wooden floor finishing

Once a floor has been completely sanded it is extremely porous & requires finishing with lacquer (varnish), painting or oil. This is the moment to apply stain if a colour or tonal change. Lacquer is the most practical, attractive & hard wearing, way to finish a floor & necessitates the least maintenance all round. Most lacquers are available in varying levels of 'sheen' typically Matt, Satin and Gloss.


Lacquer functions by sealing the 'pores' of the wood (the first coat), with each subsequent coat building up another layer of wear resistance whilst at the same time 'lifting' and making more attractive the tone of the wood. Modern water based lacquers tend not to darken or give such an 'orange' tone to Victorian pine as the old fashioned polyurethane, solvent based lacquers.

Between each coat of lacquer a careful 'key - sanding' or 'de-nibbing' is carried out, either manually or mechanically. This is a fine surface sanding, followed by a careful vacuuming, that ensures an optimum 'prickle' free final finish to the floor.

We only use professional quality, environmentally friendly, water based lacquers such as Bona, Jenkins & Ronseal. These are designed to be used in high traffic situations & are known in the trade as '2-pack' in that they function with a catalyzer additive which serves to further harden the surface as the finish dries.
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staining / colour change

Staining can function in different ways, it could be just that you have a few tonally 'stray' boards in an otherwise even old Victorian floor and feel loathe to rip out and replace with reclaim. In this case, for example,, an Antique Pine wood stain can be carefully diluted to the correct tone and applied to these boards to help blend them in with the rest of the floor prior to lacquering.

If a floor has a extensive tonal variation and is a hotch-potch of different aged wood or has suffered from a flood in the past (that can leave lifeless, grey areas even after sanding) it may be wiser to use a stain all over as a way of homogenizing the entire surface.

Staining is also used purely aesthetically, that is as a means of completely re-styling your floor so that it fits with your other interior plans, matches your sofa, looks good under your rugs and so on.
In these situations, we can advise and carry out colour/tonal test palette areas directly onto your floor to help you decide on the best option for your home.

We use high quality methyl alcohol based stains which have the advantage of being extremely stable, light-fast & easy to dilute. Furthermore, they don't raise and swell the grain of the wood like water based stains do, nor do they take forever to dry. The don't cause foul odors like oil based stains which are often environmentally toxic and need diluting with turpentine/white spirit.
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An attractive alternative to a lacquered finish - this look is becoming more popular since Farrow & Ball made their entire colour chart available in a tough eggshell finish floor paint.

Floors still need to be repaired and sanded to provide a proper 'key' for the floor paint. This is typically two coats of primer and two coats of Farrow & Ball, 'de-knibbing' between coats for the optimum finish.

Although these paints are modern, low VOC (volatile organic compounds) they are still solvent based and as such there is some odor and a substantially increased drying time between coats. It can be up to 18 hours for the final two coats so a little increased planning is involved.
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We do not recommend oil finishes in domestic scenarios because, like wax, oil eventually soaks or 'migrates' from the surface deep into the wood leaving the surface dry & vulnerable. This then needs to be re-oiled periodically, depending on the type of wood, atmospheric conditions and level of traffic, this could be as much as 2 or 3 times a year.

In certain situations - restaurants , bars, large open spaces that can be emptied easily, an oiled finish can work - but a higher level of maintenance and periodic re-oiling must always be factored-in.
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Lacquer freshly applied

Hard wearing lacquer for high traffic areas

Sample floor stains

'Ebonized' stain



Farrow & Ball floor paints

Painted floor