A Faster, More Durable Floor Finish
Portable UV equipment yields a fully cured finish in seconds, not days.
Synopsis: After a wood floor has been finished with an oil- or water-based polyurethane, it takes anywhere from a week to a month for the finish to fully cure. Until then, even though the floor is dry, it is susceptible to scratches. Flooring specialist Jorge Boror has become a big fan of UV-cured floor finishing, which requires special equipment and is more expensive but creates a more durable finish than a non-UV-cured product and produces a fully cured floor in seconds.
When I decided to offer my customers UV-cured floor finishes, I knew little about the process. What I did know was that the finish was more durable than oil- or water-based polyurethane — more like the clear coat you get with prefinished flooring — and I liked the idea of standing out from the competition. I figured that this would be the next big thing in the residential flooring market and that other contractors would be close on my heels, so I ordered the equipment (jelight.com) and signed up for training. That decision paid off, because I’ve been seeing more and more flooring companies take on this new technology.
Now, for what amounts to about a $6-per-sq.-ft. upcharge, my customers have the option of a floor finish that is more durable than any non-UV-cured product. That’s a big selling point for me, because many of my jobs are in Providence and Boston, where a lot of homes open right onto dirty, high-traffic, and heavily salted sidewalks. Keeping hardwood floors in decent shape under those conditions isn’t easy, and I’ll take all the help I can get. Beyond durability, the UV cure also adds convenience.
The turnaround on a standard floor finish is three to four days, after which the finish is dry but not cured. That’s an important, though often misunderstood, distinction. Until a finish has cured — which requires anywhere from a week to a month, depending on the product and conditions — it’s very susceptible to scratches. You may be able to walk across the floor within a couple of hours, but the fumes can be intense, and it’s out of the question to replace area rugs and furniture and to use the space normally. UV systems achieve the same cure in a matter of seconds.
The process is simple
All aspects of a site-cured UV floor finish are the same as with a traditional sand-and-finish scenario, except for two major differences: The final clear coat must be a special water-based UV-activated product, and once that UV coating is dry to the touch (typically in one to two hours), it must be exposed to high-powered UV lighting equipment in order for it to cure.
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