Types of Floor Finishes

No more Eukula

A few days ago we found out that Eukula will no longer be sold to the US any more. Apparently there is only one major Eukula dealer in the States and these guys are having some tough times with the main office in Germany. To make things even more complicated the manufacturer had to change the formula of the poly due to some new law that they just passed in Germany. Long story short: no more Eukula for us (at least for now).

Ok, so what is the best alternative? We think that Arboritec will be a great option. We’ll talk about this brand in the near future.

Poly Review: Glitsa Oil-based Hi-VOC Polyurethane

Seems like there are plenty of new (at least to us) products, which are becoming more and more popular among the floor guys. One of them is Glitsa.

Apparently it is widely known on the West Coast and pretty new to the East Coast where we’re from. I remember when our suppliers just started to sell this poly it was gone in the matter of days. I had (and actually still don’t have) any idea why, so we figured we’ll try it out: the hype around Glitsa was huge!

We purchased a few gallons of this stuff when it became available and gave it a shot.

First impression when we just opened the cans: boy, does it stink! We’re already working with the sealer which literary makes us cry(I’m talking about Zinsser), and now this!

Anyway, we couldn’t give up, so we started to work with it. Here is what we’ve noticed:

1. The coat seems to be thicker than of any other product. However, it’s more than likely just an impression because the coverage area is the same as any other poly: around 500-600 sq. feet per gallon.

2. The best way to apply Glitsa is by rolling it. Otherwise, if it is applied by the brush, it is pretty easy to leave puddles.

3. If the weather is humid this product more then likely will take longer than usual to dry: we had quite a few jobs where we had to come back later (sometimes a day later) due to not completely dry poly. Apparently it’s not that humid on the West Coast but in New England rainy/foggy days are quite usual.

4. Once the job is done it takes quite some time for the smell of Glitsa to go away even if you’ll open the windows etc.

Overall, I think it’s not a bad stuff. Pricing is pretty reasonable and the result is decent. I do have to say, however, that Glitsa is not one of my favorite products, but it is much better/cheaper than some of the other products that I know of.

LNL 1500

So, here is the story. I was approached by the company that sells a wide range of product and materials that we use to refinish and install hardwoodflooring. Among the other types  of poly,they mentioned LNL 1500. They said that this product is even better than two-component Eukula and that it costs less as well.I was intrigued, so I order a gallon of that stuff just to try it out.

First time we used it was over the sealer for the second coat. Everything went pretty well, except for five minutes later, when the poly started to turn milky white. Man,did I get mad! We were sanding the floor all day for this to happen??? We decided to wait and see what’s going to happen when the poly will completely dry and surprisingly all the white stuff disappeared within the next couple of hours and the floors looked beautiful! When we used this stuff on the final coat, nothing like that happened: everything went nice and smooth.

Overall, I think it’s a great product to work with: just like any other water-based polyurethanes, it dries quickly,almost doesn’t smell and just like Eukula, gives you enough time to do whatever you have to do before it dries.You don’t have to add the water in it(unlike two-component Eukula) and it claims protect the floor against the water damage also.

Zinsser Bull’s Eye Sealer

The other day we went to get some sealer to the store, where we always shop.We were looking to get the stuff that we use all the time- Lenmar Rapid Seal.Unfortunately the store was out of Lenmar,so we had to look for an alternative. The guys that work there offered us Bull’s Eye. They said that the product was good, as long as we apply it really quickly, because it dries really fast.We ended up buying it:  we were curious about this product(we never used it before, although it is not a new stuff to the market) and it costs less, too(I believe the price is a little over $20 per gallon versus Lenmar’s $25 per gallon).

The first thing we noticed, when we opened the can is the smell.This sealer stinks bad!!! I saw a lot of different products, but this one is out of control! There is no way to work with it without a mask: the smell will kill you! I tried to do one room and almost died.

Another thing about Bull’s Eye: when they told us at the store that it dries fast, there weren’t lying!  By the time I was done with the room, I could start re-coating it again-the floor was dry! If you are not very familiar with the applicator,then better do it with the brush- it is much slower, but at least you will get a nice result.I used an applicator, and had to run like a racer – otherwise the sealer would dry on me.At the end of the room I felt like I just won a marathon! 

The last inconvenient thing about this product: after using it, say goodbye to your brush, or whatever it is that you’re using. Sealer eats it! I was coating a house not a long time ago, and by the time I was done, my brush looked like somebody chewed it!

Now the good.The drying time of Bull’s Eye is obviously inconvenient to apply it, but you can actually re-coat the floor right after you done with it, which is amazing! It blends in pretty well,in case you need to do a touch up in the spot that you missed, gives a nice amber look to the wood, doesn’t lift up the grain of the wood and, most importantly, can be used under water- and oil-based finishes. I wouldn’t use it on the floors that have been stained, though: it could eat up the color(I’m not sure about it, but don’t really want to take a chance).

Overall, I think it’s a good product as long as you have a mask on and good at running.

A little more about Eukula.

I wrote about Eukula in my earlier posts. Now I just wanted to dig a little deeper into it and talk a little more about different Eukula products.

1. Sealer. Eukula produces their own sealer.The main advantages of it: dries fast(within 30 minutes), obviously seals great and pretty easy to apply.Main disadvantages: doesn’t give as rich amber look as Lenmar RapidSeal, you won’t be able to apply an oil-based finish over it, if ,for some reason you changed your mind and decided to go with oil rather then going with water and the biggest disadvantage- it stays tacky, so it is very hard to apply the 2nd coat over it. My personal opinion: use it only if you don’t have any other sealer (sorry, Eukula).

2.One-component yellowing polyurethane. My personal favourite. Easy to apply, dries quickly, gives an oil-based look to your floor, if applied over the right sealer, tough, and like I said earlier, you can actually add water into it without sacrificing the quality of the finish, if you need it to dry slower.With this finish(as well as with any other Eukula finishes) you can finish the job in one day. How cool is that???

3. One-component non-yellowing polyurethane.Almost as good as the previous type of poly. The only difference is, as you can tell from the name, it doesn’t yellow up the floor.You still can use it over the sealer and your floors will still have the amber look, but you have to be very careful, because if you will apply this poly a little thicker, your floors will look white, like you just bleached them.It is obviously the right choice for somebody who wants to pickle the floors.

4. Two-component non-yellowing polyurethane. The toughest stuff.As I mentioned before, great for commercial projects.Please, do not use it without adding the water: this poly dries FAST! On the other hand, if you will add some water into it, the coating will be easy as breeze.

Applying polyurethane (high-VOC)

Let’s talk about High-VOC poly. As I mentioned earlier, right now the only way to get it is in quarts.

Normal amount of coats- 3. Well, actually, it is 1 coat of sealer and 2 coats of polyurethane.Drying time after the the first coat could be from an hour (Lenmar Rapid Seal) to 8-10 hours(Harco sealer is a fine example.Although it says on the can that it dries in 2 hours, in real life it can take up to 12 hours).The second coat takes about 6-8 hours to cure, but it is not hard enough to light sand it and apply the final coat for another 6-8 hours.So the total time between the 2ndand the 3rd coat should be around 14-16 hours. 

Now-to the products.My favourite is Lenmar. It doesn’t smell as much, very easy to apply and dries pretty much at the time frame that you would expect.It does cost a little higher than the most other brands, but believe me, it is worth it. If there is no way for you to get Lenmar, try Duraseal, which is a pretty solid poly as well. I used to love Bona before as well, but I had a couple of issues with this product, so I’m not going to say that this is an awesome stuff. It is easy to apply, but the drying time is full of surprises: it can cure overnight, or wouldn’t harden for 2 days(no idea why would that happen to it: humidity? – maybe, but this does not occur as often with the other brands), not to mention that it is a little bit on the pricey side, too.

The brands, that that I wouldn’t use? First and foremost: stay away from Pro Finisher. Their sealer sucks, poly is very hard to apply, you have to mix it with the Paint Thinner, which, at the end will hurt the lasting of the finish. And if you won’t add the Thinner, after the coating is over and everything(hopefully) looks ok, you’ll fill like you just went to the gym: you’re going to sweat, your hands are going to be tired, not to mention that this poly stinks like crazy.

Actually, I would probably stay away from Minwax also: the price doesn’t meet the quality. For the amount of money that they charge, you would expect something that will last longer. The application process is pretty smooth, but the durability is an issue here.

Good Luck with your projects!

Applying polyurethane (low-VOC)

 Some of us do and the others don’t know that since the 1st of July, 2009 there are new polyurethane rules. Basically, you cannot buy high VOC polyurethane in gallons, or five gallon cans. The only way to purchase it is if you will buy the poly in quarts(kinda stupid, isn’t it?).

“So what?”-some of you will ask-“I don’t even know what the hell is high VOC poly anyway”

For those of you, who doesn’t know that: high VOC polyurethane, is the oil-based type, that have been used by everybody to coat the floor for decades.Yes, it does smell, but at least you were able to apply it seamlessly and it dried within the reasonable time (overnight).

What we have now, that looks the same as the old stuff, is low VOC poly, which is a total disaster.It leaves the brush marks and dries for days, or in some cases- weeks. If you don’t want to end up with the project that will need to be done all over again, you should avoid the low VOC polyurethane.

Remeber: the good stuff is in quarts now. If you want an oil based poly on your floors, buy that.Your other option is water-based, which a lot of people started to use now for their floor refinishing projects.

Avoid buying oil-based poly in gallons, and don’t forget to ask the assosiate in the store what kind of stuff is it.

In case you bought low_VOC polyurethane, here are some things that you should know.

1.You only need 2 coats to finish this project (altough these coats will dry forever).

2.This poly is thick and dries very quick on the surface, so avoid applying it in the large areas: do a little bit at a time.

3. The best way to apply it is with the applicator: lambs wool or Padco Nyfloam Coater Refill (you will never find this type in the Home Depot or Lowe’s, so look somewhere else) are the best. That way you won’t leave the brushmarks.

4.Before you will move the furniture back in the room, make sure the floor is totally dry: with low VOC poly it might look dry, but when you will rub your finger on the floor, you’ll feel how gummy the poly is.If this happens- wait longer.

5.You actually can apply high VOC poly over the low VOC- nothing bad is going to happen: trust me, we tried it.

Now about the brands: there is no such a thing as a good low-VOC poly: it’s all terrible, so if you decided to buy some, choose any brand and good luck with application.

If you happen to have any questions about this type of poly, feel free to contact us.

Applying polyurethane (water-based)

“How many coats of poly should I put on my floor?” I’ve heard this question quite a few times, so let’s talk about it.

There are three types of polyurethane available if you decided to coat your floors: water-based, oil-based and introducing (unfortunately)- low VOC oil-based poly.Oh, almost forgot: there is one more type of poly available.It’s not that popular, since it’s more expensive( around $120 a gallon) and tough to get(I only know 2 places in Southern New England that sell it), but yet one of the most durable and long lasting types of poly: moisture cure. Let’s take a quick look at all of them.

 Water-based poly. Regular amount of coats – 4.When we apply it, we normally put down a coat of Dual purpose Lenmar sealer to give it an amber look and apply 3 coats of poly on top of that.We do this because water-based poly is not that thick, so we need to do a little build up for it to look solid.I have to mention, thought, that you can actually get away with a coat of sealer and 2 coats of good water-based polyurethane if you’re working in the rooms that don’t get heavy amount of traffic, such as bedrooms. The brand that I personally like the most is Eukula.In my earlier post I mentioned that you can see the difference between oil- and water-based poly because of it’s look(water-based doesn’t have as rich amber look as oil-based poly has), well with this polyurethane it’s almost impossible to tell the difference. It comes in one- or two component finishes. They say, that two component finish is harder ( component1: actual poly, component 2: hardener), but one component finish is hard as hell too. I would recommend to use it in residential projects and use a two component in commercial ones. The main advantage of Eukula is that you can add up to 12 Oz. of water (believe it or not) into it without having to  worry about the quality of the finish.  This makes it dry a little bit slower , giving you time to come back and fix whatever you need, not to mention that you won’t have any ugly looking brush marks that normally there when you work with water-based polyurethane. Eukula is the ONLY brand that allows you to add water.

Now the price. Comparing to other brands, such as Bona, or Duraseal, one component Eukula cost the same or even less. Averge price for it is about $45 a gallon. In comparison: good type of Duraseal( which is not as good as Eukula anyway) cost about the same, and Bona(the 2nd best after Eukula in my opinion) cost even more- around $80 a gallon.Two component Eukula cost is around $90 a gallon.

Next time we’ll take a closer look at oil-based poly.

P.S. If you have any suggestions for topics to disscuss, please feel free to contact us.

Staining the floor

Lets talk about the staining of your floors using the most popular oil-based stain.
First and foremost: sand the floor down to the wood! You do not want to apply the stain over the old finish: it will take forever to dry and won’t stick to the floor.You will end up having the floor with what I’d like to call “a marker effect”: try to make a mark with the  magic marker and take it off-comes off very easy!
The bottom line is: if you won’t sand the old finish off completely, you’ll end up making more mess than you used to have before the start of the project.
Next, you’ll need to pick up the color of the stain for your floors: I wouldn’t use the brochures, that they have at the hardware stores,
but buy a couple of sample cans of stain and apply it at home:that way you will know how the stain is going to look like on YOUR floor.
Also, I have to mention, that it’s not a good idea to buy the stain in a 1 gallon cans anymore, because it is a low VOC stain: it is very hard to apply, and it dries up way too quickly, leaving you with uneven, ugly looking finish.If you want to use the oil-based stain, get it in quarts.
Ok, now the floor is sanded and the stain color is picked: what’s next?
I’ll try as much as I can to avoid talking about the application process(you can read all about it on the back of the can), but I have to say a couple of things about the prep work:
1. Before application, I would tape all the baseboards.That way I would avoid messing them up with the stain.The best type to use is blue or green Scotch masking tape: do not buy the cheap white one, because this kind will pull all the paint off the baseboard.
2. Heavy coat, hard wood (such as oak or maple) and high humidity can increase the drying time. In some cases I saw the stain being wet for a week.
The worst time for a staining job is July, August and September due to the highest level of humidity during these months(that of course if you leave near water).
If you have more than one room to stain, consider calling a flooring company: believe me, you will save yourself a lot of time, money and effort.Good luck!

Polyurethane

As we all know, there are two types of polyurethane: water-based and oil-based.Both have their own pro’s and con’s.Let’s take a little closer look at both of them.

1.Oil-based polyurethane.The most popular so far( of course, with the new law that makes it more expensive and harder to get, things are going to change quickly).Durable, two coats of it on top of a coat of sealer, is normally more than enough.Gives an impression of thick buildup(it’s just an impression, though.In reality it’s much thinner than you think, which doesn’t make it bad in any way), and that deep amber look that everybody love.Most of the floor companies and the homeowners prefer to use this type of poly, because it is also very easy to apply.

Now here is something every homeowner should know.There are two types of oil-based poly: high VOC(Volatile Organic Compounds), which is affected by the new law and the low VOC, which is not affected.All the information above is about high VOC poly, which you, dear homeowner, cannot get anymore in 1 or 5 gallon containers.The only way to buy high VOC poly is to get it in quarts.So next time you’re going to the hardware store, make sure, you are buying your poly that way, unless you want all sorts of trouble, that low VOC poly gives you: heavy brush marks, very fast drying time on the surface, while you’re applying it, but very slow actual drying time(sometimes it’s still like a gum even after two days of wait)- all the good stuff.

Ok, where were we? Oh, yes, oil-based poly.Here are some minuses: dries much longer than water-based, smells a lot(and I mean it) and not safe for the environment, which, I know very important for more and more people day by day.

2.Now let’s talk water. This is very durable polyurethane.With 1 coat of sealer and three coats of water-based poly your floor is going to be much harder, than with oil-based.Dries very quickly: in half an hour after you applied the first coat, you can go ahead and put another one.You can literary finish the whole flooring project in one day, where if you would use the oil-based, it could take you 2-3 days.

By applying it without using a sealer, your floor is going to look milky, although, over the years it will yellow up a little.I would recommend to use a sealer first(Lenmar quick-dry sealer is perfect for that purpose): that will give your floors an amber look, not as rich as you would get with an oil-based finish, of course. This, the price of it(on average twice higher then the price for the oil-based poly) and a little bit complicated application process, are  actually the main minuses.Otherwise it’s great.