Many customers complain that the surfaces of some floors feel like plastic. Obviously, composite floors are made of wooden materials. So why do they feel so, so, so much like plastic?
The different feel of floors is often due to various paint coatings that are used for different purposes. For example, although sealed floor coating feels much like plastic, it is very popular for commercial use.
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Painted coatings are not a product of modern technology. As far back as the Neolithic Age in ancient China, people were using wooden lacquerware made from raw lacquer cut from the lacquer tree. It gradually developed into an advanced artistic craft that reached a high level, particularly in Japan. In the traditional wood products industry, there’s a saying: “three parts woodwork and seven parts paint,” which indicates the vital role of the paint coating of ancient wooden products. The UV lacquer applied to wooden floors is a series of complex polymer solutions comprising a primer lacquer and a finishing lacquer. Wood normally needs more than ten layers in total. These multiple layers of lacquer endow the floor with different qualities such as color, glossiness, crack resistance, elasticity, resistance to abrasion, waterproofing, high adhesion, etc. Around 11 to 13 layers of lacquer are applied to seal the surface of wooden floors with a thick layer of polymer film that protects from moisture, abrasion, and dust. Coatings also substantially prolong a product’s service life. Therefore, it is perfect in commercial settings such as automobile exhibitions, luxury stores, restaurants, etc. However, the thick film of protective lacquer inevitably smothers up the subtle nuances that would traditionally attract lovers of natural wood to use as a flooring material in their houses.
Unlike varnish and lacquers, natural oil or hard wax oil retains the natural warm touch of wooden floors. Usually applied by wiping or rubbing into the wood, the oil coating penetrates the tiny pores. It allows the wood to breathe naturally, thus maintaining its elasticity and its reassuring touch. Rather than forming an impenetrable film on the surface, the oil bonds with the cell walls of the wood, making the surface solid and less likely to crack, curl up or peel off at the same time. As the oils are themselves plant-based substances, they don’t contain any harmful chemical components, such as phenol, formaldehyde, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and heavy metals, commonly found in interior decorating materials. It is a natural and environmentally-friendly paint widely used in developed countries and regions in Europe and America. However, traditional synthetic resin coatings leave the surface less resistant to wear, easier to scratch or crush, and, therefore, unsuitable for use in public places.
In addition to the two coatings mentioned above, there’s another coating technology called Open Pore. Five to seven layers of UV Oil with lower solid content are applied to the surface of the wood to expose the grain. This method not only avoids the plastic feel of UV lacquer but also protects the floor. As this coating can clearly bring out the patterns in the wood grain, especially the V-shaped pattern on the tangential section in a ring-porous wood (a kind of hardwood characterized by the distribution of pores in an annual ring), it is commonly used on oak, ash, elm, and other wood species with obvious grain. Open-pore floors are currently quite popular in Japan and Australia.
Different coating processes are aimed at different use cases. Knowing this, flooring importers can request the manufacturer to use specified coating methods to produce floors aimed at different target markets.
John Ge——–Your Engineered Timber Flooring Specialist
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