Breaking into the wood floor refinish market can seem daunting. There is the expensive machinery, hours upon hours of practice to get good at running them, learning how to get the floor as scratch-free as possible, and all those products you need to know well to get a good result on your final product. However, a sub-segment of the wood floor refinish market that goes underserved is the maintenance/recoat sub-segment.
Maintenance coatings will be needed by every wood floor out there, not just the ones that are finished onsite. Think of all those factory-finished wood floors—millions upon millions of square feet that will eventually need a maintenance coat of some sort. There are the older style film-coated floors as well as the penetrating oil/hard wax oil coatings found in both residential and commercial settings. All of these will need professional maintenance at some point. Setting up for this business market is not so difficult with the big-ticket items being buffers, vacuums and floor scrubbers.
In addition to maintenance coatings, these key areas apply (no pun intended!) to the last coats on a job finished floor too. Here are four key areas for a successful floor recoating.
Remove all contaminants.
When facing a recoat, chances are you will need to handle possible contaminants from improper maintenance products or messy homeowner lifestyles. Reactions such as orange peel, fisheye or finish crawl are among the most common seen when coating over contamination. Use industry-specific products that clean contaminants without themselves being another contamination. Follow the product instructions carefully. If you have any doubts, repeat the process before applying the finish coating. This is where one of those floor scrubber units can come in handy!
Get a good grip.
There are mechanical abrasion methods and chemical applications that enhance bonding of the maintenance coat to the existing finish. Which to use depends on the coating you are working on. Factory finish coatings with Aluminum Oxide (Al2O3) are near impossible to micro-scratch during mechanical abrasion; that’s why the coating contains Al2O3. In these instances, using a chemical method can insure a good bond for the next coat.
Clean like it’s a surgery.
Industry great Daniel Boone has a saying, “The cleanest place on a job is between the truck and where the floor is.” As much as you clean the floor ahead of coating, you should also clean the walking path between your truck and the rooms to be coated. Tracking in dirt or a foreign substance from a driveway, like dripped motor oil, can ruin all your hard work. Additionally, you should clean the walls, door jambs, baseboards and sills of dust and such, with several microfiber towels until the towels come off the surfaces clean. As best you can, cover your body to prevent losing hair. Long sleeve shirts, long pants and a cap will keep that pesky strand of hair from getting in the finish coat.
No air movement, please.
Plan on working without any air movement. Ceiling vents that blow directly on fresh finish can accelerate the film set and not allow film flow. Moving air also carries airborne dust particles that can drop into your finish coating. If you are in a hot climate, you can drop the house temperature down a few hours in advance of turning the units off. Another option is to plan on coating early in the morning or late in the afternoon when temperatures can be managed without air flow.Done right, maintenance coating not only adds years to the floor’s life, but it can also augment your business offerings, establish long-term relationships with your clients, and certainly, add to the bottom line of your business.