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Floor Finish FAQ's

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What is the best way to clean and maintain my floor?

A concentrated cleaner can be mixed with water then applied by slightly dampening a cloth or mop. It is important to let the cleaner and not the water do the work. Using too much water on a varnish, wax or oil will take a little of your finish off each time it is used which in turn means your floor will have a shorter life. Visit our floor cleaners page to see our range of easy to use products.

Can wood oils be applied over a varnished floor?

Unfortunately not. Wood oils work by penetrating in to the surface grain of the timber and hardening in the surface of the wood. Wood that has been varnished will prevent this from happening and will likely result in a sticky mess on top of the varnish. Varnished floors must be sanded back to bare wood before a wood oil can be applied.

Which is the most durable floor finish?

A varnish is the most hard-wearing finish to use for wood flooring. There are 2-part varnishes available which can be mixed with a hardener prior to application, allowing the two to dry together, thereby creating a much tougher and more durable surface finish.

Can I apply a varnish to my flooring without sanding it back to bare wood?

If your wood flooring has been previously varnished, carry out a test area to ensure adhesion and compatibility and then lightly sand to create a key. If the wood floor has been previously oiled, waxed or polished, then the product would need to be completely removed by sanding back to bare wood or using a suitable wood stripper.

How can I remove scratches from wood floors?

The ability to repair scratches on wood floors largely depends on the type of finish the floor has and how deep the scratches are. Minor scratches on oiled floors can usually be repaired with ease. Vacuum the floor first to remove all traces of dust and dirt. Clean the affected area with a dedicated Ph balanced wood floor cleaner. Apply a thin coat of floor oil, preferably the same brand and sheen as the one already applied, and work into the surface of the wood. This will restore the look of the affected area.

The appearance of minor scratches and dull patches on varnished floors can be improved by treating the floor with a varnish maintenance product such as Bona Freshen Up. This product cannot be used on varnishes floors that have then been waxed or polished, unless all the wax and polish is removed first. For varnished floors that have been waxed and polished, we recommend Bona Polish.

Minor scratches on waxed floors can be repaired in much the same way as oiled floors. Clean the affected area first then apply fresh wax, preferably the same brand and type as that already used on the floor. This will restore the damaged area and will blend in with the rest of the floor.

I've installed an engineered wood floor but don't know if it needs finishing as it looks dull. It's colour is natural oak effect. What should I use to finish it, or if not to just clean it but leave a shine?

You may be able to find out from the supplier if the wood is already treated and it will certainly help to know as it can impact on what can be advised.

If you are not able to find this out however, then there are a couple of tests that may help determine if there is any current finish. So an oil test, somewhere inconspicuous, leave a small drop of oil on the surface of the wood and leave for 30 minutes to an hour and see how it reacts.

If the oil remains totally unmoved then you are likely to have a varnished finish. If the oil soaks in or moves then this will indicate that either there is oil currently on the floor or if it soaks in totally, that there is nothing on there at all. This is not an exact science but may give some indication of the current finish.

To test for a wax finish simply scratch a nail over the surface and see if any comes away or it marks easily.

I have a solid Oak plank floor. The varnish finish was recently damaged by decorators. Can the varnish be repaired?

Determining if a varnished floor can be repaired can depend on the type of varnish and the extent of the damage. Minor surface scratches and scuffs might be repairable or made less noticeable by cleaning the floor first and using a polyurethane maintenance product such as Bona Freshen Up or Bona Polish. These products in-fill minor scuffs and scratches and apply a thin maintenance goat of polyurethan varnish over the surface. These products maynot however be compatible with all types of varnish so a test area is strongly recommended to test adhesion and effectivness.

If the damage is more extensive, a skilled, professional floor finisher may be able to repair or lessen the impact of the damage. The safest way to deal with a damaged, varnish floor is to sand it back to bare wood and use a highly durable or commercial grade floor varnish.

I have a Mahogany Parquet woodblock floor, it was originally oiled but is darker where a rug has been and lighter where it receives most foot traffic. How can I restore the finish?

The dark area where the rug has been is likely due to the floor being protected from sunlight resulting in less bleaching of the wood from the sun's rays. The lighter areas could also be due to the high foot traffic wearing away the original finish of the uncovered flooring area. It's possible that the covered area will always remain darker than the rest unless the whole floor is sanded. If a rug of the same size or bigger is being put back, then this won't be an issue.

Re-oiling the floor should restore the overall appearance and even out many of the colour differences. As the floor is made of Mahogany, our recommendation would be to use Osmo Wood Wax Finish Extra Thin (1101). This oil is very thin and will be able to penetrate in to the wood grain whereas other types of wood oil may not be able to penetrate as well.

Apply the oil thinly working it in to the surface of the wood blocks. Where possible, try to avoid too much of the oil running down between the wood blocks as this may affect the glue or bitumen used to stick the parquet down.

What is the best way to apply finishes to a floor?

We've got a great range of floor applicators that will save on time, money and back ache!.

Should I use a wax or an oil on Pine bathroom floorboards?

Wood oils or more specifically 'hard wax oils' are more durable and water resistant than waxes. Waxes are softer, less durable and are easily stained and marked when in contact with water. It's worth mentioning that although new or freshly sanded pine can look pale in colour, when a clear oil or varnish is applied it tends to draw out the natural orange or yellow of the wood. A way to test this is to wipe over a section of bare wood board with a damp cloth to get an indication of how it will look once finished. To better retain the natural, untreated look of the pine, we recommend using either Fiddes Hard Wax Oil Natural or Osmo Polyx Oil Raw (3044).

How can I find out what type of finish is on my floor?

This can be tricky on appearance alone as varnishes used to traditionally be high-gloss whereas now, varnishes are available in satin, matt and ultra matt making them look more like an oil or wax finish. This said, and although not an exact science, there are ways to establish what type of finish a floor has.

Always carry out these tests in an inconspicuous area such as behind a door or on the floor under a piece of furniture, as there is potential for the testing to leave a small mark or stain.

Scrape test

Using the edge of a coin or finger nail gently scrape the surface of the floor. If the floor has a wax or polish finish the scraping will remove some of the wax or polish and it will be visible on the coin or nail.

Oil test

Apply a small drop of cooking oil such as Olive Oil to the floor and leave for 30 mins to an hour. If the oil partially or fully soaks in to the floor then this is an indication that the floor has been oiled. If the oil droplet remains on the surface, then it is likely to be a varnished floor.

Can I apply Bona Mega Varnish over elm and pine floorborads previously treated with Bona Mega Natural? Don't like the 'unfinished' natural look (doh!!) and want a high sheen finish.

If it has been over 24 hour since the last coat then a light key over the surface to aid grip is advised. Once lightly sanded, hoover and wipe over with a damp cloth to remove sanding dust and then you are able to apply Bona Mega over the top. Always do a test area first to ensure you like the finish before starting the main project.

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Disclaimer: Whilst every attempt has been made to provide product information that is as accurate as possible, it's important to clarify that trees and the wood that they produce can be affected by many factors. For example, the same species of tree grown in the same wood, even in close proximity, will be affected by age along with the amount of sunlight and water they receive. Other naturally occurring biological and environmental factors will also influence the density and grain of the wood as well as the moisture and oil content of the timber. No two trees are the same, meaning each piece of wood has the potential to look and react differently to the same wood finish. For example, product adhesion, colour variations, absorption rates and sheen levels. It is for this reason that we always strongly recommend carrying out test areas before starting any project