Water-based varnish - any good for wooden floors?

I bought some "Floor Varnish" from Wickes. Upon opening it. I was startled to note it had virtually no smell. A quick read of the instructions rveals that brushes may be cleaned in warm water and detergent. So I surmise this is a water-based varnish.
Since it is the only floor varnish sold by Wickes (apart from some coloured floor varnishes and a "quick-drying floor varnish"), I assume it must be reasonably good (Wickes have an interest in maintaining a reputation for their products).
Nevertheless, I'd be very interested to hear any opinions any of you have re the pros and cons of water-based varnish for use on pine floorboards. I haven't used any of it, so it's still possible to take it back...
Thanks
Frank
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(I'm assuming here that you only have a clear (uncoloured) varnish...) It very much depends on where its going to be used, the type and level of wear and whether or not your happy with a satin/semi-gloss finish. The resins used in these retail single-pack water-borne formulations are still not as tough as a solvent-borne finish and so they are ok for domestic bedrooms and perhaps living rooms etc.. not easy to decide to use in a hallway... and really not a good choice for the heavy wear experienced in a busy family kitchen.
Some of the less smelly water-borne formulations tend to be a bit dull, not bright and/or clear like a solvent-borne finish, and could be disappointing on a nice timber floor. They is also a tendency for them to leave a slightly scratchy finish when viewed at an angle to the light - although this is mainly due to technique, application tools, not keeping a wet edge going and not working quickly enough.
Depends on what is important to you... Just be aware that if you accept the advise given to you in a previous post to use a solvent-borne stain first, then do make sure that you leave plenty of time before overcoating with a water-borne finish (until all the solvent has evaporated could be quite a bit longer than 72 hours!), otherwise the water-borne will probably siss.
Regards
--
Max Bone Decorating Direct Ltd
http://www.decoratingdirect.co.uk /
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On Tue, 19 Aug 2003 21:15:44 +0100, Max Bone

Max, Thanks for the unput. Yes, it is a clear (eggshell) waterbased varnish that I bought from Wickes. I have decided not to apply any stain to the boards prior to varnishing.
The room is a living room in an upstairs flat. So there won't be any gritty boots walking over the floor, since folks have to walk up a flight of carpeted stairs before entering the room.
I'm probaly just paranoid, but water based varnish doesn't "sound" as hard wearing as spirit-based varnish to me - but I bet it all depesnds on the formulation. As i mentioned previously; I don;t think Wickes would sell the stuff if it was no good.... (?)
Frank
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On Tue, 19 Aug 2003 21:15:44 +0100, Max Bone
PS,
I just read the instructions on the tin of Wickes (water-based) Quik-Drying Floor Varnish. It says that you have to adbrade the penultimate coad with sandpaper before applying the final coat! That little chore is enough to put me off the stuff! (I don't have a power tool that will accomplish that task easily).
On the plus side, the instructions say it doesn't affect the colour of the wood mush, whereas Wickes "Super Tough" floor varnish does "mellow" the colour of the wood... decisions, decisions...
Frank
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Denibbing lightly with a very fine abrasive between coats (making sure that you don't break the coating film), and then tack ragging the surface just before overcoating is good practice with most coatings, particularly on timber where the grain is likely to be raised by the application of coatings. Whatever you eventually choose to apply will require denibbing for a good finish.
It needs to be done by hand... mechanical sanders will break through the coating film with little effort, and orbital sanders will leave marks in any case... you really need to abrade in the direction of the grain.
Water-borne acrylics don't tend to darken timber, and the coating film won't generally discolour with age. Solvent-borne alkyds (oil-based) will darken the timber (and consequently tend to show off the grain better), the coating tends to be a pale yellow straight out of the can, and will continue to yellow with age... although there are some exceptions to those rules.
Regards
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Max Bone Decorating Direct Ltd
http://www.decoratingdirect.co.uk /
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On Wed, 20 Aug 2003 08:30:39 +0100, "Nightdrive"

This is all very helpful. Now I'm inclined to use the water-based stuff, as I hate the look of pine that has turned almost orange after a few years after being coated with spirit-basd varnish.
Thanks also to Max for his help. I do have an orbital sander which I guess should be OK for de-nibbing and keying. Would you agree?
For some reason the instructions on the Wickes tin only advise keying the last-but-one coat. I don't really understand the logic of keying only *one* of several coats... but I guess they must know what they are talking about....
One more question: How many coats is optomal, using water based varnish? The Wickes tin suggests at least three. I am thinking four, since that is how many I can get out of two large cans, according to the coverage specs.
Thanks again
Frank
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On Wed, 20 Aug 2003 11:32:38 +0100, Max Bone

Great advice; Thank you!
Frank
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Nightdrive wrote in message <3f432389$0$18496

based and solvent based. Dries in a couple of hours, very tough, doesn't yellow and, unlike acrylic, is genuinely clear. I use the Rustins version but there are probably others. The Wickes product mentioned sounds like there is some solvent in it to help with film formation. The washing brushes in warm water and detergent usually means it's not 100% water borne.
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On Wed, 20 Aug 2003 09:14:19 +0100, "stuart noble"

Rustin's isn't a two part, it's an acid catalyst. Although there are two cans in the pack, it's not the same isocyanate or epoxy-based chemistries that most people think of as "two pack" paints.
And I won't use anything else on a floor, especially if time is critical.
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P.S. an average 3m x 4m room takes about 5 minutes to rub down with an orbital. It is one of the more pleasurable parts of the job because of its ease and the immediate effect it has on the surface.
Christian.
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The vast majority of floor varnishes are water based now. I suspect the following reasons have played a part in this:
1. Solvent based finishes take so long to dry, that it can be a week before the room can be used. Most people can't afford to live in a hotel, or find places to store furniture for this period.
2. Due to the very large area being applied, the solvent fumes can get very strong, leading to health problems or incapacitation of the painter, particularly if no forced ventilation is used.
3. They aren't really suitable for applying if children use the house, unless you can pack them off on holiday for a month, particularly if they have asthma.
4. The quick drying nature means the floor isn't sitting there tacky for hours on end, attracting dust and dirt to settle and be incorporated into the floor.
Christian.
P.S.
I used Ronseal Diamond Hard Clear Satin. Absolutely excellent stuff. Very pleased with it, but I was well over on the coverage front. I used two large tins of it on one room.
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Who can tell? I think the decision is based on a risk analysis incorporating your own values for your time versus your money and your own intepretation of the likely performance of the alternatives. The stuff does look gorgeous an' all.
Christian.
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One thing is that the instructions recommend brushing and make not mention of rollering. I found the quickest results by rollering to apply and then brushing out the roller blobs with a brush the width of a board. I found this was quicker and less back breaking than brushing alone. Rollering alone would have lead to a very patchy mottled appearance.
Christian.
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On Wed, 20 Aug 2003 14:39:55 +0100, "Christian McArdle"

PS Now that the first coat has dried, it has turned a gorgeous golden-brown! Jaw-droppingly nice! That's a relief because I was beginning to doubt the wisdom of spending all this money and time and effort when I could have had a decent carpet fitted for the same price! I think I'm lucky to have these 104-yr old floorboards that are reasobably untouched by woodworm. I'm glad that I didn't replace them with new ones now. New boards would never have come up this fantastic colour. In fact, I suspect the white wood they use to make floorboards nowadays is a different wood altogether...
Frank
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You should see it after four coats!
Christian.
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Frank, how did you approach sanding the floor? Did you hire the sanders etc to do it yourself, or did you pay someone to do it for you? And have you done it before? Quite fancy doing it myself, however as I've never done it before I'm having visions of me sanding 2 miles towards the core of the planet before I can stop!
Cheers!
Leigh
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I'm not Frank, but I found it fairly easy, but somewhat back breaking. I did have five rooms to complete, so doing a single room would be somewhat easier. The trick is to get the action of lowering the sander timed perfectly with starting it to move. Otherwise, you either can a big hollow, a shattered sanding sheet or have reached the far wall before it bites.
I actually managed the entire house with only 2 shattered sheets. These were right at the end. I suspect it was because this room was the only one that hadn't been floor painted. The floor paint slowed me down no end. With the final room, without the paint I was working too quickly and the sheets overheated. That's my theory, anyway.
Christian.
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