Wood Floor Panelization

Using “Cheap” Water Based Finishes on Wood Flooring May Cause Side Bonding of Hardwood Floor Boards

Stringent VOC Regulations Making it Tough on Wood Floor Manufacturers

Floor finish manufacturers have had to continually adapt technologies to keep up with stringent VOC regulations.  This has proven to be a tough challenge with solvent based formulated finishes as well as water based finishes.

Water Based Wood Floor Finishes Gain Huge Market Share

Solvent systems have had to reduce or remove selected solvents and modify polymers, creating more opportunities for water based finishes.  Water based finishes have been in use for decades, but have not found wide acceptance on wood floors until recently.

Biggest Challenge of Water Based Formulations is Preventing Panelization

Water based sealers had not been widely used on wood floors in the past because they could cause side bonding, otherwise known as “panelization”.  The Maple Flooring Manufacturing Association (MFMA) defines panelization as “a condition where localized excessive cracks develop between some strip flooring boards while adjacent boards remain tightly bonded together with no apparent separations”.

Panelization (Side Bonding) Occurs When Two Things Happen:

1) The environment changes significantly, causing individual boards to expand and/or contract;

2) The individual boards are tightly bonded together, causing the floor to move as one large panel.

If either one of these factors is controlled, the floor will not panelize.

Because maintaining constant humidity is impractical, it becomes important that the wood sealer and finish don’t “glue” the boards together.

Frictional Forces and Minimal Bond Strength Are Keys to Side-Bonding Prevention

Traditional “Old School” Oil Modified Urethane Sealers Had a Minimal Bond Strength of 9 lbf/in.

With tongue-and-groove flooring, 9 lbf/in. is in line with the frictional forces required to move a tongue against a groove.

Very Few Water Based Formulations Will Not Panelize Wood

At Scrub n Shine, we generally use water-based, oil-modified wood floor coatings that utilize an acid formulation to disperse its acrylic polymers.  This unique formulation provides optimal adhesion, appearance, slip resistance, scuff resistance and sheen to the top surface of boards, yet has a virtually identical bond strength of old school oil modified formulas of 12lbf/in., helping to prevent panelization.

“Cheap” Floor Finish Buyers Beware 

North Dakota State University’s Test Floor Finish Products

NDSU’s testing of other commercially available water-based wood floor sealers and water-based wood floor finishes, showed side bonding strengths as high as 414 lbf./in.!   At this level of bond strength, your wood floors are MUCH MORE LIKELY to panelize!

Contact us to discuss your situation.  We can help!