Would turpentine peel floor finish?

Q: I run a painting business and have several times used mineral turpentine to clean paint off wood floors with no problem occurring. We’ve recently been blamed for a water-based floor sealer peeling off in a small area, even though it was used throughout the whole flooring. I was wondering if the mineral turps could’ve been the cause of this?

A: It would cause a problem if any residue was left and then they applied a coat of waterborne urethane over top. Those finishes don’t mix with solvents and turps has pine resin in it. If you are using acrylic latex paint why don’t you wipe up any spray with a cloth dampened with warm water?

Follow-up Q: The flooring contractor was in before us and did these coats before we commenced painting. Once we had finished using Aquanamel Gloss we used Mineral Turpentine to clean it off any spots of gloss. Wetting a cloth with water is much harder to clean gloss off. No mineral turps was spilled or left on the floor while cleaning it. We damp cloth then clean it off and we don’t use a lot of it either.

Would the turps be the cause of the water based floor sealer to peel off?

A: Interesting. Whatever happened with the floor, the floor guy and the finish applications occurred before you even started your work. I know of no reason to believe a bit of turps or mineral spirits dampening a rag would cause any finish to peel. It’s not like it is paint and varnish stripper. In that case it has a different look than peeling finish.

Whether it is waterborne or solvent based it is still a urethane coating. The chemical makeup and solvents used to carry the finish are different. Instead of mineral spirits, water born has a small amount of water and some other rapidly evaporating chemicals with names too long for me to pronounce. But in the end, the film left is basically the same. With waterborne coatings, typically another coat can be applied if it is done so within “X” number of hours of the last coat drying. Otherwise, like any other urethane, it would have to be buffed to scratch the finish and gain a mechanical bond. If there was any contamination on the floor it could cause peeling. If preparation was not adequate to gain a bond, the same result would happen.

I don’t think this can be put on you, but there is one sure way to know if the situation gets very tense. Request a small amount of the finish used. Read the jug label for application. Get a board. Any board, it doesn’t really matter. You are testing the finish, not the wood. Apply 2 or 3 coats as recommended on the jug. If it says there is no need to buff between coats if applied within so many hours then don’t buff it. When all this is done and the finish dry, dampen a cloth with turps and see if it makes the finish peel.

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