Wax Wood Floor Finishes

Wax Wood Floor Finishes

Information on the properties of wax for finishing and the advantages and disadvantages of wax wood floor finishes.

Craftsman Style

¶ The wax-finished surface has a beauty all its own, although it cannot really be said that it reproduces the effect of a hand - rubbed varnish finish. Like most finishes, it has its advantages and some disadvantages. To make the most of this finish, therefore, the finisher should acquaint himself with the characteristics of this material and its actions under common circumstances.

Artisan's Furniture Waxing Kit

Artisan's Furniture Waxing Kit.

Specially formulated waxes clean and protect your fine wood furnishings and surfaces. Kit includes Briwax, wax polish, furniture reviver, and pine brush.

¶ Wax is a fatty, solid substance of animal, vegetable or mineral origin. It sets rather quickly as commonly used, will take a hard finish or polish by friction, but never gets really dry like varnish and paint. A number of waxes are in common use in the paint and varnish industry and each has its own characteristics. Some dry with a harder, tougher surface than others and some are light in color, while others are quite dark. The most common waxes are beeswax, light and dark, paraffin wax, carnauba, ceresine and spermaceti. Beeswax is most used because it is abundant and is not very expensive. Paraffine or para wax is a petroleum product which is also abundant and moderate in cost, but it is a bit too soft. Its white color, however makes it very valuable for light gray wax finishes upon which other waxes could not be used without discoloring the finish. Carnauba is a much better wax than either of those, but it is not generally carried in stock by paint supply houses. It is largely used by manufacturers. It has a higher melting point (185 degrees) and is more expensive than beeswax and paraffin. Carnauba wax is also called Brazil wax because it is a product of the Brazilian wax-palm tree. It is hard and white in color. Japanese wax is sometimes called ozocerite and is obtained from the fruit of a tree. It is used for making candles in Japan. Chinese wax is very similar and is secured from the twigs of the Chinese ash tree upon which it is secreted by an insect.

¶ Concerning the merits of the wax finish as compared with other finishes it must be noted that, while it makes an artistic finish which harmonizes well with other surfaces in an interior decorative scheme, it is not really a durable finish. This very fact is considered an advantage, however, since it can readily be renewed without stripping off the old finish. When a waxed surface is properly built up it is a fairly durable one if anything like regular attention is given to its upkeep. Consider the waxed floor, for instance. It is very durable or not durable at all depending upon how it is done. If the floor is filled and stained in one operation and then waxed, it will not be a satisfactory finish unless rewaxed very often and unless it is in a family where the traffic is not heavy. If, however, the floor is first stained, using a penetrating water stain, is then filled and waxed with at least two good coats, each one allowed to dry two days and polished to a hard finish a durable surface is gained. And if two or three coats of varnish are put on before the wax and on top of the filler a very durable finish is secured.

¶ When regular waxing is done every week or two or three, depending upon the amount of traffic, some prefer the job without varnish because the floor is not so slippery and if the finish is worn through near the doors it is easy to build it up to the original finish and match these spots perfectly. The penetrating stain holds the color in the wood.

¶ If a varnished floor is neglected to the point where the traffic wears through the varnish to the bare wood it takes a skLQful finisher, indeed, to coat with blended, colored shellacs to make a touch-up match. If there was no stain coat before the filler it is very difficult to match up bare spots which are worn and discolored.

¶ Wax will not withstand water. Hence a damp floor or one which is washed with water is no place for a wax finish. A waxed floor can, however, be wiped up with a damp cloth which will not turn the wax white like an excess of water, Waxed floors should be cleaned with a dry dust mop or one slightly moistened with paraffin oil or liquid wax, never linseed oil.

¶ A floor which is warm from being over a furnace or boiler is no place for wax because it remains fairly soft and picks up dirt. To give good service from the standpoint of cleaning and appearance as well, wax must be polished by friction to a high gloss and that can only be, done when it is not warmer than the normal 70 degrees.

¶ Wax makes an impossible foundation on a surface that is to be painted, enameled or varnished. No materials like these will remain long if even a trace of a wax film remains on the surface. Therefore surfaces to be finished with these materials, especially waxed floors which are to be revarrdshed, should be cleaned thoroughly first by scrubbing with warm water containing sal soda or any good washing powder. Then it ought to be sandpapered, cleaned up free from dust and washed with benzole, benzine or turpentine.

¶ Some object to varnishing a floor which is to be finished with wax on the theory that the varnish makes the polished wax more slippery than if the finish consists of nothing but stain, filler and wax. There is some truth in this, but when the two finishes are highly polished one is about as slippery as the other.

¶ On standing wood trim one coat of wax is commonly considered enough, but there is no doubt that two coats give a deeper lustre and more beautiful finish.

¶ Wax should be applied with a soft cloth or with one of the soft mops made especially for that purpose. Then it may be rubbed over with a dry, soft cloth to polish, or a short-bristled, weighted brush will do the polishing much more easily. The electric polishing machines with revolving brushes are wonderful labor savers and they produce a harder finish, which means a more durable one, than can be done by hand polishing. Note Picture 21, One pound of paste wax of the ordinary consistency will cover about 125 square feet, one coat.

Wax Polishing and Scrubbing Machines
Picture 21. Wax Polishing and Scrubbing Machines. They Do Rapid and High Class Work.

¶ Wax may be colored to suit, especially paraffin wax, by adding to it colors ground in japan and thinned with turpentine. Color ground in oil, if used, should first be thinned with benzine and allowed to stand over night to let the oil come to the top. Pour off the oil and mix the color pigment with turpentine before adding to the wax.

Next Page: How to Make Wax Formulas.

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This is Wax Wood Floor Finishes.

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