Why do I need to seal my wooden floor, and what are my options?
It is important to protect the wooden surface with a sealer; this could be with a varnish, or qa modern hard wax oil. Varnishes are low maintenance, but would require sanding of the entire surface to do maintenance or repairs. Hard Wax oils require a bit more care, but are easier to repair and maintain, and does not normally require the floor to be sanded down to do a restoration of colour. Hard Wax Oils are also available in various colours so you could choose one of the many different colours available for the wooden floor. Further to the 2 options available in sealing the floor, you could have a stain applied prior to the application of the hard wax oil or varnish, to create a special colour or effect.
Staining a wooden floor can result in many desired effects:
- Enhancing the woods natural grain
- Highlighting the texture of the wood
- Adding a splash of exotic colour
- Create a complimentary or contrasting effect against the finishing product
Sealing the floor with an oil or varnish:
- Even though a stain might be applied to the floor for a desire effect, it still needs to be sealed to protect the wood.
- Hard-Wax Oils can add colour, highlighting the wood natural patina and keep its inherent beauty
- Refreshing or updating the look of your flooring to be in line with current trends
While staining wood is predominantly used as an option for aesthetic purposes, but offers little or no protection by themselves requiring the surface to still be sealed Hard Wax oils have great protective qualities and can add colour as well,
Repeated exposure to water and sunlight can damage wood. By using a Hard Wax Oil, you can protect the wood from being damaged or discoloured. Hard Wax Oil forms a barrier over your wood that assists in making the surface waterproof.
Hard Wax Oils penetrate the wood deeply or bond to the surface molecules of the wood, protecting and enhancing it and thus allowing your wood to be easily maintained. This is particularly effective on heavy-duty surfaces such as floors. An extra layer of protection can be added with a varnish if needed for commercial applications.
Take into account the colour of the stain, the species of your wood and how porous it is, as this will affect the final finish of your surface. Every type of wood accepts stain differently. It's very important you test your stain on a piece of scrap wood first, or on a less visible area, to ensure you will get the desired effect.
Stains can be mixed together to create the exact tone you require. You can lighten a stain by adding a natural finish stain. You can match an existing wood by mixing stains together. Just ensure that you mix enough to complete the entire job as mixing a second batch might result in the colours not matching exactly.
How to stain wooden floors
If the wood has been previously treated or painted this will need to be removed first right down to the natural raw wood. In order for the stain to penetrate the wood, and/or for the Hard Wax Oil to bond effectively to achieve the best result the wood has to be in a raw state, and be free of dust or dirt.
- Fill any cracks and joints using wood filler.
Pro Tip: A small amount of the stain/hard wax oil that will be used in the project can be mixed with the wood filler to achieve better results.
- Sand your wood according to the rules of the art. Always sand in the direction of the wood grain and not across it. At first use courser grit paper such as P80 and work your way to a finer grade such as a P120. The higher the number, the finer the grit. Clean away all the sanding dust with a vacuum, paint brush or tack cloth. Make sure at this stage that the surface is smooth and free from any dried glue, especially in the joint areas.
- Pro Tip: Use a wood cleaner to achieve the best results
Depending on the products to be used, you may want to apply a wood sealer or conditioner to help the stain soak in more evenly. This will help prevent your stain from looking blotchy. Allow the conditioner to sit for at least 15 mins.
- Apply the desired stain in the direction of the wood grain.
Cloths, sponges or paint brushes could be used depending on the product being applied, Take care to apply the stain evenly as it could create overlaps (darker/lighter areas). Some products require more than 1 application to achieve the desired result.
- Using the brush on method will flood the wood and allow the stain to soak in deeply. It is however very important to wipe off the excess stain. You will need to do this in the direction of the wood grain. Depending on your desired effect, the excess stain can be wiped off shortly after application creating a lighter softer colour, or left on longer creating a deeper colour effect. Using the brush on method will flood the wood and allow the stain to soak in deeply. It is however very important to wipe off the excess stain. Work the paintbrush in long even strokes gradually lifting your brush/roller towards the end as to avoid demarcation lines. This technique is called feathering.
- Respect the drying times as per the Technical Data Sheets (TDS) of the respective products before applying additional coats or applying the desired sealer.
Pro Tip: When working with wood stain wear rubber gloves.
Protect, colour and seal your wood:
Make sure to stir/shake the can thoroughly before application to bring the dyes and pigments up off of the bottom of the tin.
There are 2 possible methods you can use when applying a Hard Wax Oil on wood:
Hand Application – Use an application pad, cloth or rag for small areas and repairs
Machine Application – Use a Floor Buffing Machine
- Hand Application for Small areas/touch-ups: Use a hand applicator pad, cloth or rag. Dampen the pad/rag with the oil to be used, and apply in a circular motion applying pressure so the product can penetrate the grain of the wood. This method should leave very little excess and is more of a one step process. Depending on the product, you may leave the product to react/penetrate with the wood for 5-10 minutes, and remove surplus oils with a clean cloth/rag. Depending on the product used a 2nd or 3rd application might be required as per the TDS (Technical Data Sheet).
Pro Tip: An applicator pad will use less of the product.
- Machine Application for Large areas/restoration of floors: Use a floor buffing machine for the best results. Use a red buffing pad on the floor buffing machine to apply the Hard Wax Oil to the wooden floor. Work in small sections where you apply for 5-10 minutes, and then remove surplus oils with a white buffing pad. Work in sections like this until the entire area has been sealed.
Pro Tip: Buff the floor a second time with a clean white/beige pad to ensure the best results.