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Question:

Looking for a no-skid/low-skid floor wax for my red oak floor. It had been available from a manufacturer previously but no more. I want a dark color wax also for this floor. Any ideas or leads?

Thanks.

Answer:

Dear Tom

Yes, I fear that paste waxes are going the way of the Dodo bird, it's too bad. But I always have a gallon or two of liquid floor paste wax on hand in case I have a floor job that is a simple restoration instead of the regular re-sand job. But I clean all my waxed floors once a year with a nylon scrub pad and odorless mineral spirits (ODM), and blot up the wax laden solvent before it dries with paper towels. Then there is no wax build up that could make the floor slippery. And I let the solvent dry overnight, before re-waxing. Thin, clear coats of wax are best.

As to products; I use the Bruce brand Lite n Natural, and for darker floors you could use Dark n Rich. But to tell you the truth, I have not found that this darker wax has any benefit in coloring in some deep scratches (to the bare wood) on a darkly stained floor. Don't bother with the One Step product (a water based acrylic polish) or the Clean N Strip (mostly ODM with an added perfume). I have never found Bruce's liquid past wax to be slippery, but like I said, I only apply a thin coat to a freshly cleaned floor. You can buy this stuff at most hardware stores still, but it's available though the internet, and here's one place that sells these products http://www.florstor.com/WaxFinishes.html

Also Dura Seal makes an almost identical pair of liquid floor waxes, but it may be harder to find locally. So instead I'll give you their corporate web site. Call them for a local distributor. http://www.duraseal.com/sections/products/mb/flo-wax.htm

Then as we go down the choices there is still the old fashioned paste wax in the tins, and blue label was a fairly famous one. It's now readily available though Lee Valley tools http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.asp?SID=&ccurrency=1&page=20091&category= 1,190,42950

While more difficult to use on floors, a golf ball scoop of this wax is placed in cheese cloth and squeezed and spread THINLY across the floor, left to dry and buffed to a satin sheen with a natural bristle buffer attachment on a good floor maintenance machine. But even this wax with an addition of ODM to thin it out makes for a good version of a liquid paste wax. And the liquid version is a whole lot easier to apply to a large area like a floor.

And lastly you can make your own. But this will certainly be the most expensive way to go.

I pound carnauba

1/2 pound of beeswax

125 ml of ODM or as much as 2 L if you were to make a liquid version of this

You can add some earth pigments, and as long as you don't over do it, you should be able to create a custom dark wax that will help color in those light colored scratches. Go to Lee Valley again for these at http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.asp?SID=&ccurrency=1&page=20084&category= 1,190,42996

Use a double boiler, OUTSIDE on an ELECTRIC hot plate (with a fire extinguisher near) and melt the wax on the double boiler and remove from the stove. Or better yet use a hide glue melting pot. Slowly add the amount of solvent you want and let it cool and thicken. You most likely know the consistency of tinned paste wax, but liquid paste wax should be about the consistency of semi melted butter, in warm weather.

You can change the hardness of the wax, buy using a different combination of these two waxes. Carnauba (really expensive) will be less slippery as it's melting point is quite high 185 F, whereas Beeswax melts at 150 F, but should be far cheaper. You can also mix in paraffin (low melting soft wax), Ceresine (high and hard) Candelilla (low and soft), Moutan wax (high and hard), and Micro-crystalline which provides good penetration. There is also Japan wax from the Japanese sumac tree which melts quite low (125 F) and so would make the harder waxes more flexible in a blend.

But don't try a thick coat of a really hard wax, or else it will streak when it hazes, and you will find that it will be almost impossible to get the streaks out by buffing. You will have to use the solvent and steel wool to even it out. The key to successful floor waxing is a really clean well finished wood surface. A thin coat of wax is applied and left to "haze". And finally a buffing with a natural bristle buffing wheel on a larger professional floor maintenance machine. Here's a picture of the bristle wheel.

You may also find these articles helpful:

1. Floor Types And Finishes

2. Plank Floor: What Special Considerations This Type Of Floor Raises

3. Orbital Floor Sander

4. Laquer Finish Floor Fires

5. How To Take Care Of Your Health And Safety when Installing, Finishing, Repairing or Cleaning your wood floors