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July 2013

June 2013

The Importance of the wet finger test!

Bare wood - no matter if it is a new floor or a sanded down one - looks quite pale, dull even. Applying a finish - any natural finish - will bring out the wood-species natural colouring, which can be rather different than its pale beginnings.

Surprise, surprise!

This week we received a phone call from a lady, who had bought and installed reclaimed Oak wood-blocks. After sanding the floor down she'd used a tester pot of Osmo HardWaxOil and was very surprised to see her Oak floor turn pinky.

She had been expecting a warm honey colour, the typical characteristic colouring of Oak:

Oak after it receive a natural finish 

But instead her "Oak" floor showed a pink tone:

Red Oak, after it received a natural finish, looks pinkier than Oak Beech - unsteamed - with a natural finish will not look like Oak

(example 1: American Red Oak, Example 2: Beech - which belongs to the same family as Oak

When I asked her to do the "wet finger" test on a bare area of the wood floor the result was again a pinky tone, and not as she had hoped the typical Oak colour.

The result of this simple and oh so effective test told me the wood-species was something different than Oak. But it had been sold to here as Oak, she told me. Well, American Red Oak is Oak, although I'm not even sure the seller had known the difference him or her self, because as said in the beginning of this article: bare wood of different species can look pretty much alike, especially if the grain structure is rather the same.

The lady in question felt rather disappointed ("bummer" was the word she used after discovering the result of the wet finger test) and didn't really know what to do next, perhaps she will stain it an Oak colour now.

The importance of the wet finger test!

The importance of the wet finger test on bare wood

Especially when you are in the market for reclaimed wood blocks, no matter if it is on offer on Ebay, in a local shop or reclamation yard, you'll have to be sure the wood-species are as claimed.

Two simple tools you have to have with you: one finger and a piece of sanding paper.

  • For bare wood blocks: simply wet your finger and place this on the block(s). This will show you its natural colour after you applied a natural finish and could prevent disappointment afterwards. (After you bought the lot, cleaned of the bitumen, glued down your pattern, sanded the floor smooth and level and applied your natural finish - only to make the same discovery as the lady who'd called us in a panic!)
  • For "finished" blocks: use the sand paper to clear off the finish of part of the block, then do the wet finger test. The finish could be a stain, disguising the original species.

Also use the sand paper if an apparent bare block doesn't change in colour after the wet finger test - a sure sign there is a finish on the block.

(On Ebay it could be a bit difficult doing these tests, best is always to have a sample send out to you).

Know the result before you start

 As you can see, it is really simple to know the result of any natural finish applied to bare (sanded) wood long before you start all the hard work: use the "wet finger" test and never be surprised again!


3 Myths on Maintenance

On the subject of maintaining your wooden floor, we receive plenty of questions (by email or over the phone) from many wooden floor owners. Some are straightforward, others we have to do some "de-mything" work.

Myth 1: Lacquer floors don't need maintenance?

Yes, they do! A varnish or lacquer finish on a wooden floor is in fact a very thin film on top of it. If this thin layer is damaged - by whatever means - the wood is no longer protected against dirt and drips and can show dark, black spots when the floor doesn't receive regular maintenance. This maintenance also keeps the finish layer stronger, plus "fills" small scratches.
In the event your wooden floor is riddled with scratches, sanding down is the only solution to restore it to its previous glory.

 Myth 2: oiled floors need re-oiling every year?

No, they don't! An oiled floor only ever needs re-oiling when - if ever! - you sand it down to the (almost) bare wood.
What an oiled floor does need - and varnished/lacquer floors too, see above - is regular maintenance with a polish or a wax. The advantage of an oil floor is that, when treated regular, it will become even more beautiful over time, plus it will keep the wood protected against almost everything you can throw at it. Ths products are none-slippery on their own, just be aware that too much applied will not be all absorbed by your floor and can make the floor - temporarily - slippery.

Myth 3: maintenance is cumbersome!

buffing blockNo, absolutely not! Especially with the modern maintenance products it takes only a few minutes to treat your floor to its "beauty regime", one product even comes is a spray - now how easy is that?
But even is you prefer to buff your floor after you've applied old-fashion wax there is a very handy and ecological tool which can help you to make light work of it: our cast-iron buffing block. It weights 7 kg and will do the hard work for you, all you have to do is push and pull - standing upright, no longer on your hands and knees.

Believe me, maintaining your floor is as easy as hovering or sweeping it regularly. For more tips and advice on maintenance, why not request our maintenance leaflet - we are in the process of creating The Ultmate Maintenance Guide which will go even deeper into the subject -but this leaflet tells you how easy it really is.