It does not matter if it is pre-finished or jobsite finished, as pictured here, there is no such thing as a flooring finish that is “bulletproof.” Still, with proper care and maintenance, a hardwood floor can last for generations to come. Photo courtesy of DuraSeal.

Our industry continues to prosper in technology, particularly as it relates to both prefinished and job site finished hardwood flooring. Today’s consumers are not only more discerning about their flooring purchases, but are also better educated as well. Hardwood flooring has emerged as a mainline frontrunner in advertisements. The presence of hardwood can be found on radio, television and obviously the Internet with the manufacturers’ own personalized website. Hardwood flooring, once considered a major player for disposable income, is now almost a necessity for any remodeling project where “new” flooring will be required. To each and everyone participating in our industry, “congratulations” is definitely in order for all your “orders.”

Marketing the value and the potential “asset” for today’s homeowner and the impact on the home’s future resale turns the “purchase transaction” into a “solid investment.” As with any investment, a periodical “review” will reveal the need for “attention” and also dictate the direction for “protection.”

Misleading the consumer on the hardwood flooring’s finish durability can, in time, eradicate all the value that hardwood flooring has to offer to the end user. There is no such thing as a finish that is bulletproof. Let’s compare the automotive industry. For over two decades, their paint was originally marketed with the protection of “clearcoat.” This process was invented to eliminate the need for polishing and waxing the paint on the automobile. If that were the case, polishes for car finishes would have become obsolete. And guess what – they’re not. Actually, there are so many products in the marketplace today for addressing the protection and scratch removal on these finishes; you can become overwhelmed making a selection. These finishes were excellent for protecting the paint from harmful sunrays, which could, in time, fade the paint.

The hardwood flooring industries finishes are very similar in concept. They protect the hardwood by maintaining the stain and grain in its original manufacturer’s format. When a manufacture warranties a finish life by years of service, it can be misleading to the consumer. These warranties are referring to the “total” loss of finish protection for the warranted years of service. In layman’s term, the finish starts to show signs of being “walked off” from usage. For years, spinning “disks” were used for testing the hardness of both the product and finish. That sounds crazy to me now unless you plan on “spinning” or going in circles on your hardwood floor. The carpet industry measures durability by the number of footsteps. Again if your hardwood floor is kept free from dirt and grit on the surface and from the shoes of the occupants, finish reduction is minimal at best from everyday usage. The two key complaints that consumers have about hardwood flooring finishes are gloss reduction and denting and or scratches. They will always exist. How you deal with them will eventually determine our continued growth and prosperity.

Routine maintenance and care can drastically reduce unwarranted complaints. Remember when our industry introduced the utilization of aluminum oxide in the finishes on prefinished hardwood flooring? In my personal opinion, these types of finishes were introduced to compete with the laminate flooring industry touting the usage of aluminum oxide. I also understand why the laminate flooring industry introduced this type of protection “coverage.” They are protecting a paper type “image” with no chance of altering that appearance without replacement of the unit of the entire floor if damaged or scratched. There was nothing wrong with adopting the concept but we also have to market the concept of renewal without replacement. We have become too hung up on the “top” instead of what lies “below.”

All hardwood flooring installations will require some type of “professional” maintenance in their lifetime. You can’t measure this by “spins” or the number of “steps” but only by actual real life usage. There’s nothing wrong with that; hardwood flooring was intended to be functional and fundamental. Did you know that the chain of “Cracker Barrel” restaurants throughout North America have a #1 white common oak floor in their general “store” area for patrons waiting to be seated that is maintained with a penetrating seal stain with no urethane finish? Every time I enter one of their locations, I fall in love with the beauty and “durability” of hardwood flooring all over again.

Today’s homeowner has several viable options for recoating their existing hardwood flooring. The selections are suitable for both prefinished and job site finished. The sheen levels available are gloss, semi-gloss and satin. Each finish has their very own distinct advantages. Most realtors will list gloss or semi-gloss as their preference for resale. Just as fresh paint does for the walls, these finishes render the appearance of freshness as well. Gloss or semi-gloss are both reflective and can also highlight “normal” scratches and indentations. Satin has or “should” be the finish of choice with a growing family and a home with pets. Satin is very forgiving for camouflaging scratches or floors that are incapable of being kept “sparkling” clean. Satin finish, when in a “soiled” state will also give the appearance to an uninformed homeowner that the finish is “missing” and needing professional maintenance. This misconception can even find a “home” with both gloss and semi-gloss finished hardwood flooring installation as well.

The recoat process is quite simple in comparison to a “full blown” sanding process. The hardwood flooring is slightly abraded with a pad or “used screen” on the buffing machine. The flooring is then vacuumed and tacked to remove finish dust and the new finish is applied with a professional applicator of choice. Another process available require no abrading. These systems allow the finisher to apply finish in a “basically” dust free environment. The downside of these types of systems is that scratches that are currently present may still appear after the process. This can only be determined by the professional when evaluating the condition of the floor.

Wood or Wood Knot knows the importance of our flooring professionals. You will always shine in the eyes of our industry. All we ask is for you to pass it on to our long-lasting hardwood.