Advice, please, on finish for hardwood floor

sail_awayJune 27, 2012

We are having white oak installed in our living room/dining room, to match our existing hardwood in the foyer. The old floor will be sanded down and old and new will be finished together. We met with the flooring guy today and he strongly asserted that the best finish is the Glitsa oil finish.

I've been reading about Glitsa and I'm impressed with the good reviews it gets for durability; however, I'm very concerned about the toxic fumes. Some sites state that it will continue to off-gas formaldehyde for as much as 6 months after installation. I have severe asthma, aggravated by many chemicals/fragrances. We're prepared to leave for a couple days, but I'm worried about how much it will continue to smell and aggravate our breathing.

I've also read that it takes quite a bit of time to cure completely, and I worry about damaging the floor the first few weeks. But mostly my concern is about the effect on my breathing.

What advice do you guys have to offer? We need a site-finished hardwood, as we already have some hardwood in the house that needs to be refinished and we want it all to match. I'd prefer a matte or satin finish, nothing too glossy. The one thing I don't like about oak is the yellow cast it will often develop, so a finish that wouldn't be as likely to cause or quicken the development of the yellow cast would be nice. And, of course, we'd like good durability. Is there a water-based, or at least less toxic, finish that you'd recomend?

We just let the floor guy know we'd like to go ahead, so we'll have to start confirming the finish soon. Right now he thinks we're going ahead with the Glitsa, but I'm worried about that now.

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Since posting this early this morning, I have been in touch with the flooring guy, and he suggested we consider a 2-component Waterborne finish (either Bona Traffic or Glitsa Maxx). He said that either of these would be almost as durable as the oil/solvent finish. (I think one reason he suggested the oil finish was because the 2-component finishes are more expensive and we are trying to do this on budget.) He also said that he used the Glitsa Maxx on his own floor, which seems like a pretty good recommendation to me.

I've been reading a lot of posts on this forum, and it seems that many people have used this type of finish and like it. Any comments? Likes/dislikes?

I think it would be worth the extra money for the sake of our health, but I'd love to hear some personal experiences of those who have these finishes on their floors and how they're holding up.

Also, does anyone know if, using the 2-component sealer, we could let our cats stay in our finished basement while it was being applied? (It is being applied to floors on the first floor.) I'm having a hard time finding a local motel where we can bring both our cats when we leave the house. I'd also prefer not to have to pack them up, but, of course, their health is a primary concern.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 5:53PM
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Bona Traffic in my opinion is a good product if you plan on having 50 people over on a nightly basis. If not. Its not worth the extra money. Glista makes a water base called Infinity 2. Its great. I use it on every floor i do. Its cheaper than traffic and is plenty durable. Full cure time 14 days. Low VOC. its everything your looking for.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 6:23PM
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Thanks, Greg. I don't have 50 people every night, but I do have about 20-25 once a week. :)

The Glista sounds good to me. Since it is low VOC, do you think we could stay in the basement while it is being applied, or is it better to stay away during the actual application time?

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 1:46AM
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Absolutely. Heck you could stand over the floor a huff it and you couldnt smell it. ( please dont huff it :) )

The nice thing about the Infinity 2 is that it dries very fast. So during any of the coats your only going to be unable to access the floor for about 4-6 hours depending on air flow and temp inside your home.

I truely believe that your standard water based urethane like the Glista product i meantioned will hold up just fine given your not tracking in rocks or sand or dirt on your shoes.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 7:15PM
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Thanks, Greg, for responding again. That's a relief, not only because I would prefer not to leave the house, but because it was going to be very difficult to go somewhere else with two cats. Even if we decide to vacate for one night, we can leave the cats in the basement.

If you don't mind answering one last question, I'd appreciate it. How long does it take to fully cure with the 2-component water based finish? That is, when is it okay to move back furniture, put down rugs, let the 20-30 people back in for their weekly visits? We can wait to put furniture back for a while, if it would help the floor to fully cure without incident.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 8:50PM
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When you speak of the 2 componet finish i think of a finish that has a hardner additive. Your basic Glista Infinity 2 does not have that. Its not necessary to have. But its something you can add. Its more money. But you can add that hardner to any water based urethane. (it'll still be cheaper than Bona Traffic and have the same results)

Anyways. This is what i always tell my customers.
And this is what Glista recomends.

After 6 hours you can walk on it.
After the last coat has dried. Give it at least 24 hrs before moving furniture.
ALWAYS PICK UP furniture. NEVER push,pull or drag on floor.

You can have your weekly group of people over 6 hrs after the last coat has been applied. Im not sure what your policy at your house is with having shoes on but i would definitely recommend NO SHOES SOCK ONLY for at least 2 weeks if not making it a permenant policy.

It takes 14 days to fully cure under ideal enviromental conditions. (roughly 70 degrees and a relative humidity of 30-40% or whatever you prefer to keep your house at. )

You can expect the cure time to increase if those conditions are not met.

This is optional but beware there are risks to what im going to say next.
Rugs and mats should be kept off for that 2 weeks until the floor is fully cured.

Now obviously thats not always an option for some people. The risks you take by laying rugs down early is they can leave an inprint into the finish and can cause early coloration of the finish. Now if you have a rug under a table for instance that your never going to move. Then who cares. Go ahead and lay it down. But like i said its up to you if you can wait.

I love hardwood flooring. I work with it 10 hrs a day and still find it enjoyable to come online here and help folks out whenever i can. So please feel free to email or post more questions.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 9:43PM
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Greg, Thanks for answering my questions so thoroughly. When I say 2-component waterborne finish I'm speaking of Glitsa Max, which is what the floor guy suggested.

I can easily wait the two weeks (or more) to put any rugs down. The reason I asked about rugs was because I know that the wait time we were given for the oil-based Swedish finish was longer for rugs than walking on the floor or putting in furniture, so I wanted to know what the longer time was for returning the area to its usual condition. We can easily wait several days to return the furniture, as well, so it sounds like it won't be too difficult.

Now my only concern is that a cat will throw up on the new floors during the curing time and mess up the finish. That's not something they do regularly, but it does happen from time to time.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 11:57PM
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Make the cats into rugs and leave them in the basement for a few weeks so the floor can cure properly. (Cat carpets don't puke on the floor)

    Bookmark   July 5, 2013 at 5:45PM
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here are some flooring ideas

Laminate Flooring
Bamboo Flooring
Hardwood Flooring
Linoleum Flooring
Ceramic Tiles
Marble Floors
Carpet & Rugs Vinyl Cork
Rubber Flooring

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 2:57PM
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Hi Sail Away,

we just had white oak floors installed with a Glitsa finish - not water based. The floor person left about 8 areas that did not receive a final coat of Glitsa. The painter says that these areas should be sanded down and re-finished withother coat or they will show a slight bump. Ther are areas that do look like they have a slight bump.

The floor person came over to fix two of the areas we found and those do look different. He insists that they are ok and will blend in with age.

I am trying to figure out the truth here as the floor cost a small fortune and I am beginning to get the feeling it was not very well done.

Would you insist that the board with the defect be sanded down and refinished?

Thank You

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 8:47PM
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Granted nobodys perfect and mistakes will happen but to have 8 seperate areas that didnt get finish is not something a pro does. Kudos to him coming back out to fix. But still worrysome.

Did these areas get a sealer and top coat but just missing the final coat? Or were they raw wood?

How long did the floor sit between the time the final coat was applied to him returning to fix those areas?

If it was just the last coat that needed to be applied you shouldnt see a color difference if these repairs happened within a month of the final coat being applied.

Do you have pics? Maybe start a new thread and maybe some of the other pros can chime in as well.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 10:58PM
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I wanted to chime in on this since I used matte Glitsa Maxx on my white oak floors about 4-5 years ago and have been thrilled with the finish. Its on my kitchen floor and I don't have a single scratch. I was told the chemistry of Glitsa Maxx is about the same as Bona Traffic so I would expect similar durability between the two.

My floor finisher initially put the Glitsa swedish finish on the floors and I hated it because it yellowed the floors. My finisher swore it wouldn't yellow much but it did. I wanted the natural medium brown color of the white oak to come through. I loved the look of the bare wood and wanted to keep that look with the finish applied. So he stripped it and used the Glitsa Maxx with a water-based sealer. Oil based sealers get used as a first coat to prevent the grain of the wood from raising but all oil finishes yellow with time. My water based finish over a water based sealer has held up really well over time and maintained the natural wood color.

I liked the matte finish, it has a bit of sheen but looks natural. On my floor there were a couple small spots with a glossier sheen for some reason. Maybe that was where the brush was picked up. Those spots fixed themselves over time and the floor became an even sheen.

Someone suggested the infinity 2 finish, that has an amber color to it which I didn't like. I won't use a 1-part water based finish and the pros that do use them do a disservice to their customers in my opinion. The expense is the labor not the finish. Why would you do a lower quality finish to save 5-10% on the total job? Its like painters that buy cheap paint, it makes no sense.

Last comments on the Glitsa swedish finish vs the water based finish. There was more depth to the swedish finish. Some people like that. On my living room floor that used wide rift sawn white oak planks the ray flecks in the wood are less prominent with the water finish. Thats what I wanted. If you want more depth an oil based sealer or the glitsa swedish finish might be your preference. The swedish finish would probably maintain its color better than any oil based. The stink of the swedish finish is truly terrible, i would leave for the week if you go that route.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 11:20PM
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If you are going to use a finish with toxic fumes that you should not inhale, PLEASE do not leave your cats in the basement. Toxic fumes are even more damaging to their little brain, lungs, liver and kidneys. Thank you.

@ jillagain - hope someone makes you into a rug. :-)

This post was edited by mdln on Mon, Jul 14, 14 at 2:27

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 2:26AM
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To the person that wants me made into a rug:-).

The cat rugs was a joke. Lighten up.and anyone who owns a pet should know, if it's not safe for you, it's not for your pets either.

PS. Floor sealer fumes are heVier than air, and basements don't ventilate well. That's that last place to leave a pet.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 3:16AM
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