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
(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.
Max Bone Decorating Direct Ltd
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.... (?)
On Tue, 19 Aug 2003 21:15:44 +0100, Max Bone
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...
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.
Max Bone Decorating Direct Ltd
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.
Nobody has mentioned 2 part varnish, which combines the benefits of water
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
On Wed, 20 Aug 2003 14:39:55 +0100, "Christian McArdle"
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, 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!
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.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.