Waterlox vs.?

oruborisMay 10, 2008

One of the flooring options I'm considering is a [very!] rustic engineered hickory. It's available unfinished [company is 'Virgina Vintage'], so I could do a 'refreshable' oil finish, and I'm hoping the combination of hard hickory wood, rustic surface, and oil finish would make it a livable floor for my dogs and me, and it is approved for use over radiant.

I'm wondering what it is about waterlox that makes it such a favorite-- how does it differ from tung oil?

Are there any similar products I should be considering?

Anyone out there with a rustic hickory, oil finish, and dogs?

Have to mention that the salesman freaked me out a little: this is a glue together, and he was saying a regular carpenter's glue has far too much water, could cause problems, have to use a special low moisture glue. Makes me wonder how the floor would hold up to things like an undiscovered pet accident...

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I eagerly follow your floor decision postings - you and I seem to be going through the same anguish! I want wood but the reality of pets and wood just won't go away!

I called the Waterlox company, technical support I believe was what I was transferred to. The gentleman I talked to was just great - very chatty, glad to answer any questions. I complemented the Waterlox website and he said he was the author of most of the information on the website, so he is the expert. As I began my question about Waterlox and dogs, he interrupted me and asked, "Do they have feet?" LOL

We have Bruce prefinished wood floors in our house now. I have one Retriever who is the sloppiest drinker ever - he always slops water on the floor all around the bowl. There is the smallest evidence of this water if I look carefully. I don't think hardwood floors are nearly as sensitive to small amounts of water as some think.

Give Waterlox a call and good luck with your decision!

    Bookmark   May 13, 2008 at 7:49AM
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We used Land Ark oil system. It is a combo of Pure Tung Oil, Pure linseed oil and pine resin. (Food safe) All natural and certainly repairable.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 8:48AM
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eandhl, could you tell me more about Land Ark finish? how's its odor? can you post pictures? thanks

    Bookmark   May 18, 2008 at 11:15PM
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We started owner-building in 2006, moved into the house last fall, and are finishing up the remaining punchlist items as we live there. One of the big items I am in the process of finishing up is the installation of unfinished wide plank white pine and staining and finishing with Waterlox. We will have this flooring everywhere but the bathrooms and utility room. My experience with Waterlox so far has been great. I have completely finished two upstairs rooms and will finish 2 more and a closet by this weekend. I just work on it a couple of hours a night after work. I used 2 coats of Waterlox sealer followed by 2 coats of Waterlox satin. It was my first time to finish floors, although I have finished furniture with plain tung oil before. As for floors, I can't imagine there being an easier way to finish a floor. I mixed an oil-based stain (1:4 ratio stain to Waterlox, mixed from two colors of Minwax)with the first coat of sealer. This method, recommended by Waterlox, resulted in an even coloring of the wood without blotching the soft pine. No stain was added to the other coats. No sanding was required in between coats, just a light going-over with a residue-free micro fiber dust mop. Following the same techniques for applying the finish as shown on Waterlox's website, I found the process relatively stress free, after I learned to not try to bite off too big of an area in one night. I found that I can put down about 400 sf of finish per night without working too hard. So, I can completely finish two normal size bedrooms with four coats of Waterlox in four days (1 coat per day). After the last coat they advise to stay off the floor except for sock feet for 7 days, at which time the floor can be used normally. They recommended 24 hours between coats, I believe.

Ventilation is necessary - I put a window fan in the room I am working in exausting out, and put a window fan in a nearby room pulling fresh air in. Fresh air flows in the door, across the room, and out the window. Do not use a ceiling fan because it can cause uneven drying. After finishing a coat I leave the fans running for four hours until the floor is tack-free and then I tiptoe into the room with booties on to remove the fans and close the windows. A mask designed for solvents is recommended while applying the finish due to the mineral spirits in the Waterlox - the one I got at HD works well - I can barely smell the mineral spirits while applying the finish with it on.

The best advice I can give with the Waterlox is don't try to correct mistakes as you go. Just lay down a good heavy coat of oil (500 sf per gallon) with a lambswool applicator and let it cure. It will soak in and self-level and most "mistakes" will disappear during the process. The only rookie mistake I made was when I first started I went back and tried to touch-up a spot I thought was not covered evenly while applying one of my first coats. The over worked spot showed up after the coat cured. I should have left it alone and fixed it after it dried if it still needed it. I was still able to fix the spot later. All I had to do was lightly sand the spot, wipe on a little Waterlox and buff it with a clean rag, and then after the next coat the repaired spot disappeared.

I will be posting some pics when I get a chance.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2008 at 2:22PM
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Thanks, cottonland, your info is very helpful. I am not sure what we will do yet. I do have a gallon of Waterlox and will try it on a coffee table I am refinishing. Can you tell me what type of a respirator you've used? Thanks.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2008 at 8:04PM
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I am at work now and can't remember the name, but it was the only kind they sold at HD that had the replaceble cloth/fabric filters that fit in two locations on both sides of the face. It was around $25 -$30 I think. When you put down a whole floor of Waterlox in room the fumes are strong for a couple of hours as the layer cures. With the respirator, I hardly noticed any smell. As it cures, and you continue ventilating the room, the fumes subside. I am using the original sealer and satin finish. However, Waterlox also makes a low-odor VOC compliant version of these products, but they are more expensive. If you shop around online you can find a better price than on Waterlox's website. I got mine from www.publiclumber.com. But I just looked and I saw the original versions there but not the VOC compliant versions. If I had to do it over again I might consider the VOC compliant versions, however, ventilation is still necessary for fresh air to promote curing and using a respirator was not a big deal.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2008 at 1:13PM
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OK. I think I saw that respirator @ Home Depot but wasn't sure if it worked OK. I'll be getting it. Thanks for the site too. I have a gallon of low-VOC Waterlox but read in other posts that it actually smells worse that regular Waterlox. Go figure. So I may just buy regular since odor is my main concern with Waterlox. We'll be starting in June and never refinished floors before. So I am keeping my fingers crossed that all will go well and look fine. Thank you so much for your help!

    Bookmark   May 20, 2008 at 5:20PM
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the low VOC smells worse, but the odor is not a damaging odor like the regular waterlox. The smell of regular waterlox can damage brain cells, like sniffing paint. If you get the regular one, make sure the respirator you get accepts different filtering canisters and get one that is rated to filter out chemical odors. Be sure to replace the filtering canisters as needed.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 1:38PM
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Cross-ventilation is also important, not only to exhaust fumes, but also to promote curing. Do not use a ceiling fan - that can cause uneven drying. The way I cross-ventilated worked really well and also prevented fumes from migrating to other parts of the house. I put a window fan in the room I was working in exhausting bad air *out* and I put another window fan in an adjacent area (not the same room) pulling fresh air *in* and made sure only the doors between the two fans were open and others were closed. This sets up an air flow of fresh air coming into the room which then carries the fumes out the window. The air flow prevents fumes from migrating "upstream" out the door into the rest of the house. With a proper respirator and adequate cross ventilation the fumes have not been a problem. End result: the floors look great!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2008 at 12:48PM
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I ran across this discussion, I don't want to make this a commercial, but I thought I'd jump and clarify/confirm a couple of points.
. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are found in everything from paints and coatings to underarm deodorant. Recently, some states have enacted new laws concerning limits on volatile organic compounds (VOC) for the Architectural and Industrial Maintenance (AIM) industry. These VOC restrictions relate only to environmental (air quality) concerns, by the EPA, NOT occupational safety. Our low VOC products are simply made with a different petroleum based mineral spirit, and carry the same safety considerations, as our original formula products and should be used in a well ventilated area, using a respirator. Use a respirator equipped with an "S" type cartridge, rated for organic vapor and acid, and keep cross ventilation in the room, both for safety and correct finish curing.

Yes, the smell from these products are a little stronger then our "original formula" products. Learn more about VOCs on our web site https://www.waterlox.com/site/457/default.aspx

and find complete finishing instructions in our "Floor Finishing Guide" https://www.waterlox.com/site/478/default.aspx

David Zarzour
Waterlox Coatings Corp

Here is a link that might be useful: Waterlox Coatings Corp

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 10:35AM
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Thanks David and everyone. I ordered 4 more gallons of Waterlox. We have about 1100 ft of oak floors to refinish. My DH is sanding right now. We are using U-sand and it's taken him all day to just get 2 rooms sanded. Sigh ... but it's still much cheaper than hiring a pro. Plus I know that the final results will be much better than what we had before ... even if they are not perfect. Can't wait to be done and to enjoy our renewed floors. We did buy a respirator to be used with Waterlox. A million thanks for all the help.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 8:15PM
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cottonland, what two color of Minwax did you use? I'm hoping to put pine plank in our family room, and am looking for stain suggestions. Any chance you could post a picture? thanks

    Bookmark   June 1, 2008 at 10:50AM
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I have a few pics at http://community.webshots.com/user/coltlake, however, that site may be down. I haven't been able to get to it from work the last few days. If you can't get to that site, I will post a few pics here in the next day or so.

I used a 1:4 ratio of Minwax oil based stain to Waterlox Original Sealer (the max they recommend) for the first coat of Waterlox. The stain was a mix of two colors: 1 part Minwax Dark Walnut and 6 parts Minxwax Red Chestnut. We wanted a dark brown/red color. The Red Chestnut was too red and the Dark Walnut had no red at all. The mix was very close to what we wanted. We tried other colors like the Red Mahogony, but it had a purplish tint to it. After figuring out how many cans of each color we would need we opened the cans, mixed the stain in a bucket at the 1:6 ratio and then poured the mixed stain back into the original cans for storage until use.

I would recommend getting several pieces of scrap flooring and trying the stain/Waterlox mix out to see what the colors look like. Remember, just apply it to the samples with a lambs wool applicator in one stroke (do not scrub it on) and let it cure - do not wipe it off. If you put enough on it will be wet looking with oil sitting on the surface of the wood. That is how you apply it to the actual floor. As it cures it will self-level and soak into the wood. Do not wipe off the excess oil - what doesn't soak in will harden. You can experiment with adding some of the other Minwax colors to your taste.

When applying the stain/sealer mix to the floor be sure to take your time (too fast causes bubbles to form), get good coverage, overlap each adjacent strip, and keep the edges wet (don't stop working until the whole floor is finished). If you absolutely need to find a stopping point because the room is too large to completey cover in one day, you can cut in along the edge of the boards with a brush to finish a section and then cut in with a brush along the adjacent boards to start the next area. This works real well for later coats with plain Waterlox, but you still have to be careful with the first coat with stain that the brush strokes are uniform. If possible, save the larger areas for days when you have time to apply the first coat completely across the room. Because our flooring extends from one room into the next with no threshold, we had no natural stopping points between rooms, so we had to use the brush technique to stop along edges of boards near the doorway.

After the first coat, inspect the floor for edges or spots that the stain missed. Wipe on a little stain/sealer mix, let it set for a minute, and then wipe it off and buff it. If you have gaps between the boards that the stain did not get down into, dip a brush into the the stain/sealer mix and work it into the gap and then wipe off the excess from the surface of the boards. You won't have to do this for the subsequent coats.

After the second coat of sealer, the Waterlox should start to build up a layer and start to have little more uniform sheen. However, there may be spots, especially around knots in soft wood such as pine, where the Waterlox is still soaking in and does not have as much sheen as surrounding areas. I took some Waterlox and spot treated these areas and buffed it out with a rag so it could "catch up" with the rest of the floor. The subsequent 3rd and 4th coats resulted in an even sheen, even on the soft pine. Waterlox does not build up like polyurethane, though, so don't expect that knots will be have a perfectly even sheen. You will still be able to see them when you look across the floor towards a window, but it will look normal.

Mixing the stain with the Waterlox, even at the maximum ratio recommended, resulted in a satisfactorily uniform staining of the white pine floors and saved a lot of effort compared to staining the floors in a separate step. Color uniformity was not perfect, but very satisfactory. It is hard to tell what color variations are due to the method of stain application or due to natural color variations in the wood itself. With lighter stains/ratios or harder woods the results should be even better.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 12:54PM
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For what it is worth, I just wanted to add some affirmation to the previous posts. Waterlox vs anything means Waterlox usually wins.

We use it not only for floors, but virtualy all interior wood components on our new work, and restoration projects (wood walls and wainscoting, countertops, doors and trim, and toungue/groove ceilings. We love the compliments we get on the finish, and what it does to accentuate our work.

Cottonland has some great tips re adding stain to Waterlox. Excellent post. Zar stain works well also, and has some different color tones than Minwax.

For our jobs, we always get great support when we need it from the guys at Waterlox, and we get great pricing and service from the guys at PaintSource.net. They have an inexpensive respirator available as well, which you definitely want to use.

Here is a link that might be useful: Waterlox source

    Bookmark   June 19, 2008 at 9:16AM
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Here is a blog with a lot of general Waterlox information from the guys at PaintSource.

Here is a link that might be useful: Waterlox Blog

    Bookmark   February 7, 2009 at 1:22PM
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I wanted to post a follow up now that I have use waterlox on my quartersawn white oak floors. It is gorgeous!! Yeah, it smells bad. Not a big deal...I bought a $25 paint fume respirator at lowes and used it for all three applications and did not smell a thing. The finish is just amazing. It is very easy for a DIY person. I had one small issue that wsa fixable, thanks to the guy at paintsource (Doug I think??). I had a dark hallway and did not realize I puddled up some waterlox in the corner. I found it the next day. It was dry in the middle but thick and cracked around the edges. It looked so bad!! But Doug walked me through fixing it and now you can't tell that there was ever a problem. this puddling is really easy to avoid. Just don't start a loaded applicator next to a wall where you can't pull the excess back out. Start in a more visible area and push the waterlox into the walls and corners. It worked great for me!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2009 at 8:49AM
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