Floor Finish Solids Wax Solids

Floor Finish Solids Explained

What Are Floor Finish Solids Anyway?

Floor finish solids are an extremely important part of any floor finish. In fact, the solids are really all that is used after floor finish is applied.

The solids are the plastic or polymer molecules that are left on the floor when you apply finish and can have a big impact on the performance of the finish. The size and make up of these polymer molecules can very from brand to brand and can require different types of maintenance. Chemical liquids such as water, emulsifiers, wetting and leveling agents make up the remainder of the floor finish content. But in the end though, the solids are what make up to protective coating that you rely on. 

If you take types of polymers and the liquids out of the equation and focus on the floor finish solids numbers, the percentage of solids is the usable product left after drying. If you think of it like a glass of water and sand, the sand would represent the solids. So if you take a gallon of 18% floor finish, the solids would represent 23oz of the total 128oz in a gallon. The more solids, the more usable product per gallon.

Higher Percentage Solids Are Better, Right?

Common Sense would say that higher floor finish solids would always be the better purchase, but this is not always true. Just like any mixture of liquid and solids, the more solids, the thicker it gets. If you have ever worked with a high solids (22% or higher) it will usually be quite a bit thicker. Once the solids content goes above 25%  the finish does not want to spread out and level very fast.

Since most finishes are designed to dry quickly, they begin to harden before they have spread out smooth. This can result in uneven gloss, mop swirls and cause very thick patches of finish that take a long time to dry. All of this is because the drying takes longer. Floor finish dries from the top down.

As the liquid evaporates, a film is left on the surface which traps  moisture and keeps the solids from setting up properly. When the liquid is thinner, it spreads out as it is applied and with the additional liquid, it takes longer to dry.

These properties are constantly being tweaked by the floor finish manufactures so more solids can be used, while delaying the drying process until after the product has been applied. With new technologies in polymer science, the higher solids floor finishes are becoming more effective and easier to use.

Choosing The Right Floor Finish

When you are trying to choose a floor finish, it becomes a matter of performance vs. the amount and type of maintenance. Higher solids finishes are more durable but can be difficult to apply and repair with maintenance. Since the polymer density is higher, they can also be more difficult to remove with traditional chemical stripping. This is all variant on the specific finish that is being used.

The best suggestion is to compare finishes yourself and talk to others who have used them. Every application and environment is different as well as the make up of the finish. Choosing the correct percentage of floor finish solids is not as important as proper application and maintenance. The way a product is used is always what determines its success.

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15 replies
  1. Larry Fagan
    Larry Fagan says:

    Great article. Let it be known that solids have absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the floor finish,it only has to do with what percentage of the finish is left behind after the non volatile mater flashes off or evaporates. A lower solid floor finish can often times be a better quality product..many salesmen misrepresent their product by saying my product is better than another’s because it is a higher solid. Remember solid content has nothing to do with the quality only the quantity!

    • BaldGuyClean
      BaldGuyClean says:

      While your last statement is true, a higher solids finish can be a little more finicky to apply. Because more solids can make the finish thicker, it can take longer to level out. In dryer climates it can dry too fast and leave defects in the finish. In cases with high humidity, higher solids finishes can trap moisture between layers if applied to heavy. While I am a fan of higher solids finishes, they do require different use in most situations.

      And you are also correct that many sales people missrepresent their products as being superior due to the percentage of solids. As I always say, I have only worked with a few ‘bad finishes’ over the years. Most will perform just fine with the correct maintenance program.


    • BaldGuyClean
      BaldGuyClean says:

      Hi Tony. Thanks for reading. The solids content does not necessarily affect the shine. Some of the most popular finishes have as little as 18% solids. More coats can result in higher shine, but only to a point. After 3-5 coats, you are only adding additional protection to the floor. The more coats you have, the more maintainable finish you have to work with, but will not increase the shine. Some floor finishes just shine, or reflect light, better than others. Some are softer and scratch more easily, resulting in less light reflected.

    • BaldGuyClean
      BaldGuyClean says:

      Hi Lisa, that is a great question. Most name brand floor sealers and finishes are going to work if they are taken care of properly. Meaning they are swept and cleaned on a regular basis. Here is a floor sealer that I have used in childcare setting with good results.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] I have covered this topic at length in this previous post, let’s recap how floor finish solids […]

  2. […] my last post, I talked about floor finish solids. In this one, I will go over why floor finish shines. Floor finish shine is a result of nothing […]

  3. […] polymers in the world, the manufactures all use similar compounds when blending their finishes. The floor finish solids content only reflects the amount of polymers that are used in the […]

  4. […] my last post, I talked about floor finish solids. In this one, I will go over why floor finish shines. Floor finish shine is a result of nothing […]

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