Can you scratch your floor finish with your finger nail? Is your floor finish tacky? Does your floor finish mark easily? It sounds like your floor finish never completely hardened. This issue is almost always because the job was not dried with adequate ventilation. The oil modified urethanes stay soft for a different reason than water base systems, but the root cause is not enough air movement.
All oil modified finishes contain slow drying solvents. Also, they contain an antiskinning agent to keep the product from forming a skin in the can. This works by forming a layer over the surface that prevents the air from reacting with the finish. This antiskinning agent stops the cure! If there is no air movement, then the mineral spirits and antiskinning agent cannot evaporate and allow the oxygen in the air to react with the finish. This is even worse under high humidity conditions. It is not necessary to have a high wind over the floor, but you cannot have dead air.
Another very common reason for soft surface jobs is covering the floor too soon after coating. Covering with the wrong material will also cause issues for the drying process. If you trap the solvents, water and antiskinning agents under a cover, they will keep the film soft and prevent it from hardening.
Cleaning the floor sooner than recommended and/ or using a cleaner that is too strong or incorrect can soften the floor and prevent it from hardening properly.
To prevent this, always find a way to ventilate the floor to properly remove water, remove solvents and remove antiskinning agents so your finish will harden to its maximum capabilities. If the jobsite cannot be left open for any particular reason, then use low circulation fans to turn the air. Do not cover the floor for at least two weeks.
Note: Do not tape paper to the floor, only tape paper to paper. The tape can cause peeling of finish as most tape adhesives contain plasticizers which are non-drying solvents. Pulling tape from a floor can rip the floor finish.
If you’re looking to finish your hardwood floors in the upcoming weeks, don’t forget to take a look at our new product, EasyStreet™!
Micah Petersen, Senior 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