Maintain Your Antique Terracotta Floor
Antique Terracotta Floors that have been properly installed and initially oiled with a naturally hardening linseed or tung oil based sealer can receive a variety of finishes, ranging from natural softto emulsified hard waxes and acrylic coatings. The mentioned coatings can sustain a certain level of wear and abuse but will eventually degrade or wear unevenly on the rough terracotta surface. Whereas a finish in low traffic areas might maintain its luster for up to a year, a high traffic floor section will lose its coat after a couple of months. Unlike wood floors that can be treated with ultra hard, low maintenance polyurethane coatings that last several years, antique terracotta floors are not suitable for these finishes. Thus you will most likely need to reapply your finish at least once a year. But before you reseal the floor, it is important to find out what type of finish was originally used on your floor.
A soft wax floor finish such as a bees wax based floor wax is easily recognized. You can mark it witha finger nail and a hair dryer will easily melt it. Once the wax is warm, it will feel somewhat greasy to the touch, which disappears once it cools down. So try both methods and see if your floor has been finished with a soft wax. Soft waxes easily lose their sheen and appear to be degraded but only needbuffing to restore their finish. Since soft waxes are applied in much thicker coats, buffing will melt wax from unworn areas of the floor and distribute it evenly over the worn floor sections. A small 12” residential floor buffer with a soft pad will easily do the job. When this process doesn’t work anymore, the wax layer is exhausted and the floor needs to be refinished. Most soft waxes are designed for wood floors but can be easily used on antique terracotta floors. Products that come as paste need to be worked in by hand and then buffed to a sheen. Emulsified soft waxes can be applied with a brush or roller and need to dry before they are buffed. With both – paste wax and emulsified wax – caution must be taken not to over apply the wax. Thick layers of wax will turn opaque and milky and need tobe removed with a heat gun.
Hard floor coatings such as our Carnauba wax emulsion are designed to maintain their sheen over a longer period of time, but once a Carnauba wax coat applied over antique terracotta loses it’s sheen, itis almost always time to reapply. Clean your floor with warm clean water. Don’t use any soap. Use a roller or brush and liberally apply the liquid over your floor. Let it dry for 6 hours and it is ready to be walked on. Keep traffic to a minimum for at least 12 hours. You can also use an acrylic finish over hard wax since most of the modern finishers are mixed compounds of Carnauba and acrylic and alsohave anionic additives mixed in, enabling them to bond with the previous coat. Please don’t use hard wax emulsions or water based acrylic finishers on soft wax floors. Remove the soft wax coat with a solvent and then refinish the floor with a hard coat finish.
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