The Light is Out; the Wait is Over

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear UV cured? You probably think of the different ways UV is used in industries such as dentistry, graphic arts, automotive, and prefinished flooring. UV (ultraviolet) finish also has been used for site finished floors for quite some time now. But, it seems that the process has become much more popular as of late. One of the reasons I believe that it is gaining popularity is due to the ever increasing demand for things to be done instantaneously. People have a tendency to want things done immediately and this gives them an opportunity to put their homes back together sooner. Let’s take a look at the UV finish process.

THE SALE
When I bring up UV finish to customers, most have limited knowledge that you can do this on a hardwood floor. This is a great opportunity to inform them of the various ways UV is used in many different day-to-day applications such as in dentistry, at nail salons, and within the automotive and paper industries. By bringing up the different ways UV is commonly used, customers are able to relate to the benefits of UV applications. When also considering the limited waiting time of using UV, this can help customers recognize the value of this finish for their floors.

FLOOR PREP
Preparing a hardwood floor for application of UV finish is not any different from what you would normally do for a single or two-component water-based finish. Always remember to check with the manufacturer as to what they recommend. Some may vary slightly, but for the most part, they are very consistent with that of a single or two-component finish.

THE MOISTURE TEST
Before you apply any finish, you will want to take a moisture reading of the wood floor in a couple of areas. You will want to use a pinless moisture meter for this application. Make sure the areas being tested are attainable without having to walk on the finish because the UV finish is very soft until the lights come in contact with it. The reason you want to test the finish is the UV machine generates a lot of heat, and you need to make sure that the moisture is out of the finish. If the moisture is not out of the finish, it will blister due to moisture becoming trapped under the film finish. If there is any moisture, it’s going to be released by finding a way to escape via a blister.

THE APPLICATION
Applying a UV finish is not any different from applying a normal single component water-based finish. You can roll, T-bar, or even pad on the finish. Once again, always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions on how they recommend applying the product, coverage rates, and dry times.

THE PROTECTIVE GEAR
Because we are using a machine that produces a lot of UV rays, you will want to protect yourself properly. If you have any exposed skin, make sure you cover it up. I personally don’t like to wear standard clothing as protection. I prefer to suit up with a Tyvek suit, leather gloves, and a clear flexible visor that deflect the UV rays off my face. Sometimes, I will even wear UV protection sunglasses underneath the visor. I don’t want to expose my skin to any unnecessary UV rays.

THE LIGHT SHOW
The finish has now dried, and you now need to take moisture readings in the same locations and with the same meter that you did for your original testing. Your results should be the same moisture level as the original reading. Next, it is time to cure the finish with the UV machine. Use a handheld machine for areas such as toe kicks, around spindles, and other areas that are hard to reach with the walk-behind machine. You will want to make sure that you are traveling at the correct feet per minute that the manufacturer states on the finish container so that the finish is fully cured. Going too fast will leave your customer with a softer finish; going too slow will blister the finish.

THE TROUBLESHOOTING
Despite your best attempt to create a flawless floor, you may need to do some troubleshooting to complete the job. Let’s say your cord got caught, you had too much moisture under the finish, or you went too slow and blistered the finish. One of the benefits of the UV finish is the ability to make seamless repairs. To fix a blistered area, use the same abrasive used prior for intercoat abbrating. Lightly blend the edges of the blistered area, and then use a chip brush or foam brush to apply more finish to the area. Let the finish dry and cure it with either a handheld or UV machine.

As you can see, the UV process is not vastly different from other hardwood flooring applications. What does set it apart is the speed in which customers can return their belongings and begin to enjoy their new hardwood floors. Once your customer “sees the light,” the wait for beautiful hardwood floors is over.

Aaron Schaalma is with Signature Custom Flooring LLC in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. He can be reached at aaron@signaturecustomflooring.com.

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