How scratch resistant is your floor?


Customers often ask how scratch resistant our floors are. This is really a tough question to answer because to my knowledge there is no laymans measurement for scratch resistance. I could get into some technical jargon on the measurements a lab uses to indicate scratch and abrasion resistance, but it wouldn’t do any good since there is no basis for comparison.

Instead, let’s focus on reality and expectations. Part of my job in installing floor finishes is creating a floor that compliments the intended use for the space and the surrounding décor. The other part is taking into consideration the budget, the volume and types of traffic the floor will see, and the maintenance routine the owners plan to adhere to. This will ultimately determine what the final finish will be.

At first glance a high gloss floor gives the impression of a clean and well kept space. But it’s not just an impression, it’s the truth. Maintaining a floor to a high gloss finish requires a high frequency maintenance program to include daily dust mopping and wet mopping. A weekly high speed burnish, and a monthly re-application of acrylic floor finish. This is because no flooring material or coating is durable enough to withstand the abrasion resulting from foot traffic grinding debris into the floor. Over time, this action creates micro abrasion that dulls the gloss of the surface. Unless you are a property owner willing to deal with the expense of such a maintenance program, a high gloss option probably isn’t for you. The end result is money spent on maintenance increasing the cost of the floor in the long term. As a business owner, we often look at the life cycle cost for any purchase made, and maintenance can be a huge factor in that cost. Sometimes it makes sense to spend more now, to save even more in the long term. For example, the 10 year cost for vinyl composition tile (VCT) is approximately $16/sqft as reported by facilities managers, which is 2-3 times the cost of our floors in the same time frame. And quite frankly, VCT is purely functional and has no decorative appeal.

Many of our flooring systems require the use of epoxy primers and binders, but seldom ever do we install a floor leaving epoxy as a topcoat. This is because as durable as epoxy is, it is more prone to abrasion than any other finish. Our recommended finish of choice you will hear us refer to is a “high wear urethane”. Urethane chemistry is far superior to epoxy in terms of hardness and chemical resistance, and makes an excellent coating for protecting a floor against stains, scratches, and abrasion. Regardless, urethanes are still subject to wear as any other material is.

Enter the “high wear urethane”. High wear urethane is one of the most significant advances in floor coatings in the past several decades. It’s high wear properties ensure you will not get any micro abrasion or traffic wear patterns, and is extremely scratch resistant. It is the ultimate in a maintenance free floor finish. This particular coating is formulated first with a high solids content, unlike the urethanes of yesteryear that have extremely high VOC levels. As well, this means a thicker product is on the floor once it cures. Additionally, a micronized aluminum oxide grit is added to the urethane. This increases the friction coefficient of the coating for added slip resistance and provides body to the coating to inhibit abrasion and scratches. This means in order for the floor to scratch, a material harder than aluminum oxide must be used, which is not common with ordinary dirt and debris. This coating however does have a satin finish. In my opinion, a satin finish lends to a more natural look. And rest assured a satin finish will never wear into a high gloss floor, where as the opposite is most certainly true.

So on your next flooring project, when we are pushing for a ”high wear urethane”, it’s because we know that it really is that important. Important for you to keep your maintenance costs down, and important for us knowing that our work will still look terrific even 10 years from now.

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