When it comes to choosing a floor coating for your timber floor, there may feel like an overwhelming number of options, each with its own pros and cons. Having a good quality floor coating will ensure that you’re getting a longer lifespan out of your floor. Without it, there’s a much higher chance for the floor to warp and show signs of wear quicker.
Water, oil-based, and solvent-based solutions each have varying lists of pros and cons. It’s time to dissect this list and find out which one is best for you and your floor.
Compared to the others’, solvent-based coatings are seen as the more ‘traditional’ finish. They offer the highest gloss option compared to other coatings and are available in matte, satin, and gloss finishes.
There are some great pros but also some important cons to take note of when considering which floor coating is best for you.
- Durability – When it comes to durability, solvent-based floor coatings are one of the best. These coatings can withstand years of wear and tear and work great in both domestic and commercial locations.
- Finish – Solvent-based timber floor coatings have one of the best, brightest finishes. There is the option to choose between a matte, satin, or gloss finish, however, the gloss finish is one of the brightest, highest quality finishes. Solvent finishes enhance and warm the colour of your timber. This gives your timber a great looking colour.
- Health concerns – When it comes to solvent-based floor coatings, there are some health concerns to be wary of if you choose this option. Solvent-based floor coatings are classified as poisons and are dangerous not just for the tradespeople who apply the coatings, but also homeowners and other ‘passive’ users who come into contact with these products. While this finish is being applied, you’ll be required to evacuate your property for up to 14 days until the coating is cured. This includes taking any household pets you own with you. This type of floor coating can be especially harmful to asthma sufferers, children and the elderly. When applying this type of coating, it’s also best to clear out your fridge, freezer, and pantry, as these fumes can penetrate through and potentially taint your food.
- Colouring – Over time, solvent-based coatings can often change colour based on UV light, turning them an orange/yellow colour, and making them brittle. This colour change can be quite dramatic, and floors coated with them are unable to be repaired without the repaired area looking totally different to the rest of the floor. As this type of coating is a surface coating, you will need to sand the floors back and reapply if needed, rather than try to apply over an old finish. Applying over an old finish will make for an uneven appearance.
Oil-based floor coatings come in two different finishes – matte or satin. These floor coatings need a bit more maintenance than those with solvent-based finishes, as they don’t have a solid ‘plastic’ surface.
Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of oil-based finishes.
- Easier to re-finish – As oil-based coatings don’t have the protective surface solvent-based finishes do, it’s easier to re-finish areas that show signs of wear and tear, without making it look like a different colour to the rest of the floor.
- Cheaper to fix – As this coating doesn’t have the same type of protective barrier on the top, you’re able to make spot repairs to scratches or stains without having to sand back your floor. This makes for a much cheaper result, working in the customer’s favour.
- Colour – Oil-based floor coatings will enhance the timber grains in your floor. This coating will darken in colour over time. It’s a penetrating oil so enhances the natural appearance of the timber and can be used on oily or sappy timbers.
- Higher maintenance – Oil-based finishes are much higher maintenance than others. As there is no ‘plastic’ covering, it’s much easier for dirt and grime to penetrate the timber which may become difficult to get out if you don’t keep your floor clean. This type of coating will need to be re-surfaced every two to three years.
- No gloss finish – Gloss finish makes your floorboards shine. However, oil-based floor coatings only offer a matte or satin finish. If you’re after a glossy finish, oil-based coatings may not be the best option.
Lastly is the water-based coating option. This option is the most environmentally considerate and provides the lowest level of disruption to tenants. They provide a more natural look and feature a range of benefits.
- Environmentally-friendly – Water-based floor coatings are considered to be the most environmentally friendly option. It doesn’t produce the toxic fumes that solvent-based coatings do, as they are water-borne.
- Less hassle – As there are no toxic fumes upon application, meaning you won’t have the inconvenience of moving out while the floors are being done. Water-based floor coatings dry a lot quicker and produce non-toxic odours. This means you can wait out the drying period at home.
- More natural appearance – These types of floor coatings make for a much more natural look once completed. Unlike solvent based finishes that can look plastic and change colour with UV exposure, water-based finishes look a lot more natural, and won’t be affected by UV – they remain much more colour stable. Available in matte, satin, or gloss finishes, it is also a highly durable option.
- Price – One of the only downsides for water-based coatings is the price. As it is a natural, environmentally friendly product, the price can often be quite expensive. However, the benefits greatly outweigh this, and they are definitely worth the investment for your home.
As you can see, there are a few different types of floor coatings to choose from. A well-coated timber floor can enhance the quality and value of your home, so it’s important to ensure you choose the right one for your situation. If you’re unsure what finish to use on your floor, or think it’s time your floors were resurfaced, get in touch today.