1. Should we use lacquer or oil?
There are pros and cons for both treatments but in a domestic environment there is little to choose between them. The wear and tear on a commercial floor such as a restaurant or museum is far more significant. Wooden floors, lacquered or oiled, will require care and re-coating. The protective barrier that lacquer creates will wear through in time and it is important to apply a fresh lacquer coat before this happens. If it does wear through to the timber any dust and dirt on the floor will be trodden in to the wood grain. To remove it you will have to sand the whole floor again as local repairs are very difficult if not impossible. Oiled floors do not create a protective barrier above the wood rather the wood absorbs the oil giving it repellent properties. The main benefit of an oiled floor is that local repairs can be carried out to damaged areas and they will blend back into the rest of the floor when re-oiled. Re-oiling will need to be carried out far more frequently than lacquering, usually about every 18 to 36 months.
2. Should we decorate before you sand?
It is fine to decorate before sanding commences but it is best to leave the skirting until afterwards. Any skirting is subject to a little scuffing from the edge sander and could well need touching up. We do all we can to limit the marks left but it is difficult to predict what will happen until we start.
3. Can you fill the gaps between boards?
In short, yes but there are a few cautionary points.
Firstly it is worth considering the effect on the air circulation beneath the floor. By stopping a small draft you might create a bigger problem in the future. Secondly, unless your floor is on a solid bed or if boarded, they are tongue and groove boards, the filler will fall through in time. The expansion and contraction of a timber floor gives it a sort of living feeling and therefore any filling will, in time, shown signs of movement. We discuss filling with clients on a project by project basis as it comes down to a matter of taste. Usually we would fill any nail holes, radiator pipe holes, timber splits and knot marks. End board joins would usually be filled but it depends on how solid the floor is laid. Parquet and 5 finger block floors are simple to fill because of the solid sub floor.
4. How much dust will there be?
Our machines are marketed as being 97% dust free. The reality is that it all depends on the floor. If the floor is uneven and by uneven I mean height variations of quite a few millimetres, the dust extraction will not work as well. When sanding a room about 10 square metres we would expect to remove about 3 to 5 carrier bags of dust. Roughly 3% of that will not be collected. We do have access to a dust filtration unit that removes 99.9% if requested.
5. What will the maintenance be for a lacquered floor?
The main advice is to have good clean door mats, to sweep and vacuum regularly and to keep an eye on any areas that get lots of traffic i.e. by the sink or in an entrance hall. When these show signs of wearing through ask someone to apply another coat of lacquer. I would expect a floor to survive for quite few years before a new coat is needed. In theory, if you keep the abrasive dust and dirt particles away it will last for ages, maybe longer than you!
6. What will the maintenance be for an oiled floor?
Oiled floors need to be fed oil from time to time as the daily routine of foot traffic very slowly removes the oil from the timber. Re-oiling is usually needed every 18 to 36 months in a domestic environment but it is a very simple process. Daily cleaning should be with a vacuum or dry mop. Damp mopping can be carried out using the correct floor cleaner.
7. How long before I can use the floor after treatment?
A lacquered floor will be touch dry in about 1 – 3 hours depending on season and ventilation. It will require roughly another 3 days for the lacquer to cure properly. Furniture should be kept off the floor for as long as possible, 3 days if you can. Anything heavy could possibly dent the lacquer if it is put back too soon.
An oiled floor can be walked on lightly within a few hours but it should be left to cure for about 24 hours.
8. How long will the floor last?
There is always going to be wear on any floor no matter what you put down. How much wear you are prepared to accept is entirely your taste. Some floors look completely worn with scratches and wear marks all over them but in the right setting they look perfect. Different lacquers are used depending on the use of the floor so usually it all depends on how you treat it. You should expect a lacquered floor to last for many years if treated well. Even then it might look perfectly fine to you and live on for a few more years. I did hear someone in the industry say that an average floor in Sweden will last 17 years compared to 5 in Britain because they are far more used to living with timber flooring and know how to care for it. At least it gives some idea of what can be achieved.
An oiled floor will need feeding with oil after about 18 to 36 months in a domestic home. On a commercial floor it could be as often as twice a year.