Picking A Lacquer For Your Wood Floor
You want your wood floor to last for long, retaining its beauty and elegance all through. That luxurious look and feel that the wood floor comes with, the natural appeal that accentuates the indoor space, as well as attributes such as the insulating properties that reduce heat loss from the space lowering your energy bills, the noise and shock absorption, all through to the strong structure that promises to last for decades – it’s all on the line. As durable as wood inherently is, if it is not properly taken care of it will get deteriorated. The barrage of abuse that the wood floor receives on a daily basis can cause it to quickly become dull and dilapidated. Routine cleaning is vital, as well as the occasional refinishing when the existing coats of treatment get worn out. Let’s focus on the refinishing process, and what you should look into when selecting a formulation to work with:
Given that footfall will be one of the main causes of wear on the floor, it is imperative to get a lacquer that is capable of withstanding the level of traffic handled in the premises. On the other hand, for low traffic areas, you don’t have to go overboard with extreme protection for the floor. A home in which a new couple has moved into is exposed to far less levels of wear compared to one with a family that has kids and pets. On the other hand, a shopping mall handles way more traffic than a consultancy office. It’s all about finding a balance. Fortunately, there are different formulations that have been developed for the various kinds of situations. Let’s take a look at Bona waterborne lacquers for instance. They can be generally divided into three categories:
- Domestic traffic range
These are one-component lacquers that protect the floors in homes, like the Bona Novia which also resists the household chemicals that are typically used.
- Medium traffic rage
Here you have formulations like the Bona Mega line, which is a one-component product but whose functionality that is based on dispersion of plant-based oils gives it enhanced durability, with a level of performance that rivals two-component lacquers.
- Heavy traffic range
The Bona Traffic line comes in here. This includes the classic Bona Traffic that has made a name for itself since 1998, the Bona Traffic Natural, and Bona Traffic HD whose ultimate durability enables it to be used in environments like shopping malls, restaurants, retail stores, theatre stages, train stations and even airports.
This largely comes down to personal preference. After all, everyone has that final look that they would like their wood floor to have, in line with the rest of the décor of the premises. Fortunately, wood floor installations give you the opportunity to have the particular touch that meets their unique preferences. From the wide range of wood species that there are to install, the huge array of wood stains available, all through to the finishes with their different sheen levels. So, this will also be a consideration when you’re dealing with floor lacquers.
For instance, if you’re particularly keen on maintaining that look and feel of pure wood, there are lacquers that have been developed to enhance that effect. These are the likes of Bona Mega Natural and Bona Traffic Natural. With treatments like the Bona Traffic HD, you get flexibility, since you can apply your preferred wood stain underneath for you to get the aesthetic result that you desire. Speaking of which, another aesthetic benefit of relying on water-based lacquers is that they are non-yellowing. This is a common issue with oil-based polyurethanes since their interaction with solar radiation tends to cause a yellow hue to form over time. For the water based alternatives, it won’t be a cause for concern.
When it comes to gloss levels this will vary from one product to the next. For instance, with the Bona Traffic HD you get:
- Silk Matt – 40% sheen
- Matt – 20% sheen
- Extra Matt – 11% sheen
How the lacquer affects the indoor air quality
Did you know that there could be over 50 different VOCs in your house right now? These carbon-based chemicals are off-gassed by different items and substances, from laptops, mattresses and furnishings, and building materials, all through to the paint on the walls. The VOCs are contributors to the indoor air pollutants, and these can cause irritation to the respiratory system, and higher levels can be toxic. Prolonged exposure even increases one’s risks to chronic illnesses. That “new car smell” that people like is primarily caused by the VOCs. When shopping for mattresses, paint, or flooring products like the Bona Traffic HD, you’ll see a UL GREENGUARD Certification mark on the packaging. This is used to prove that the product in question has been certified for low chemical emissions.
Testing under GREENGUARD Certification is rigorous. The products are housed in polished stainless-steel compartments, which can range in size from those like small ovens to others as large as an entire room. Here, the temperature and humidity levels are strictly controlled. The products being tested are placed in these dynamic environmental chambers for varying lengths of time – ranging from days to weeks, and the amount of VOCs being off-gassed by them are observed. There can be over 200 different kinds of chemicals coming from the product. The whole certification process can take up to six months, largely determined by the complexity of the product. After a product obtains the GREENGUARD Certification, subsequent releases of the product are tested annually, to ensure that they remain up to standard, and there are over 13,000 items that are on UL’s Sustainable Product Guide.
Bona Traffic HD’s certification here is a notch higher, with the formulation having obtained the GREENGUARD Gold Certification. This standard is stricter, looking at the safety of products that are to be used in education environments and children’s rooms. Due to kids’ smaller sizes which makes them take in more air per body weight, they are at higher risk of being impacted by indoor air pollutants, thus the much lower emissions requirement with the GREENGUARD Gold.