One of the biggest hassles in traditional hardwood floor sanding and refinishing is having to wait for the finish to dry and cure before being able to get back on your floor. Let’s face it – you want your life to get back to normal as soon as possible and that means being able to replace your furniture and walk on your floors as soon as you can.
Before we get into all the details and benefits of a UV cured floor finish system, let’s talk about why such a system is needed.
First though, when it comes to floors being ready to use after the refinishing process, most people get confused by the terms ‘dry time’ and ‘cure time’ so I’ll quickly explain each below…
Dry Time Vs Cure Time
Dry time is simply the amount of time it takes for the finish to be dry to the touch so it’s able to be carefully walked on. Cure time is completely different though.
Cure time is the length of time ti takes for all of the solvents or liquid carriers to evaporate from the finish, for the fumes and smell to stop being emitted and fro the finish to fully harden. It is an important part of the finishing process because once a floor has fully cured it can be subjected to long-term normal wear and tear without you having to worry excessively about damaging it.
For more common traditional finishes used in Detroit like water-based and oil modified, the cure time can be anywhere from 7 days all the way past a month. There are many factors that speed up or slow down the curing time including the type of finish system, the temperature, air flow and humidity levels. Some of these can be controlled and some can’t.
A long curing period means you will need to wait for an extended period before replacing large heavy furniture, floor coverings and rugs. It also means that you will need to be extra careful putting smaller pieces of furniture back as well as being careful in how you use your floors during this time so they don’t sustain any premature damage or wear.
It can be quite the hassle tip toeing around your hardwood floors for weeks on end as you wait for your floors to cure and harden to their 100% strength.
The Unspoken Danger of a Long cure Time
There’s another issue that comes with a long cure time too. As mentioned above, the curing process involves releasing all of the solvents and fumes from the finish. The agents that are released are called VOCs or volatile organic compounds. These solvents and chemicals being emitted from the curing finish are what causes the horrible fumes and smell, especially if you have used an oil based finish.
As you can imagine, VOCs are not good things to be around and breathe in, especially if you’re pregnant or have young children. They’re also dangerous and can be lethal for your pets. The longer your finish takes to cure, the longer you will be subjected to these nasty VOCs.
Cure Time on Commercial Projects
Long cure times are also a major inconvenience for builders, restaurant owners and commercial property manager that need to have hardwood floors refinished as quickly as possible.
Take a restaurant that has badly worn floors for example. Most restaurants are open 7 days a week and don’t have the option of closing down for multiple days in a row as they complete renovations and wait for floors to dry and cure. To do so would result in a huge loss of income. They also can’t have finishes off gassing harmful VOCs for weeks or even days on end. I’m sure nobody would stick around to order a meal in a restaurant that was full of smelly fumes. I know I wouldn’t.
The same concerns come up with commercial retail stores, malls, doctor’s offices and other areas that have customers and clientele come through regularly.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a finish that could cure super-fast so you could completely skip past the long waiting period for it to gain its complete strength, plus… not have any VOCs after it was quickly cured?
Well now there is and that’s where UV cured finishes come into the picture. In Part 2 of this article we’ll go into detail about them and show you how they could make your hardwood floor refinishing project far easier and quicker.