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How to Check if Wood Floor is Waxed?


application of hardwax-oil with buffing machineNone can deny that floor sanding can help improve both the condition and the appearance of wooden floors. However, it is not the only solution. Sometimes you just don’t have to strip the entire finish and it is enough to simply buff and recoat instead. And here comes the problem. If you want to recoat, you must know what was the original finish or you risk making a complete mess. Some products are simply not compatible with each other.

People don’t recoat their wooden floors every day. It takes years for the surface to become worn and distressed enough to require more serious attention. Unfortunately, the period can be so long that when the time comes for recoating, we have already forgotten what kind of finish was originally used. When that happens, we can only put on our detective hat, examine the finish and attempt to guess what we applied last time.

About Wax Finish

Waxes are a traditional floor finishing products. They were used a lot in the past but were eventually replaced by products which can provide much better protection while needing a lot less frequent maintenance. Waxes, though, are far from obsolete. Many people enjoy using natural products like this one which does not contain any VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) and doesn’t harm human health in any way, shape or form.

The typical wax will contain beeswax, paraffin wax and carnauba wax mixed with turpentine or white spirit. The finish emits a sweet aroma which people find pleasant. The higher the amount of carnauba wax in the product, the better durability it displays, so the price goes up accordingly. The cheapest and less resilient waxes contain mostly paraffin.

There are two types of waxes – water or solvent based and available as a paste or liquid. There isn’t much difference between the two in terms of quality. Waxes can be applied on top of a lacquer or varnish and can be buffed regularly.

What Kind of Finish Do I Have?

There are two main types of finishes. Those that protect the surface (like lacquers or varnishes) and those that soak into the wood itself and protect it from the inside (penetrating oils). Surface finishes form a protective film on top of the floor. This means that if you run your hand over the surface and you cannot feel the grain of the wood, you probably have exactly such kind of finish. If it was something like penetrating oil, you would be able to sense the grain.

How to Determine If You Have a Wax Finish

Wax finishes are easy to distinguish due to the way they react to water. It is easy to mark them with water spills.

In an inconspicuous area, corner or behind a door, apply two (2) drops of water. If within ten minutes, white spots appear under the drops of water, the floor has a wax finish.

To remove the white spots, gently rub the area with steel wool dampened with wax. If the finish does not flake from scratching with a coin and white spots do not appear from the drops of water, the floor has a surface finish and should be maintained accordingly.




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