Floor finishing is all about giving your installation that characteristic charm that will enhance the ambience. Whether you want calm tone that sets a relaxing mood, or bold looks that make a grand statement the moment a person walks through the front door, there is a finish product for you. Numerous options are available, blending with the different kinds of wood species for both residential and commercial establishments. You get to bring out your personality in your home, and give your business premises that touch of professionalism that impresses customers who have come to seek your products and services. The floor finishing process is intensive- whether it’s treating new installation that has just been set up, sanding and restoring the current flooring to its lost glory, or changing things up with different hues to bring a new look to the establishment. Whichever the case, the end results depend on how properly the finishing is done. Mistakes that are made during the process become glaring anomalies once the finishing is complete. This article will focus on a common problem that occurs towards the final stages of the floor care project: stop marks.
You’re applying the finish coats on the floor, in uniform layers, working to get that perfect hue. You decide to shift from one board to the next, or change direction, stop to rewet the applicator, perhaps even make another pass on the same spot. Suddenly, you stop the applicator tool. What happens? The finish stops and settles into that spot. Now there’s a stop mark on your floor. That clearly defined mark of finish that interrupts the otherwise smooth coat that had been applied. Adding salt to injury, the finish accents the blemishes. For instance, you can be adding a satin or matte finish onto your floor that has already been treated with a wood stain and polyurethane sealer, only for the stop marks to be magnified and frustrate you.
Stop marks are as a result of flattening agents in the finish getting deposited whenever the applicator stop, reverses direction, or gets lifted. They appear as shiny or dull streaks randomly spread out on the floor. Sometimes they can be lines running cross-grain in the finish. There have even been cases of the lines running across the middle of the room, from one wall to the other. The stop marks are a nuisance at best. After all that hard work of the floor finishing, from the sanding to ensure the surface is smooth, to applying the treatment products like wood stains, lacquers and varnishes, only for there to be blemishes popping up all over. That uniform layer gets dotted or streaked with the marks that show where one made pauses during the finishing, which is not what you intended to happen. On light coloured wood floors, they are harder to spot with the naked eye, but with the dark wood species, they come screaming from the floor. Regardless of the case, you don’t want stop marks ruining your elegant installation.
How To Prevent Stop Marks
It all comes down to correct application of the wood finish. Take this steps:
- First, ensure that you’re using the proper applicator, as is indicated on the product label. It may be a t-bar, roller, or even a lambswool applicator. Failing to stick to the recommended application tools increases the risk of stop marks forming.
- Next is to follow the actual application instruction, especially when it comes to issues like the spread rate and applicator weight. This enables you to manage the coats being applied, and preventing the stop marks from forming.
- Now for some nifty tricks to ensure that you won’t be faced with the stop marks: For small rooms, simply wet the applicator and run it from wall to wall without stopping. In case the room is too large for one to go the distance on a single dip, a more strategic approach will need to be taken. Start by planning out the work area, and pouring a line of finish along its length. Run the applicator through the length of the floor, without lifting it up. That way, there will be plenty of finish product to work with without having to stop midway. The concept is straightforward: if you lay down each pass of finish without stopping, then there won’t be any stop marks to worry about. What of the turn marks? Simply feather out with a smooth and light pass, and you’ll be good to go.
Back to the applicators. For some finishes the best way to prevent stop lines is to use a roller rather than a lambswool applicator. This is because the roller lays the finish on the surface instead of pushing it as is with the lamsbswool. This is a better approach with satin or matte products. However, when rolling the finish remember to eliminate airflow to ensure that the product used flows and levels properly to prevent a textured look from forming. Also, it’s recommended that you use 1/4-inch nap rollers. Going too thick will make it difficult to roll, resulting in a heavy film being laid onto the floor and leading to prolonged drying time.
Getting Rid Of Stop Marks
In case there are already stop marks on the floor, don’t fret. It doesn’t mean that your floor restoration project is doomed. They can easily be removed. All it’ll take is some extra time and elbow grease. Start by screening the floor using high grit sandpaper. Remember that the goal is simply to remove the stop mark, not sand through to the bare wood. For instance, use a 120-grit sandpaper. Vacuum away the dust after the rescreening, then reapply the finish and allow it to dry. This should be done when there are conducive temperatures and relative humidity level. When it’s hot, the finish can lose its solvents too quickly and start setting before it has properly flown out on the floor. To ensure that you have sufficiently screened the stop marks, you can wipe the affected section with a damp towel, which will replicate how the finish would look like. If there are no visible marks where you wipe, then there won’t be any marks after the finish has been applied.