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Hardwood Floor Care Tips and Recommendations
  • What is Green Floor Care?

    Oct 07, 2015

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    Green floor care has several components and is essential in maintaining a green floor or any floor in which the goal is to reduce cleaning’s impact on the environment. In essence, we can define green floor care accordingly:

    Green floor care is a comprehensive system approach to floor maintenance that includes all the chemicals, tools, equipment, and related products used to clean, maintain, strip, and refinish a floor.

    By saying it is a “system approach,” we mean that the floor and its maintenance are only as green as the products used. If, for instance, a non-green stripper is used, we no longer have a green floor care program in place, even if all the other chemicals, tools, and equipment are green.

    The key components of a green floor care program include the following:

    Vacuuming: When dust mopping, some dust and other contaminants can become airborne, negatively impacting indoor air quality. A backpack with a high filtration filter can eliminate this, plus vacuuming the floor actually pulls – vacuums up – dust and soils from the pores of the floor, resulting in a more effective cleaning.

    Chemicals: It is essential to use green floor care products, and it is often a wise idea to use the same green products from the same manufacturer. The reasons for this are many, but key is that many green floor care products from the same manufacturer have a synergy – they are designed to work together. The result often is better product performance, and using a certified stripper, finish, and cleaner typically translates into reduced costs, less work, and a greener environment.

    Equipment: In general, green floor care equipment refers to machines engineered to be more sustainable and use water and chemicals more effectively than older or more conventional floor machines. They are designed to have built-in vacuum or “dust control” systems or “emissions packages” to help capture the dust generated in floor care work, keeping it from becoming airborne. Further, the batteries should be safer and more environmentally responsible than conventional or older batteries.

    One further component of green floor care that cannot be overlooked is worker training. Cleaning professionals must understand how to use green equipment, chemicals, and tools to help ensure that they not only are used properly, but also are used in a way that reduces the impact of the cleaning process on the environment, and the health of the cleaning worker and all building users.

  • Too Much Bubbly …

    May 20, 2015

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    Too much bubbly can leave you with a headache.  Bubbles are imperfections from foam in dry finish and can easily be confused with particles, bumps, or dirt.  If you are not sure what you are dealing with, you can use a magnifying glass and a razor blade to distinguish between the two. Unlike particles or dirt, bubbles are hollow. If you are able to poke a hole with the razor blade, you are dealing with a bubble. If there is no hollow base to the imperfection, then you are dealing with another issue that is most likely related to dirt or particles that dried in the finish.

    See how to prevent floor bubbles and how to repair your floor finish.

    How to Prevent Floor Bubbles:

    Too much working back and forth of an applicator creates bubbles.   Generally this form of bubble is seen at row ends and in hard to reach areas. Flow the finish with the applicator; do not pull any more than absolutely necessary to cover the floor. Use easy strokes. Pick up the applicator like a drum sander; have it moving at the end of each stroke as you lift the applicator to feather out the stop. Have it moving as you set it down gently at the beginning of each stroke. Drop it hard and you will form bubbles and a heavy line of finish.

    Very fast dry conditions can “freeze” bubbles into place before they break and the finish has a chance to flow out into a smooth film. Bubbles will be in high-air-movement areas, such as under fans, in front of doors, or by windows left open for ventilation. Close up the jobsite to apply finish. Keep the environment free of air flow for 30–45 minutes, so the bubbles have a chance to break before opening up the jobsite to dry the finish.

    Hot finish on a cold floor will leave millions of very tiny bubbles on the floor. Finish left in the back of a van in the summer heat will get as hot as 160°F. This hot finish will set a quick surface film. The nature of the hot finish heats up the floor, expanding the air in the pores of the wood. As this hot air expands, it will blow a tiny bubble at the end of the wood pore under the partially set film surface. This phenomenon can be differentiated from other problems because the bubbles follow the grain pattern of the wood. Bring all materials into the jobsite so they can acclimate to the conditions on the floor. It is not as important to have them either warm or cool as it is to have them the same temperature as the floor. The finish and the floor should be the same temperature for the best results.

    Another cause of bubbles is using aged, separated, or mixed finishes.  Fresh and recently mixed finishes will dry smoother and level better with fewer bubbles. Rock all containers of finish before using to mix the matting agent uniformly throughout the finish. Traditionally, matte finishes need to be agitated before use, but it is a good practice to mix all finishes before use. Even single-component gloss finishes will benefit from agitation before use.

    How to Repair Floor Bubbles:

    If there are only a few bubbles in scattered locations, use a sharp scraper to cut off the tops of the bubbles and touch in fresh finish. If you have bubbles everywhere, but they are surface bubbles, a good screening and recoat should take care of the problem. If you scrape the tops of the bubbles, then hand sand the scraped areas with screen or strips for small spot repairs. If the bubbles are deep below the surface, then it is probably faster and more productive to just sand off the finish and start over.

    If you are still having trouble with floor finish bubbles, a Basic Coatings® representative will be able to help you with your problem. Contact us today!

  • Oh, Those Pesky Swirl Marks

    Dec 11, 2014

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    Remember the recent job you completed by full sanding and applying that absolutely gorgeous dark walnut stain, and how heartbreaking it was when you went back to apply the finish and noticed all those sander and swirl marks? What must have gone through your mind knowing that all the hard work you put in must now be sanded away and completed again to correct the sanding issues? Talk about throwing away profits!

    The heartache you felt could have certainly been avoided by using a Basic Coatings® Sand Dragon Orbital Sander. With a weight package to increase the head pressure, the Sand Dragon makes it easy to apply level abrasion to the floor for proper smoothness and eliminate those pesky sander or swirl marks. As dark stained floors are again becoming popular, using the correct machine and proper grit abrasives will ensure that you should not have to complete your job twice to be paid once.

    dragon-orbitalThe Basic Coatings Sand Dragon Orbital Sander is available in 20” and 28” widths, making it the ideal choice for both small residential areas and large open areas, like gymnasiums. Having 3,400 rpm orbit speed and 1.5 horsepower make this the perfect combination for final sanding of hardwood or inter-coat abrading of even the toughest finishes. Top it all off with having an optional dust containment attachment and you have all the machine you will ever need to complete that flawless flooring project that your clients deserve.

  • A Common Misconception

    Mar 28, 2014

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    Applying as many heavy coats of finish as possible is best…

    This is a common misconception. Multiple thick coats do not dry properly and will scratch easier. The total number of recommended coats of sealer and finish is normally three to four on a newly sanded floor. Most often, this includes one or two sealer coats and one or two finish coats. All coatings should be evenly applied at their recommended coverage rates. This will ensure proper drying, best appearance, and wear resistance.

    Excessive top coatings tend to give the floor a look as if it were plastic or artificial. In the case of solvent-based finishes, which yellow over time, the appearance of the wood grain becomes obliterated. It will also get “murky” if you apply too many coats and do not allow the proper curing time for each layer. Too many coats can make it difficult to determine a wood species when numerous coatings have been applied over the years, giving a look of a painted surface.

    The type of hardwood floor you have and use can determine the amount of finish coats you apply. Make sure you speak with an expert or your hardwood floor contractor if you have questions.

  • The Four Stages of Curing

    Jan 10, 2014

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    “Is it dry yet?” or “how much longer?” are common questions asked during a curing process. The proper mechanism for finish drying and curing varies by type of finish. It is important to know that each type of finish has its own needs and drying points, but there are several commonly used terms to describe certain points along the dry curve, regardless of the type finish. These are the four most common stages of curing.

    Set point:  The first stage that a finish arrives at is the point where it will no longer flow and level. This is called the set point. It is not dry, it may be tacky, and it may even feel liquid when touched, but enough liquid carrier has evaporated so the product will not flow and level any further. This is sometimes referred to as the gel point in two-part systems.

    Dry to the touch: This is the second stage of finish drying. It is just what it says; if you lightly touch the surface, liquid will not transfer to your finger. It will be dust-free at this point in the dry cycle, and no dust sticks to the surface. Most of the time, it will be wet underneath, only the “skinned” over surface is dry. This is also the point at which air movement can be started across the surface to draw off the liquid carrier.

    Dry hard: This is the third stage stage. It is hard enough and dry enough to go on to the next steps. The floor can be screened and another coat added, or it can be walked on lightly. Normally, it cannot be covered or rugs put back at this dry stage, even though many contractors turn the job over to the owner at this point.

    Fully cured: This will vary from days to months depending on the type of finish and the conditions of the jobsite. It is the point that the finish develops 100% of all its properties.

    These drying stages are well known by the finish manufacturers and any contractor can get a good estimate of the time the various stages will take to develop by talking with their supplier. When asking the supplier, the contractor would help himself by accurately describing the conditions to the best of his knowledge.

     

  • Toss the Steam Mop

    Dec 04, 2013

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    If you go to the store, chances are there will be steam mops on the shelves advertising beautiful results for your hardwood floors. The reality is that steam mops are not intended for word floors; in fact, steam mops can ruin your hardwood floors over time and leave you with higher repair costs and unnecessary maintenance.

    Moisture is a wood floor's worst enemy. Moisture content in wood floors can be defined as the weight of water in wood. This weight is expressed as a percentage. Wood fibers in your floor are dimensionally stable when moisture is above the saturation point. The saturation point is around 30% moisture content. When the saturation point dips below that, you are likely to see your wood change dimensions and start to discolor, warp, or distort. (Note that the saturation point may vary depending on the type of wood of your floors.) 

    Steam mops will give you a deep clean finish, but that is exactly why they are not ideal for wood floors. The deep penetration of steam into the wood surface to remove soils and contaminants will force unwanted water into your floors and increase the moisture percentage. Overtime, this can cause your floor boards to warp. (Picture above is of a warped floor board.)

    This does not mean that you can’t clean your floors. In fact, we advise that you use a recommended floor cleaner. To know if a floor cleaner is recommended for a hardwood floor and its finish, we suggest that you check with your contractor first. If you do not have a contractor, Basic Coatings® Squeaky Floor Care System will provide optimal results on both polyurethane and waterbased finishes. If you pair the recommended cleaner with a microfiber mop, you will see very satisfying results. Microfiber mops are great, because they are effective in removing dirt and dust without releasing particles into the air.

    For more information on Basic Coatings Squeaky Floor Care System, visit basiccoatings.com. For questions regarding Hardwood Floor Maintenance, contact an expert at Basic Coatings or call Customer Service at 1- 800-441-1934.

  • Snap, Crackle, Pop

    Oct 07, 2013

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    Hardwood floors are a common flooring choice for homeowners, as they are incredibly strong and add a level of elegance to any household. However, snap, crackle and pop are not words you want to associate with your hardwood floors. Floors are typically attached to the floor joists below with nails. Over time, the wood and nails may loosen and cause popping noises while you walk on them. This can be an annoying issue that may devalue your hardwood floors. To fix this problem, you can strategically find the particular wood floor panel that is popping and directly attach it to the floor joist with new nails. Follow the simple steps below to stop the pop!

    What you will need:

    • A safe release masking tape
    • Deep-scanning stud finder with metal scanning mode
    • Power drill
    • 10-penny finish nail
    • Hammer

    First, locate the popping portion of the wood floor by slowly walking across it. Press a piece of masking tape to the floor to mark the popping spot.

    Next, scan the area surrounding the marked spot using a deep-scanning stud finder. Locate the floor joist that supports that particular wood panel. Depending on the construction of the home, the joist will either run parallel or perpendicular to the nearest wall.

    Next, locate the center of the popping wood panel that is directly above the found floor joist. Drill a hole that is smaller than a 10-penny finish nail into the panel’s center point with a power drill. This tiny hole will prevent you from splitting the panel in half.

    Now, place a 10-penny finish nail into the drilled hole. Strike the nail with a hammer to affix the wood panel to the lower floor joist. This process should take some strength since the floor joist is extremely dense. The nail’s head should be below the wood’s surface.

    Finally, squeeze wood-colored filler putty onto the nail’s head. Leave adequate time to allow the putty to dry.

    Make sure you walk around the repaired area to verify that the popping noise has abated and do not install more than one nail in the same floor panel area. Clustering nails together can cause splitting in the hardwood structure.

    Tip: If you do not have a deep-scanning stud finder, you can locate the floor joists by scanning the floor for top nails. They will be covered with putty and located every 16 to 20 inches along the floor’s surface and denote the location and orientation of the floor joist below.

    These tips are also recommended by Amy Rodriguez, a professional writer from the San Fransisco Bay Area News. Follow SFGate on Facebook!

  • 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™!

  • It’s Just “Knot” Right

    Aug 30, 2013

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    Knots are a beautiful natural characteristic in wood floors; however, they can be troublesome. Knot peeling is a common issue with soft woods and can leave your floor looking poorly finished.

    If you have knots in your floors, it is likely because the knots did not have the pitch or sap “set” during the kiln dry process. Heat from windows or other sources draws the pitch to the surface pushing the finish off. Above is an extreme example of pitch bleeding back up through a knot.

    Don’t worry, this issue is preventable. Knots can be sealed with a waterbased sealer, such as Basic Coatings® Emulsion Pro™, or shellac to prevent bleeding. If the floor is properly sealed, you should not find any peeling knots. If you have sealed the floor, and you are still finding your finish pushed to the surface, we recommend you contact your floor installation company or contact Basic Coatings®.

    To repair a peeling knot, the peeling finish needs to be cleaned off the affected areas until you reach bare wood. You may need to scrape the wood if necessary. Touch up with either shellac or a waterbased sealer.

    Note: As with most spot repairs, after completion of the repair, it will be necessary to screen and coat over the whole floor to make the appearance of the coating uniform.

  • Staining Made Easy

    Aug 07, 2013

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    Staining your hardwood floor can be a tricky and scary process. Stains are permanent, so it is essential that you are confident in your selection of stain color. There are many choices to be made when deciding on a hardwood floor stain, and you might find yourself overwhelmed. Here are a few tips to prevent stress and avoid staining difficulties.

    • Safety first: When staining a wood floor, make sure you protect your skin and eyes with the proper protection. We recommend wearing safety glasses and disposable rubber gloves.
    • Test strip: Test your stain color on a scrap piece of wood to ensure you like the color before you start staining your entire floor.
    • Blotches: To prevent blotches on wood, apply a thick coat of wood conditioner before you stain. The conditioner needs 15 minutes to dry before you apply your stain. It is not necessary to sand the floor after the conditioner dries.
    • Oil-based stains: Stir stain thoroughly before applying. This will prevent the dyes and pigments of the stain from settling on the bottom of the can and ensure an even-looking stain. If you choose to use an oil-based stain, make sure the room is well ventilated.
    • No fumes: If you do not want to deal with the fumes that come along with an oil based stain, try using a waterbased stain. Waterbased stains come in a large variety of colors and can be applied the same way as oil-based stains. Basic Coatings® has a large variety of waterbased products for your needs!
    • How to apply: Apply stain with a brush or a rag, depending on your preference. If you choose to use a brush, work both with the grain and against it. Apply a nice, even and thick coat of stain on the wood. For a lighter tone, make sure you wipe the stain off immediately. For a darker stain, let the stain sit for five to ten minutes before wiping off. Be sure to wipe off the excess stain going in the direction of the grain to guarantee the stain gets into the wood opposed to settling on top.
    • Water and oil do not mix: Do not mix a waterbased stain and an oil-based stain. If you want to mix stains to create your own customized color, make sure that the stains are made by the same manufacturer and are both either waterbased or oil-based. Measure the amounts of each stain used and write it down so you can duplicate the mix if necessary.

  • Don’t Slip Into a Danger Zone!

    Jul 29, 2013

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    Accident prevention is always something on our minds and it is important that cleaning professionals and flooring installation companies take added measures to ensure floors are slip-resistant. Sometimes it may be hard to understand why a floor is slippery. Here is a list of reasons why floors may seem slippery following a floor refinish.

    1.) Not cleaned properly: Often times the floor that is being refinished is not cleaned the correct way or often enough. Many times, accidents can be prevented with proper cleaning. Dust accumulations can make a floor seem slippery. Pull out those mops and wipe the dust away!

    2.) The wrong chemical was used: When looking to buy a floor refinisher, make sure you check the label to see if it is “slip-resistant.” If you are worried about having a slick floor, do not invest your money on a product that is not slip-resistant. These products are usually higher quality so they are priced higher; however, it is worth the price when you are not spending your money at the doctor’s office!

    3.) Too few or too less- If there are not enough coats of refinisher on the floor, then your result may be a slippery floor. Same goes for too many coats. We recommend you apply three to four coats of floor finish and then test for slip resistance. Apply another coat if necessary.

    4.) An oily mop: An oily or over-treated dust mop can cause a floor to be slippery. We recommend you machine scrub the floor, and then go over it with a non-oil dust mop.

    5.) Dirty tools: Make sure when you are refinishing any floor, that you thoroughly clean all your tools and cleaning supplies. Contaminants may contain oil or substances that will make your floor a danger zone.

    We care about your safety! Use these helpful hints and tips for your future projects to prevent an accident! Basic Coatings can help you with any questions you might have regarding floor care. Contact us using the web form or by calling Customer Service at 800-441-1934.

  • "Is It Dry Yet?"

    Jul 22, 2013

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    If you want to ensure a long lasting finish on your hardwood floors, it is important that you allow the appropriate amount of drying time. While waterbased floor coatings are known for their fast drying times in comparison to oil-based finishes, there are still a number of factors that influence drying times for optimal results, including:

    • Amount of air movement and circulation over the drying surface
    • Film thickness
    • Relative humidity
    • Temperature

    Amount of Air Circulation
    Air circulation is very important when it comes to drying  floor finishes. Without it, the solvent and water evaporating from the finish can quickly saturate a small layer of air above the finish, causing  the rate of evaporation to slow down significantly. For example, if your floor is in an enclosed area, the amount of time it takes for the finish to dry will be much longer than a floor in a room with proper air circulation. To ensure the right amount of air circulation, you can open windows, doors or install a fan to keep the air moving. Always wait until the finish has “set up” and is tack-free before introducing air movement to prevent dust accumulation or a ripple in the finish. This will normally take 30 minutes to an hour.

    Film Thickness
    Many are not aware, but floor finishes dry from the top down. Water and solvents must migrate through the wet film to evaporate. This will cause the curing process to become slower as film thickness increases. This simply means that thicker films will take longer to dry, stay softer longer and potentially damage your newly finished floors. Make sure that the previous layer of coating is fully dried before you apply your second coat.

    Relative Humidity
    When there is more humidity in the air, there is more moisture in the air. This can dramatically slow down the drying process for your floors. If it just so happens to be humid on the day you are finishing your floors, try to increase the airflow with a fan.

    Temperature
    The last factor that can impact drying time is temperature. There are two ways that temperature can influence drying rate. 1.) Temperature increases the air’s capacity to carry vapor. This can increase the drying rate, but only if the air is circulating and moving. 2.) The cooler the temperature, the longer the drying time. When the temperature is cooler, it slows the curing rate. Your result will be a slower drying time and a softer floor.

    Waiting for your floor to finish drying can be a long process, but if you want the best results, be patient! Your beautiful floor finish will be finished drying before you know it. We recommend Basic Coating’s® StreetShoe® NXT for a fast curing finish.

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