The number of coats of finish does NOT determine how shiny or dull the next coat will be

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Q: In August we had our floors completely sanded, stained (Jacobean) and finished with Fabulon super satin (2 coats). It is an open floor plan with the hardwood laid on a diagonal and we get a lot of light exposure coming into the house.

When we returned to our home after the 2nd coat was dried we noticed some uneven areas. We came to realize the person applying the finish didn’t feel completely comfortable applying finish on a diagonal layout. After speaking with the owner, they advised to do a 3rd coat which they would apply with an 18 inch applicator, instead of the 9 inch they first used. We then asked about applying a duller finish. Thus they agreed to apply Duraseal Matte finish.

After returning back to the house after the 3rd coat, we noticed white spots throughout the house, kind of milky areas (probably not prepared and mixed correctly). Getting back to the floor guy regarding this issue, they said the only solution would be to apply another coat of Fabulon super satin same as the 2 coats. Having no choice they did a 4th coat of Fabulon super satin. Again when returning to our home we noticed some areas that were much lighter and you even see applicator marks in different light settings.

At this point we are consulted with other contractors to fix this problem, knowing full well the previous company wasn’t experienced and comfortable working on a diagonal. We first decided to do some tests with a Bona water base finish (Naturale and the Traffic satin). Naturale is way too dull, and the traffic satin looks OK in daytime, but at night with a little light reflecting in you all most see an ashy white look on both samples. That look at night concerns us, so we aren’t sure water based is a good fit. Contractor has no problem removing the water based test areas and doing a refinish using Fabulon super satin, they are very comfortable working on a diagonal and would apply a thin coat.

Q – If the finish is applied correctly and thinly do we have to worry about the floor being so shiny with 4 coats of oil poly already on the floor? It has been over 2 months when the last coat of oil poly was applied from the 1st floor guy.
Q – Does this contractor just have to do a standard screening and then apply the finish or would it require a heavier screening technique?
Q – As far a the sheen level, is it the top coat that controls the sheen or a combination of all coats on the floor?
Q – Based on our description of the Bona water based tests that were done, does water base appear as an ashy look at night in dim lit settings?

A: The number of coats of finish on a floor does NOT determine how shiny or dull the next coat will be. No matter what, each coat of finish must be screened thoroughly, being careful not to miss any spots which could create an adhesion issue. The issue of seeing applicator stop marks and streaks with finishes below gloss is partly because of the paste added to the product to lessen the shine. In most cases, this paste must be very thoroughly mixed into the finish. An 18″ bar applicator would remove the push and pull exhibited by a lambs wool block. However, with oil based finishes this applicator tends to apply much to heavily. I’ve been using Poloplaz Primero for years and have never had any of these issues with it. As their head sales manager told me years ago, they spent a little extra money in developing this product so the paste would stay largely suspended and require only minimal stirring. Best way to apply it is with a roller. It is wonderful to work with. Application at 500 sq. feet per gallon.

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