Pulling back the belt sander after tearing off the old worn-out surface of a wood floor is very satisfying. My clients are stunned to see their old, dented, scraped, and faded wooden floors returned to a pale, clean and virgin state. Before long, the question comes. Can you leave hardwood floors unfinished?
You can’t leave hardwood floors unfinished. Unfinished floors are easily and permanently stained without a good layer of protection. Even without staining, the surface discolors very quickly. The surface is soft and liable to dents and scratches.
The next question would always be “can I keep them looking like this.” For the first 10-12 years of my hardwood floor refinishing career, the answer was always, unfortunately, no!
Well, thanks to the ingenuity of modern lacquer companies, that has changed.
Today, I have the pleasure of talking about a finish that everyone seems to be loving. That is, giving your floor the RAW WOOD effect… or bare timber… or natural… or unfinished… Honestly, there are so many ways of describing this finish, and it’s difficult to stick to one. Most ways of saying it has been taken up by wood floor finish manufacturers, calling their product one of these terms.
For example, in the video below, I use Blanchon Intensiv’ Bare Timber. There isn’t much difference between most of these bare wood products. However, I have noticed the white pigment in Bare Timber to be slightly less blotchy than in other lacquers. This is imperceptible to most people.
An Easy-To-Do Whitewash Finish
You will be pleased to hear that achieving this stunning and elegant finish is very easy! A matter of changing lacquers. I say this in contrast to staining your hardwood floors which is exceptionally hard for beginners (I highly recommend avoiding staining if you can, it’s so easy to screw up).
All you need to do is ‘pony up’ a few more bucks for the Natural Lacquer. Unfortunately, these lacquers are a fair amount more expensive than regular lacquers. The reason for this is that these lacquers use Titanium Dioxide (TiO2) for the pigment. Other cheaper white pigments react with the tannins in the wood and can turn a yellowy green. Titanium Dioxide is more stable and doesn’t cause this problem. It’s just more expensive.
To prepare the floor, you need to follow the same sanding methods outlined on this website and in my youtube videos. Be sure to sand deep enough that all the UV damage has been removed. Otherwise, that yellowness will shine through the lacquer.
These lacquers have around a 4-6% sheen, which is as low as you can get! It looks like bare wood that has been sanded to maybe a 240 grit (which you shouldn’t do, otherwise you have adherence issues with the finish.)
Ultra-low sheen finishes hide a multitude of sanding sins, you will be pleased to hear. This is a very modern and contemporary finish.
Applying a Raw Effect Lacquer To Your Wood Floors
As for applying the finish, the following information applies to all but Bona Traffic HD Naturale. I will cover the Bona system after.
Blanchon Intensiv Bare Timber
Loba Invisible Protect AT (Amazon Affiliate link)
… I’m blanking on the others now.
The first coat goes down very thick. I estimate roughly 7m² per liter or 75ft² per quart or 300ft² per gallon(US gallon).
Ensure that all windows are closed and there is no draught. If it’s a sunny day and you have light hitting the floor directly, cover those windows up with a towel or something else that will sufficiently block out the light.
You may want to leave window handles open, so you can pull the window open once the coat is done.
It dries very quickly on the first coat (hence the above precautions). It’s important to get the finish down as quickly as possible, without any imperfections.
In order to prevent dry lines, you need to roll the lacquer in lines that are no more than 3 feet wide. Brush the lacquer onto the boards at the edge of the room, at the ends of the boards, and down the side of the room. See Below.
Keep working in strips like this until you have reached the door. Once the coat is down you will find it dries to the touch fairly quickly.
You apply 3 coats of the lacquer. You only need to lightly sand after the second coat, therefore, you don’t need to wait so long before putting on the second coat. Still, I would give it an hour and a half to 2 hours before getting the next coat down.
For the third and final coat, I would give it 4 hours before rubbing it back, maybe 2.5 – 3 hours if you have fans blowing on from immediately after you finished applying the previous coat.
It’s as easy as that!
The great thing about this finish is that it is very convincing. I mean, people really think it’s bare wood! My clients often tell me, after I have applied a finish like this. That they don’t want to walk on it or are afraid of spilling on it, even though it’s finished with 3 coats of a 2 component lacquer. That’s the same level of protection we put on school floors!