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The pros and cons of waxing wooden floors

Although today we are more used to our hardwood floors being finished with polyurethane, in the not so distant past, all of the finest homes had wooden floors that were finished with wax.

Since the finish is the last layer of protection that is given to a wooden floor, it is a very important matter, and a wax finish is one of the most sophisticated options available to homeowners who want to ensure that their properties look elegant.

What are wax’s advantages?

Although polyurethane has been the main substance used to finish hardwood floors for over 40 years now, wax is staging something of a comeback because it gives a less common finish, which can help floors using it to stand out from the rest.

One of the best things about a wax finish is that it has a very low sheen, which gives it a more relaxed look than it is possible to create with a polyurethane finish.

Toxicity

Another great factor when choosing a wax finish is the fact that it is a much healthier option, simply because both liquid wax and solid paste wax have fewer VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and are generally less toxic than polyurethane. If you are concerned about your health or the environment, a wax finish could be your best friend.

Simple application

In most circumstances, a wax finish will be much easier to apply than the alternatives available to you, so if you are finishing your floors yourself, it may be worth looking into the option in order to make life a bit easier for yourself.

Smell

Of course, wax has a much less offensive odour than alternatives like polyurethane and acid-cured finishes, so if you are sensitive to strong smells, choosing a wax finish would spare your nose.

Penetration

Wax finish is able to penetrate deep into the heart of your wooden flooring, which means that it offers an excellent level of protection by feeding the wood as it does. Not only that, but when you choose a wax finish, your floors will benefit from a low luster.

What are wax’s disadvantages?

Despite the many obvious benefits of choosing a wax finish for your flooring, it is also fair to say that there are a number of cons to using wax as opposed to other alternatives, too. Here are just a few of the most important to bear in mind:

Staining

Over a period of years, wax has the tendency to darken and stain wood, which means your floor could end up a much different colour to the one you would like. However, this is something that can be avoided if you use a base coat of either standing sealer or shellac along with the wax. Using one of these as a base will seal the wood, preventing staining from occurring.

Durability

Sadly, wax is not quite as tough as polyurethane finishes, which means that you will end up having to refinish your floors more often if you opt for a wax finish than you would have to with an alternative like polyurethane.

Not suitable for all flooring

Although solid paste was is very popular at the moment, and it is fair to say that it gives a stunning finish, it is not suitable to use on vinyl and no-wax flooring. You must not use this kind of wax on floors with a urethane finish either. However, it is perfect for unvarnished hardwood floors and can be used on a vast array of materials, including cork, linoleum, and concrete.

Liquid wax should also never be used on no-wax and vinyl floors, or urethane finished floors. It is only suitable for unfinished linoleum, cork, and unvarnished hardwood floors. It’s a better option for people who want to wax their floors quickly because less rubbing is involved in the process.

The best way to apply liquid wax is with a terry cloth, which will ensure that the wax gets into all the cracks and crevices of the wood. All you will need to do to apply it is follow the grain of the wood in a linear fashion, rubbing as you go.

Hard graft

When using solid paste wax, you will need to wax your floors by hand, which means that it will take a lot of elbow grease, so you will need to be fairly fit to do so.

In short, you will need to use an old cotton T-shirt or rag that is clean and soft. Slightly moisten the shirt and wring as much water out as possible before putting a small amount of the wax onto the shirt and lightly applying it to the floor. When the wax is dry, you will need to carefully remove any cloudy residue with a mop, cloth or polisher.

What tips are there for applying a wax finish?

It can be a good idea to place a fan in the direction of the room you are waxing in order to speed up the drying process. However, it is important that you do not point the fan right at the floor, as this can damage the wax’s adhesive properties.

When the first layer of wax has dried, it’s a good idea to wax the floor again. Three coats of wax is usually optimum, but some brands do vary, so be sure to check the instructions.

If you want to ensure that your floor has the perfect finish, you will need to leave it completely undisturbed for at least eight hours.

Lastly, you should always clean all of the tools and equipment you use to wax your floor immediately, because it can be difficult, if not impossible, to do once the wax has dried.

As you can see, there are lots of reasons to use a wax finish, and a few why you may not wish to do so. If you need any additional help or suggestions, it would be a good idea to contact a good hardwood flooring company like ourselves.

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