When it comes to floor finish, by far the most wide-spread issue people have is “yellowing.” The bad news is that there are several reasons floor finish yellows, or becomes discolored. Because of the variety of causes, getting to the root of the issue can take some evaluation of processes and products. The good news though, for most of these, the solution is fairly simple. But you must first diagnose the cause.
Nothing is more frustrating than spending time, money and effort of the refinishing process and the floor finish yellows. In spite of the amount of work you put into cleaning a floor, all it takes is one flawed step in the process to ruin or at least set back your efforts.
Why Floors Used To Yellow
Before we get to the modern-day causes for yellowing floors, first let me explain where this term originally came from. When floor finishes were first introduced, the products were not the pure white color they are today. The ingredients and compounds that were used, they had a yellow tint to them right out of the container. After several coats, a light color tile floor would have an overall darker look. This is one of the major reason that floors were stripped more often, so that this discoloration would not continue.
Obviously there were other reasons to refinish floors more often. Cleaning chemicals and equipment as well as maintenance procedures had not evolved to the level they are today. This lead to dirtier floors that in turn, made it necessary to strip them as well.
But in short, it was just the nature of the floor finish product of the time.
Why Floor Finish Yellows Today
Fast forward to today. Floor finish products have evolved and for the most part, they dry clear to the naked eye and don’t contribute to a floor yellowing. Although there are still floor finishes on the market that still have that yellow or amber tint to them.
A good way to determine if this is the case is to pour a little of the product into a white styrofoam cup and it will be pretty obvious what the true color of the finish is. But lets assume that you are using a modern, clear floor finish.
4 Main Reasons That Floor Finish Yellows
Over the years, I have run across many discolored floors. While there seems to always be exceptions to the rule, here are the 4 main reasons that I have seen floors and finish turn yellow and discolor. Notice these all have to do with attracting dirt!
#1 – Sloppy Refinishing
The most common reason floor finish yellows is a poor refinishing job. If the floor stripper is not neutralized and/or completely removed, it will soften the new finish when you apply it. Soft finish will allow dirt to stick to it and become embedded. Over a very short period of time, the dirt will build up and discolor the floor.
Unfortunately, the only fail proof solution to this is to re-strip the floor and make sure that the proper steps are taken to prep the floor for new finish. Sorry, this is not one of the causes that have a simple solution. This is why it is so important to do the stripping job right the first time.
#2 – Too Much Floor Cleaner or The Wrong Floor Cleaner
Another very common cause for a floor to yellow of become discolored is too much cleaning chemical.