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Commercial Flooring News

Why The Wear

Alec Stacey, Bona’s technical manager, explains the problem of premature wear in flooring:
AS A manufacturer of floor finishes, we occasionally get called to visit a site where there is the perception of premature wear. However, on inspection the source of the problem invariably relates to the initial treatment specified for the floor and the level of maintenance it receives.
Often the specification does not reflect the use of the floor such as the type and level of foot traffic. A single coat of a poor quality product on a staircase in a busy shop will not last. With floor seals, a suitable ‘build’ on the timber surface must be produced to tolerate the expected level of use.
This can be influenced by the coverage rate of the product used. If a product has a high coverage rate a considerably thinner ‘build’ results from each application. It may seem like an advantage when using such a product that it dries very quickly.
However, to achieve the same level of protection as with a product applied more generously, a greater number of applications must be made. Time should also be allowed for the curing of any floor seal before receiving full heavy use. If a newly treated surface is trafficked too soon after application performance will be compromised.
Sometimes the sanding process can affect the durability of the treated surface. If the final sanding is made with abrasives which are too coarse, or grades of abrasive are omitted from the sanding sequence, an enhanced texture can result.
When this happens in high traffic environments, such as pubs, shops, and restaurants, sealed floors will wear back to bare wood rapidly. The rough surface effectively reduces the thickness of the coating at the ‘peaks’ of the texture.
These obviously begin to show signs of wear first, and once bare timber is exposed, the floor is then free to take up moisture, either from spillages or maintenance, and rapid deterioration results.
The most important aspect of maintenance for lacquered timber floors is to minimise the damage inflicted on the floor seal by abrasive particles. Daily dry cleaning is required; effective matting must also be installed at entry points. In a pub we were asked to visit, a large sealed oak floor had worn back to bare timber within a matter of weeks.
The worn patches extended to the bar. The entrance matting installed was coir (coconut fibre) 75cm wide. In this environment the mat quickly becomes wet and the fibres become compacted.
Dirt and abrasive particles can then no longer drop through the mat but remain on the surface where they can easily be trafficked onto the floor seal.
The abrasive effect the mixture of grit and water is considerable – like wet and dry sandpaper! The mat was also far too small!
We see similar problems in domestic situations, especially kitchens, which often have a back door leading to a garden or gravel drive. When the customer spends a lot on having the floor treated, but settles for a small, poor quality mat, the consequences are obvious.

This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal website. You can find them at www.contractflooringjournal.co.uk.