finish is applied over a stain that is not completely dry yet. The solvent from the stain can get trapped and will cause the finish to look cloudy or hazy as it’s trying to get out.

    Prevention: Allowing the stain more time to dry is the best option. Never rush dry times! Increasing airflow and ensuring that the job site has proper temperature and humidity helps as well. 

    Blotchy Stain
    Cause: Similar to cloudy or hazy finish, blotchy stain can occur when a finish is applied before the stain is completely dry. Blotches can also occur as a result of using wood species that do not evenly accept stain or from inconsistent sanding, water popping, or stain application.

    Prevention: Water popping the floor prior to applying the stain will help the wood absorb the stain and help you attain a more even tone. When water popping, be sure the moisture is gone before staining. Air movement and ventilation is important in getting stain to dry before top coating with a sealer or finish.

  • Don’t Let Fall Bring Your Hardwood Floors Down

    Oct 08, 2019


    Well, it’s that time of the year again; the warm summer days are coming to a screeching halt, and the leaves are beginning to change. As cooler, outside air is heated for indoor use, the relative humidity level drops substantially. This, in turn, affects hardwood floors in several ways, particularly with respect to finish application, maintenance, and wood shrinkage.

    Finish Application
    Lower humidity can shorten the working time of finishes during application, so procedures might need to be adjusted.

    As indicated on the technical data sheets and product labels for Basic Coatings® finishes, one trick that can help in lower humidity is to add a little water to our finishes (up to 12 oz. per gallon). This will extend the application and flow time and allow the finish to level properly in dry conditions.

    Floor Maintenance
    With cooler climates and drier air, dust migration also increases. Excessive dust makes floors slippery and can increase wear. Inclement weather radically increases tracked-in dirt, salt, sand, and grit, so cleaning schedules should be increased to compensate. Frequent dust mopping and cleaning with Basic Coating’s Squeaky™ Cleaner is an excellent method to remove dust, dirt, and other buildup. Also, we recommend using a matting system by the entrance of your door to avoid potential slip and fall accidents from dirt and contaminants brought in from the outdoors.

    Wood Shrinkage
    When moisture levels drop, wood shrinkage is an entirely natural process that opens up cracks between boards in wood floors. Unfortunately, opening cracks are most always noticeable and objectionable in newly installed or freshly resanded floors.

    Inadequate building materials and subfloors, insufficient nailing or gluing of flooring, little or no acclimation of flooring before installation, or improper sealer/finish systems can all aggravate a shrinkage problem. The real and only cause of shrinkage, however, is loss of moisture in the wood, and the only reliable way to prevent cracks from opening up is to maintain constant relative humidity year-round. A simple investment in a humidifier and/or dehumidifier can do wonders in this regard.

    The cooler months can be a hard time for your hardwood floors, but a few simple steps can dramatically decrease the risk of damage. Look to Basic Coatings for more tips and recommendations for your hardwood floors!

  • 5 Simple Ways to Prevent Applicator/Finish Streaks: Finish Aesthetics from the NWFA

    Sep 24, 2019

    applicator streaks

    Applicator/finish streaks is a term used to describe visible lines or ridges in the finish that are caused by the application tool used to apply the coating. This type of surface effect is caused by a thicker line of finish being applied along the edges of the applicator, such as a T-bar, roller, or paint pad not leveling or flowing out upon drying. This surface defect is made worse by fast-setting environmental conditions during coating, i.e., high temperatures and/or low humidity. If it dries too fast, the normal ability of the finish to flow out is impaired.

    If you are experiencing these types of issues, you have come to the right place. Here are a few simple prevention techniques that can save you from a streaky floor:
    • Make sure all applicator tools (pads or rollers) are clean and soft all over. Not cleaning thoroughly can cause hard spots that can leave distinct lines in the finish.
    • Allow the finish to acclimate to room temperature. If the finish is too hot, it might not level out properly.
    • If the sun is shining through a window onto the floor, cover the window or coat the floor when the sun is not shining on the floor. If the floor is too hot, the finish might not level out properly.
    • Restrict air flow when applying the finish. This will allow the finish to flow and level out properly. A good rule of thumb is to increase airflow about 30 to 45 minutes after your complete application of finish.
    • Be mindful of your applicator technique. Never leave lines across grain where possible and feather-out as needed. 

    If you are still experiencing applicator/finish streaks, we recommend you contact a Basic Coatings® representative to further assess your needs.

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

  • We Didn’t Start the Fire...but You Should Be Learning How to Prevent It Burning

    Sep 17, 2019


    Setting the Scene
    Picture this: you, a successful wood flooring contractor, have landed a very lucrative full sand and refinish project on what was clearly once a beautiful hardwood floor. It’s day one of the job; the morning air is crisp, your Starbucks cold brew coffee is full, Billy Joel is playing on the radio, and the day is ripe with the promise of restoring this floor to its former glory. You are certain that the before and after photos will garner more likes and new followers on social media than any ever before. You’ve finished cleaning the floor to remove contaminants, and now you pull out Old Faithful, your tried-and-true, most favorite sanding machine.

    Trial by Fire
    Like countless mornings before, you plug Old Faithful in, switch off the safety, and start her up. With the grain of the wood, you walk her forward and then walk her back, walk her forward and then walk her back, each new strip of sanded floor slightly overlapping with the last. The first quarter of the room is done, then the first half, you’re nearing three-quarters now, done! You power her down, walk over to your Starbucks, and you’re taking a sip of coffee when you smell it. Is something…burning? You look over at Old Faithful, and her collection bag is ablaze! Thinking quickly, you run towards the machine as you pull the lid from your Starbucks cup, and you douse the fire with your cold brew. The flames die, and you think how easily the entire job could have just gone up in smoke.

    So, What Happened?
    You’ve heard of it happening, but you didn’t think it would happen to you: spontaneous combustion. Although uncommon, wood dust can and does catch on fire in the dust collection bag when sanding wood floors. The heat created from the friction of the machine and sandpaper on the floor can increase to the point—400 degrees Fahrenheit, to be precise—that the sawdust begins to smolder inside the bag and ignite. Combustion happens much more frequently when an old floor is sanded, because the old finishes on the floor become ground into a fine powder, and when a floor freshly coated with a solvent-based finish needs to be sanded. Though rare, combustion in the latter scenario is especially dangerous due to increased flammability. Spontaneous combustion of wood dust can also occur after the dust has been removed from the collection bag.

    Only YOU Can Prevent Wood Dust Fires
    It is the responsibility of the contractor to minimize the potential for spontaneous ignition. Follow these steps to ensure that spontaneous combustion of wood dust from your job stays only in your mind’s eye:
    • Dust bags should be emptied often. Do not let them become more than half full before emptying them.
    • Empty dust collection bags before transporting the machine or leaving the job site, even if you are just leaving for a short time.
    • Always advise keeping fire extinguishers in the truck or on the job.
    • Smoking should be prohibited on the jobsite and in the truck.
    • Any saw blades should be sharpened such that heat buildup due to friction is minimized.
    • Always remove dust receptacles from the job site at the end of every day.
    • To ensure dust and shavings do not ignite, spray them with cool water.
    • When dried, dispose of the wood waste according to state and local waste disposal regulations. Disposal guidelines will vary depending on the area of the country, so you should consult your local waste disposal office for specific guidance.

    Don’t play fast and loose with wood dust. Taking steps to avoid spontaneous combustion could save a piece of equipment, an entire job, or even a life.

  • The Two Oaks and Tannin Pull

    Aug 20, 2019


    Solid wood flooring is one of the most recognizable and unique flooring surfaces available on the market today. There is an abundance of options, from the species of wood and its color or warmth to the more technical aspects such as wood hardness or ability to accept stain. These and many other factors should be considered before choosing a type of wood for any given project. One of the most common of these wood choices in the United States is oak.

    There are two main species of oak that are prevalent in the solid wood flooring market: red oak and white oak. It is vitally important to fully comprehend their intrinsic differences and how to distinguish between the two, as they react differently when used with waterbased coatings.  Typically, there is a noticeable color difference between the two, one being “white” or “blonder,” and the other being “red,” but this is not always the case.

    At times, distinguishing between red and white oak can be so difficult that now some companies manufacture testing kits. However, if you understand a few parameters, telling the difference is a piece of cake. To make sure you have the correct wood for your purposes prior to purchase, follow these instructions:
    • Remove a piece of flooring from the pallet.
    • Turn the board so the end is easily visible.
    • Visible holes or “bullets” in the cut end of the board indicate red oak.
    • “Fills” or “no bullets” indicate white oak.
    • Crossbred flooring typically is a mix of “bullets” and “fills” and should be treated as if it is white oak.

    (click to enlarge)

    But why does all this even matter?

    Wood is made up of many active chemicals.  One of those chemicals, tannin, is most prevalent in white oak and is very water soluble. Certain waterbased products can react with high levels of tannic acid, causing discoloration or heavy spots. This results in blotchy floors, with potential color differences seen all across the field. Pulling out these tannins will cause a color transfer from board to board.  Some professionals report this color as purple, green, or even red. When applying stain, if the stain pigment does not completely penetrate and fill-out these “fills,” tannin can pull up through the stain and create an even bigger disaster.

    The answer to preventing any potential unsatisfactory results is two full coats of a waterbased sealer that is designed to prevent tannin pull, such as Basic Coatings® Lock ‘N Seal™. This pre-catalyzed waterbased sealer has a specific blend of resins and solvents formulated to lock out the tannin pull problem.

    Interested in learning more about Lock ‘N Seal? Click here or call us at 800-441-1934.

  • Double Staining = Double Trouble

    Aug 14, 2019


    Have you ever finished staining a floor and wished a darker or lighter color of stain had been selected? Applying a second coat of stain to change the color is something you might try once, but the chances of success are not very good.  A second coat of stain can cause other issues like peeling of the top coat(s).

    Some may wonder, “What’s the big deal? It’s just another layer of stain.” The problem is that most stains contain color pigments, dyes, and a very small amount of binder. The first coat is thin enough for the top coat or sealer to penetrate and bond to the wood fiber. If a second coat is applied, it builds the thickness and two things happen. First, the sealer or top coat cannot penetrate through the stain to grab the wood fiber. This causes the second issue, the bond now relies on the strength of the stain to bond the surface coats to the wood. Most stains do not have enough internal strength to hold the entire film surface together, and this can cause peeling of the finish.

    One way to avoid picking the wrong color is to do a test area using the actual wood and actual stain color.  It’s not that uncommon to do a couple of samples to give the decision maker a couple options before the real work begins. New Basic Coatings® HyperTone™ Stains consists of 14 oil/water hybrid stain colors that can all be mixed and matched—including black and white—for darker or lighter custom colors.

    The proprietary oil/water hybrid technology utilized in HyperTone Stains also facilitates greater pigment penetration for more intense colors. If you don’t like the color of the stain once it’s applied, it’s best to resand and restain the entire floor.

    For more information about HyperTone Stains, please click here.


  • Don’t Get “Stuck” on Adhesives!

    Jul 25, 2019

    No Tape

    If you are a wood flooring professional, you probably already know that adhesive tape is very harmful to gym floors. Coaches, athletic directors, and other contractors, however, may not know the dangers that tape pose; namely, the non-drying solvents, or plasticizers, found in tape can damage wood floor finishes.

    How do you get around these detrimental adhesive tapes? While we do not recommend use of any adhesives on any finished wood floor, the reality is that tape is still and likely will continue to be heavily used on gym floors. Here are some helpful tips and tricks to pass along to gym floor customers on how to properly handle adhesive tape on gym floors, so as to minimize the risk of harm to the finish. 

    1.) When removing tape, pull at a 45° angle, as opposed to pulling the tape in the same direction in which it was laid. This will decrease the chances of the finish peeling. 

    2.) Do not leave tape on the floor for more than 24 hours at a time. 

    3.) When protecting the floor, it is best to tape the protective paper to another piece of protective paper. This is a better solution than taping directly to the gym floor.

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  • Skip the Peel!

    Jul 18, 2019

    Peeling Hardwood Floor

    Is your floor peeling? Can you pull a thin layer of finish off like wallpaper? If a floor is not finished properly, you may run into problems down the road, including a peeling floor. Not only is this unsightly, but it can leave your wood floors susceptible to damage! Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself to determine why your floor is peeling.

    1.) Is the peel easy to remove from the wood or is it only loose in specific areas? Use a razor knife to see if the film peels off easily. If the peel is loose all over, the coats were not bonded well between them. If just occasional spots are loose, it is more likely due to some local contamination or condition.

    2.) Is the back of the film shiny?  Look at the film piece and note where on the board the failure occurred. The middle of the board can indicate the lower coat was cured or there was not enough abrasion between the coats to maintain a good bond for the next coat.  If the peeling occurred on an edge of a board, it could also mean expansion from moisture issues or improper abrasion.

    3.) Is there color on the film? If there was a stain on the floor, look to see if there is color on the peeled film. If so, the stain was not dry when coated … regardless of how long the contractor waited. Also, ask if the contractor double-coated the stain. In most cases, double-coating stain will result in failure to bond, because the internal strength of the stain is weaker than the coating bond.

    4.) Is there still finish under the peel or is it bare wood? Test with the razor knife to be sure. If there is still film, then the failure was between coats. If the area is bare wood, then the failure is off the wood.

    5.) Are you left with bare wood? If the peeling leaves bare wood, the options are narrowed to a sealer failure, or the wood was not prepared properly before coating. Check the peeling for abrasion marks to determine proper floor preparation, or contact the sealer manufacturer for more information. Proper mechanical abrasion is key to aiding adhesion.

    6.) Do the meter readings match or is the floor wet? Check the floor with a moisture meter along with some adjacent wood surfaces such as trim, beams, etc. Moisture issues can cause excessive wood swelling and increase the chances for delamination.

    If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, there is a good possibility you have your reason for a peeling floor. If none of these reasons pertain to you and your floor is still peeling, we recommend calling an NWFA Certified Professional.

  • Don’t Let Summer Floor Finish Issues
    Make You Hot Under the Collar

    Jul 10, 2019

    Welcome Summer

    As summer heats up, rising temperatures can give rise to a host of finishing problems. Here are some common problems and their solutions.

    ISSUE: Whenever finish is applied with an applicator, the churning action of Trapped Bubbles spreading works small bubbles into the floor surface. Normally the bubbles will break out in a few seconds, resulting in a smooth and even finish. However, when airflow is warm, the warm air blowing across the freshly applied finish can cause the bubbles not to pop, trapping them on the surface. In an air-conditioned environment this can still happen, as the air conditioner pushes a large volume of air in order to keep up with the heat.

    PREVENTION: To avoid this problem, add a small amount of water to the finish in order to lower the viscosity. Adding a small amount of water allows a few extra seconds for any bubbles to break before the finish surface dries. If the ambient temperature is between 85°F and 95°F, add 5% water to the finish after mixing the finish with catalyst. If the ambient temperature is above 95°F, mix in up to 10% water, adding a little water at a time until the working level is just right. As good rule of thumb, 12 ounces of water added to one gallon of finish is close to 10%. Do not add more than 12% water.
    This process can be utilized with all Basic Coatings finishes.

    ISSUE: Solar gain is a difficulty any time of year but tends to be Solar Gain more common during hot weather. Sunlight beating down through windows, patio doors, or window walls will considerably heat up wood floors. If a dark stain is on the floor, even more heat will be absorbed. Floor temperatures in these situations can reach as high as 180°F. If finish is applied over such a hot floor, the finish will set up so quickly that it will blister. In addition, the finish may not wet the wood well enough to stay bonded, drying so rapidly that it never penetrates the wood and may later peel.

    PREVENTION: The easiest way to prevent solar gain is to cover any windows, doors, etc. with an opaque material that does not allow sunlight to heat up the floor. Another way to control solar gain is to work at a time of day when the sunlight does not penetrate the glass and/or is considerably weaker. If it is not possible or practical to cover the glass, the work can be completed very early in the morning (4 a.m.–6 a.m.) before the sun can heat up the floor.

    ISSUE: Hot finish on a cold floor will create millions of tiny bubbles at the Bubbles at End of Grainend of the grain. If the finish is  stored in the back of a truck sitting in summer sun, it can get as hot as 160°F. When this hot finish is brought into an air-conditioned jobsite and applied to a cold floor, the warm finish begins to penetrate the wood and heats up the air within the wood. This air expands as it is heated and is trapped by the swiftly drying finish.

    PREVENTION: Bring all finish into the jobsite before beginning and allow it to come to room temperature before applying it. Never apply finish that is warmer than the floor.

    Have you been burned by other weather-related issues? Email us at with floor finish problems you’ve encountered, and we’ll select one each month to feature on our blog. If your finish issue is selected, we’ll name you in our post and also send you some Basic Coatings swag!