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Coatings: What are the options and what should I choose?

Selecting a timber floor coating that is right for you will depend on a number of factors including anticipated traffic, maintenance expectations, aesthetic considerations, budget constraints and your environmental stance.

Across the country there are a countless number of coatings available for internal use which can be split into three main groups; Solvent Based Coatings, Water Based Coatings and Oil Based Coatings.

Solvent Based Coatings

Historically speaking solvent based coatings are the industry standard and the most commonly used coating type across Australia. Solvent based coatings offer a durable, economical and low maintenance floor with an installation process that is generally trouble free. Solvent based coatings are available in matt, satin, semi-gloss, gloss and super-gloss sheen levels.

Solvent based coatings do not penetrate the timbers surface but rather form a protective film over the top. A downside of this coating type is the strong solvent smell on application and as such extra precautions are necessary until the coating has completely cured which can take up to a few weeks.

Water Based Coatings

As the name suggests water based coatings are waterborne and subsequently better for the environment being low in VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) and toxicity.

As a product group they are viewed as the newest coating technology on the market with sales growing rapidly and fast approaching that of solvent based coatings. Water based coatings are often selected due to the absence of any strong solvent smells on application and because they are not prone to edge bonding.

Although a slightly more expensive option, water based coatings have a faster drying time and through extraction of timber tannins really bring out the colours in a timber floor. Water based coating are more resistant to yellowing which you may have seen in an aged floor coated with a solvent based product.

Oil Based Coatings

Oil based coatings are aesthetically appealing and offer the most natural looking floor of the three categories described. Typically speaking however, oils require a higher level of maintenance than the water or solvent based alternatives. By design an oil based coating penetrates the timber’s surface and as such is the only coating type that maintains the timber’s natural texture after coating.

Oil based coatings are very common in commercial applications due to their hard wearing nature and ability to be more easily repaired than other coating types.

Choosing the correct coating for your new floor is very important and we’d love to help you with honest unbiased information, samples and photos to assist you in the decision making process.