Prefinished Surface Options
Prefinished flooring has gained immense popularity in the past decade or so. Leading this group is another newcomer to the surface finish family: the aluminum oxide finish. Those of you who are avid DIYers might recognize aluminum oxide as a type of sandpaper. The aluminum oxide used here is the same compound; it’s just processed differently. In aluminum oxide floor finishes, the aluminum oxide is ground into a very fine powder: not the coarse grains that are used in sandpaper. This powder is blended with the urethane and applied in many thin coats. The number of coats and the exact formulation of urethane will dictate its overall durability. I have seen durability test data range by factors of 4 to 5 for various versions of aluminum oxide finishes. When considering this finish for your pre-finished flooring product, feedback from other installations will ensure that the product you choose will stand the test of time.
Ceramic finishes are another new prefinished option and are very much like the aluminum oxide finishes, as they have ultra-fine particles of ceramic blended into the resins. These durable solids add excellent wear resistance and are economical options for many manufacturers.
Acrylic urethanes and acrylic impregnated woods are another prefinished option. These are similar to the polyurethanes in their resistance to wear, water and other spills. Some flooring manufacturers use UV-cured polyurethanes as their finish of choice; the high intensity UV light speeds the curing process and can result in faster and more efficient production.
These finishes that are factory applied are very durable, and unfortunately are not available for refinish work in the home. Drying ovens, UV chambers and production spray equipment are tools that flooring manufacturers use to get superior results. Field finish work is rarely sprayed and is therefore subject to minor imperfections.