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Old 02-01-2009, 04:51 PM   #1
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Changing poly type during hardwood floor refinishing


I decided on a water based poly - satin finish..

I applied 2 coats and think I want more polish.

Can I switch now and achieve a better gloss?

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Old 02-01-2009, 05:06 PM   #2
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Changing poly type during hardwood floor refinishing


if it's dried enough, try buffing it first. you may like it enough to decide not to go through the extra work. Po)

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Old 02-01-2009, 10:42 PM   #3
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Changing poly type during hardwood floor refinishing


If you're still in the process of apply coats of finish, and you want a higher gloss, you can just go ahead and put a different gloss finish down over what you have. Just apply a glossier waterborne polyurethane made by the same company and from the same product line as the satin you used. That is, use exactly the same product, only in a higher gloss. It should bond to the old satin finish as well as another coat of satin would.

With utmost respect, I have to disagree with my friend DangerMouse regarding his suggestion that you "buff" the floor to increase the gloss.

There are two reasons for that:

1. Buffing would work if the binder of floor finish itself was rough. However, in this case the finish you applied was a satin finish. It would have normally dried to a high gloss, except that it has extender pigments in it, which are huge rocks that are almost large enough to see with the naked eye. It's these extender pigments in the floor finish that make the surface of the floor finish rough. On a hard finish like one suitable for a floor, you can be confident that the extender pigments are very hard. My guess is that they would be silica dust, which is silica sand pulverized into an very fine powder.

Buffing the floor is not going to polish these hard particles of silica dust. The most buffing would do is break them loose from the waterborne polyurethane holding them in place so that they'd scratch up the floor as you buffed, making it less glossy still.

Buffing the floor would only work if the finish on it didn't contain those hard extender pigments, and was dull only because it was rough for some other reason, such as having something hard and rough dragged across the finish to roughen it's surface. If you had a high gloss waterborne polyurethane, and you dragged a heavy Hide-a-bed across the floor, then you might be able to buff out the scratches in the floor finish with a floor machine. Even still, I believe it would be easier just to use an artist's paint brush to paint another coat of floor finish over those scratches.

2. The harder the floor finish, the less it will respond to polishing. Buffing will only increase the gloss of a floor finish that's soft enough to respond to polishing.

With the hardwood floors of the 1950's and 60's, the floor finish of choice was Carnauba Wax, which was a wax soft enough to respond to buffing with something like this:



That's cuz Carnauba wax was relatively soft. The harder the material, the harder it is to polish that material smooth.

For example, to polish a normal acrylic floor finish, you need a floor machine that weighs about 100 pounds (all electric motor and transmission) with a red nylon pad. "Burnishing finishes" are acrylic floor finishes that dry harder and that need a much faster rotating nylon pad to generate enough heat through friction to soften the finish sufficiently to polish it smooth. Some acrylic finishes (typically used on granite floors) are so hard that propane is used both to power the burnisher and heat the finish to soften it sufficiently so that it can be polished smooth. Your waterborne polyurethane would be closest in hardness to that last kind of acrylic finish, and you'd need a propane burnisher like this to polish it:



And, Paragraph #2 completely ignores the fact that the roughness in your floor is not due to the binder itself being rough. It's because of those tiny but hard extender pigments embedded in the binder that cause the finish to dry to a satin finish rather than a gloss. Polishing that floor with a Carnauba Wax buffer won't do anything at all, and polishing it with a propane burnisher like the one above will only make a mess of it (IMHO).

If you want a glossier floor, and your still in the process of finishing the hardwood, just apply a glossier finish over what you have. The more finish on that floor, the better the hardwood is protected. However, if the finish you've put down has dried completely, it might be advisable to lightly sand the existing finish down a bit, clean up the dust and then apply a glossier finish. That's something you should discuss with whomever you bought the hardwood from or whomever is finishing your floor. I just don't know if new waterborne polyurethane will stick as well to satin water borne polyurethane as sanded waterborne polyurethane.
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Old 02-02-2009, 06:00 AM   #4
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Changing poly type during hardwood floor refinishing


Quote:
Originally Posted by Nestor_Kelebay View Post
If you're still in the process of apply coats of finish, and you want a higher gloss, you can just go ahead and put a different gloss finish down over what you have. Just apply a glossier waterborne polyurethane made by the same company and from the same product line as the satin you used. That is, use exactly the same product, only in a higher gloss. It should bond to the old satin finish as well as another coat of satin would.

With utmost respect, I have to disagree with my friend DangerMouse regarding his suggestion that you "buff" the floor to increase the gloss.

There are two reasons for that:

1. Buffing would work if the binder of floor finish itself was rough. However, in this case the finish you applied was a satin finish. It would have normally dried to a high gloss, except that it has extender pigments in it, which are huge rocks that are almost large enough to see with the naked eye. It's these extender pigments in the floor finish that make the surface of the floor finish rough. On a hard finish like one suitable for a floor, you can be confident that the extender pigments are very hard. My guess is that they would be silica dust, which is silica sand pulverized into an very fine powder.

Buffing the floor is not going to polish these hard particles of silica dust. The most buffing would do is break them loose from the waterborne polyurethane holding them in place so that they'd scratch up the floor as you buffed, making it less glossy still.

Buffing the floor would only work if the finish on it didn't contain those hard extender pigments, and was dull only because it was rough for some other reason, such as having something hard and rough dragged across the finish to roughen it's surface. If you had a high gloss waterborne polyurethane, and you dragged a heavy Hide-a-bed across the floor, then you might be able to buff out the scratches in the floor finish with a floor machine. Even still, I believe it would be easier just to use an artist's paint brush to paint another coat of floor finish over those scratches.

2. The harder the floor finish, the less it will respond to polishing. Buffing will only increase the gloss of a floor finish that's soft enough to respond to polishing.

With the hardwood floors of the 1950's and 60's, the floor finish of choice was Carnauba Wax, which was a wax soft enough to respond to buffing with something like this:



That's cuz Carnauba wax was relatively soft. The harder the material, the harder it is to polish that material smooth.

For example, to polish a normal acrylic floor finish, you need a floor machine that weighs about 100 pounds (all electric motor and transmission) with a red nylon pad. "Burnishing finishes" are acrylic floor finishes that dry harder and that need a much faster rotating nylon pad to generate enough heat through friction to soften the finish sufficiently to polish it smooth. Some acrylic finishes (typically used on granite floors) are so hard that propane is used both to power the burnisher and heat the finish to soften it sufficiently so that it can be polished smooth. Your waterborne polyurethane would be closest in hardness to that last kind of acrylic finish, and you'd need a propane burnisher like this to polish it:



And, Paragraph #2 completely ignores the fact that the roughness in your floor is not due to the binder itself being rough. It's because of those tiny but hard extender pigments embedded in the binder that cause the finish to dry to a satin finish rather than a gloss. Polishing that floor with a Carnauba Wax buffer won't do anything at all, and polishing it with a propane burnisher like the one above will only make a mess of it (IMHO).

If you want a glossier floor, and your still in the process of finishing the hardwood, just apply a glossier finish over what you have. The more finish on that floor, the better the hardwood is protected. However, if the finish you've put down has dried completely, it might be advisable to lightly sand the existing finish down a bit, clean up the dust and then apply a glossier finish. That's something you should discuss with whomever you bought the hardwood from or whomever is finishing your floor. I just don't know if new waterborne polyurethane will stick as well to satin water borne polyurethane as sanded waterborne polyurethane.
A simple yes would have also answered this post.
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Old 02-02-2009, 06:32 AM   #5
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Changing poly type during hardwood floor refinishing


"A simple yes would have also answered this post."



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Old 02-02-2009, 08:20 AM   #6
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Changing poly type during hardwood floor refinishing


Nothing wrong with an informative post gentlemen.
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Old 02-02-2009, 08:24 AM   #7
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Changing poly type during hardwood floor refinishing


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Originally Posted by thekctermite View Post
Nothing wrong with an informative post gentlemen.
I agree, in fact I save a lot of Nestor's posts...
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Old 02-02-2009, 11:08 AM   #8
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Changing poly type during hardwood floor refinishing


Well, I did answer the question right at the top of my post. All the rest of the post was to explain why, contrary to intuition, polishing the satin finish wouldn't work.

It's the difference between giving someone a chicken and teaching them to steal chickens.

Glad people take the time to read my posts.
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Old 02-02-2009, 12:30 PM   #9
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Changing poly type during hardwood floor refinishing


With the current chicken wing shortage this may be a good talent to learn.
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Old 02-02-2009, 12:44 PM   #10
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Changing poly type during hardwood floor refinishing


perhaps the chemical composition is different for floors than wall paints and spray satin finishes, but i've seen satin worn smooth and shiny many times on walls and other projects. please forgive me for assuming it would probably be the same with floor satin finishes.

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Old 02-02-2009, 05:15 PM   #11
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Changing poly type during hardwood floor refinishing


DangerMouse:

Oh, I don't doubt that you've seen satin paint polished smooth.

But, there are different kinds of extender pigments. MOST inexpensive paints will use either calcium carbonate (chaulk) or magnesium silicate (talc) as extender pigments (to cause the paint to dry to a flatter gloss). And, both of these materials are very soft. You can rub chaulk away with your fingers, and Talc (aka: talcum powder) is baby powder, and so it won't be abrasive like pulverized sand would be. It's actually very soft.

So, if you have a wall paint with chaulk or talcum powder in it to make it dry to a satin finish, I don't doubt for a minute that it could be polished smooth.

But, I don't think you could polish a paint that had hard extender pigments in it smooth.

You don't need to know the rest:

In fact, one reliable way to gauge the quality of a latex wall paint is by the hardness of the extender pigments used in it. The reason why is that paint companies know that to get good "scrubbability" in a paint, (which is the ability of a paint to stand up to hard scrubbing without losing it's gloss) you need to have both a hard extender pigment and a strong hard binder to hold those extender pigments firmly in place. And, a good measure of the quality of the latex binder used in a paint is how hard and strong a film the binder dries to.

So, if the label on the paint can says that it uses a hard extender pigment (like ground silica sand, which will just be called "silica" on the can's label), then you can be sure that the binder will form a strong hard film, and that means it's top quality, too.

The reason is that there would be no point in using a hard extender pigment like ground silica if the paint film itself wasn't strong and hard enough to support those hard extender pigments against being scrubbed off. Similarily, if the paint manufacturer were paying more for a top quality latex resin that dried to a hard and strong film, he wouldn't be getting the additional benefit of good scrubbability if he used a soft extender pigment in that paint. Extender pigments are cheap compared to the binder in the paint, so putting in a hard extender pigment in that strong and hard binder film would provide much better scrubbability for only a small incremental cost. And, as mentioned before, having a hard extender pigment in the paint is a waste of money unless the the binder forms a strong and hard enough film to hold those hard particles firmly in place.

Think of sandpaper. If you use hard abrasives particles, but a weak glue to hold them to the paper backing, you don't have a good product cuz the abrasives will be worn off easily. Similarily, if you use a strong glue, but a soft abrasive, you're sandpaper sucks too cuz the abrasive wears down easily. The only way to make good sandpaper is to use BOTH a hard abrasive and a strong glue that holds those hard abrasive particles firmly in place. Paying extra for either is a waste of money unless you get BOTH. It's exactly the same thing with paints and floor finishes.

For a floor finish, you necessarily have to use a binder that dries to a hard film to stand up well on a floor. Consequently, if the customer wants a satin gloss on her floor, there's no point in using chaulk or talc to lower the gloss because those soft bumps will be worn off quickly just from foot traffic. For only a few cents more, you can use a harder extender pigment (like ground silica sand) that will stand up much better on a floor and won't get worn off easily. In fact, I'd venture to guess that if whatever company made her waterborne polyurethane used a soft extender pigment to lower it's gloss to satin, then the customers wouldn't be satisfies because those soft pigments would get worn off easily underfoot and you'd soon have something more similar to a semi-gloss or gloss finish.

Not sure if I explained this point well enough. I understand it, but I don't know if I explained it.
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Old 02-02-2009, 06:37 PM   #12
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Changing poly type during hardwood floor refinishing


"In fact, I'd venture to guess that if whatever company made her waterborne polyurethane...etc."

what makes you think it's a woman? because of the changing the mind thing? lol

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Old 02-02-2009, 09:51 PM   #13
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Changing poly type during hardwood floor refinishing


Nope. It's just that the last person I dealt with on this Flooring forum that had just polyurethaned a new hardwood floor was a woman, so it was a learned association.
ie. New poly on hardwood floor = woman poster.

That, and the incessant and continuous nagging.
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Old 02-03-2009, 06:47 AM   #14
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Changing poly type during hardwood floor refinishing


in that case.....

well, if the OP grabs a rag and buffs an area and it works out ok..... then what? lol
perhaps they used spray satin?
ya never know.....

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Old 02-03-2009, 12:46 PM   #15
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Changing poly type during hardwood floor refinishing


DangerMouse:

I am NOT saying you are wrong.

I am saying:
"With utmost respect, I have to disagree with my friend DangerMouse regarding his suggestion that you "buff" the floor to increase the gloss."

because I feel (for the reasons already given) that polishing the satin finish won't work. The poster needs to put on a coat of glossier poly.

Every one of us answering questions in here has a greater obligation to give the best advice we can to the poster than to agree with each other just to avoid the possibility of an argument ensuing.

The risk is that differences in opinion turn personal and the result is often an insult hurling contest. Let's not go there. Let's accept the notion that everyone in here submits the best advice they can, and the poster makes the best decision he/she can based on the information he/she receives and the reasoning that makes the most sense to them.

Besides, disagreement between experts is the life blood of these forums. There is simply no other way for a newbie to learn enough about all aspects of a problem that he can confidently form his/her own informed opinion. So, I say let's disagree! It's good for the forum. But, let's keep the arguments on a technical level rather than letting them become personal cuz once that happens it becomes pointless.

I've read enough of your stuff to know that you are both knowledgeable and experienced, as am I. But we inevitably have different experiences and so it should be possible to explain our views to the poster without each of us taking that disagreement as a rebuke. I'd hope you'll agree.

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