Is your floor peeling? Can you pull a thin layer of finish off like wallpaper? If a floor is not finished properly, you may run into problems down the road, including a peeling floor. Not only is this unsightly, but it can leave your wood floors susceptible to wood damage! Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself to determine why your floor is peeling.
1.) Is the peel easy to remove from the wood or is it only loose in specific areas? Use a razor knife to see if film peels off easily. If the peel is loose all over, the coats were not bonded well between coats. If just occasional spots, it is more likely due to some local contamination or condition.
2.) Is the back of the film shiny? Look at the film piece and note where on the board the failure occurred. The middle of the board can indicate the lower coat was cured or there was not enough abrasion between the coats to maintain a good bond for the next coat. If the peeling occurred on an edge of a board it could also mean expansion from moisture issues or improper abrasion.
3.) Is there color on the film? If there was a stain on the floor, look to see if there is color on the peeled film. If so, the stain was not dry when coated … regardless of how long the contractor waited. Also, ask if the contractor double coated the stain. In most cases, double coating stain will result in failure to bond because the internal strength of the stain is weaker than the coating bond.
4.) Is there still finish under the peel or is it bare wood? Test with the razor knife to be sure. If there is still film then the failure was between coats. If the area is bare wood, then the failure is off the wood.
5.) Are you left with bare wood? If the peeling leaves bare wood, the options are narrowed to a sealer failure or the wood was not prepared properly before coating. Check the peeling for abrasion marks to determine proper floor preparation, or contact the sealer manufacturer for more information. Proper mechanical abrasion is key to aiding adhesion.
6.) Do the meter readings match or is the floor wet? Check the floor with a moisture meter along with some adjacent wood surfaces such as trim or beams etc. Moisture issues can cause excessive wood swelling and increase the chances for delamination.
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, there is a good possibility you have your reason for a peeling floor. If none of these reasons pertain to you and your floor is still peeling, we recommend calling a NWFA Certified Professional.
Tip: Many contractors and builders want to protect a floor by covering the floor. Do not tape to the floor. Taping anything to the floor can cause finish failure. The tape adhesive contains plasticizers which are nondrying solvents. The tape adhesive can attack the finish. When the tape is pulled, it can pull finish with the tape.
Micah Petersen, Product Manager for Basic Coatings®, spent the first 15 years of his career as a Research and Development Chemist before becoming Product Manager. In his free time he enjoys spending time with his family and a multitude of outdoor activities. For further questions regarding hardwood floor care and Basic Coatings, please email Micah at Micahblog@basiccoatings.com.