Frequently Asked Questions

What are the dangers associated with solvent-based finishes?

Toxic fumes given off by solvent floor finishes contain free isocyanates that affect the respiratory system and are particularly dangerous for asthma sufferers, children and the elderly.  Solvent-based floor finishes are classified as poisons and homeowners should vacate premises until solvent based coatings are fully cured.  This can take a minimum of 7 – 14 days.  In addition the fumes from solvent finishes can taint food in pantries and even refrigerators.  Some water based paints can turn yellow due to the reaction of isocyanates with the amines in the paint.  Plants, paintings and pets should also be removed from the area until the finish is totally cured. 

Alternatively choose the convenience of a non-toxic waterborne floor finish.  No toxic fumes or isocyanates - so no need to move out!  Bona’s modern polyurethane finishes offer excellent wear resistance, are non-yellowing and bring out the real beauty of timber flooring - without risking your health.  Solvent finishes are a thing of the past, so ask your professional floor finisher about the benefits of the Bona waterborne alternative. 

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Don’t solvent-based finishes wear better?

20 years ago the answer was yes.  Today’s technology means that the best waterborne finishes are 100% polyurethane and provide wear resistance that is better or as good as solvent based products - without the toxic fumes.  Floors in commercial premises are routinely coated with waterborne finishes as there is minimal disturbance to the commercial operation with no toxic fumes or health risks.  In these situations having good wear resistance is a necessity.  
Since 1980 Bona have sold enough finish to coat 750 million m2 with 175 million m2 of Mega and 150 million m2 of Traffic included in this number.  Recent examples of projects in Australia include 10,000 m2 of Bona Naturale at the new Brisbane Supreme Court, the entrance hall & Kings Hall at Old Parliament House in Canberra where Traffic Anti Slip was used and 8000 m2 of Bona Traffic Matt at the National Gallery Victoria at their St Kilda Rd and Fed Square galleries.

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What advantages do Bona finishes offer?

Bona non-toxic waterborne finishes offer many advantages over solvent-based products.  Firstly all Bona finishes are classified as non-toxic and there is no need to move out while the finish is curing.  This usually takes between 7 and 14 days.  Bona finishes are non-yellowing, fast drying and have excellent resistance to wear. Remember however that the timber can be affected by UV light so exposed areas may change colour a little over the first few months.  There is also a choice of sheen levels ranging from absolute matt to matt to satin and through to gloss.  Unlike solvent finishes that give floors a plastic appearance, Bona finishes look natural and highlight the beauty of the timber. 

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Are waterborne finishes more expensive?

The difference in product cost between using a waterborne finish and a solvent finish is usually about $4 - $6 per m².  This is a small difference when the many benefits of a non-toxic Bona finish are taken into account.  For example, there is no need to move out during the finishing of the floor.  If you are only having floors in part of your house being coated then you can use the remainder of the house.  Similarly there are no lingering odours or solvents as there would be with a solvent based finish so you can reoccupy the coated areas quickly with no fear of being exposed to dangerous chemicals.

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What specification should I choose

It is always difficult to be able to advise what specification is needed for a floor without having information regarding the expected traffic levels, the required appearance with regard to colour / sheen / depth of the finish, the expected maintenance regime and the budget considerations.  In general terms all of the Bona finishes are suitable for domestic and home office use but clearly they also have varying expected performance levels.  For instance, if you have a young family and expect that your floors will be subject to very heavy wear then you may wish to use one of our commercial finishes, such as Bona Traffic, whereas if the floor has light use then Bona Mega or Novia may be more suitable.

Whichever specification you decide upon with your contractor there are a few things that you should make sure of in relation to the finishes used.  The specification should have a Bona primer followed by 2 applications of the same Bona finish; the Bona Naturale 2 coat system is the only exception to this.  The use of solvent based primers from other companies is not acceptable.  Similarly using a different Bona finish for the middle coat compared to the final application, such as using Bona Mega and then Bona Traffic, can bring issues.  Finally, if you are unsure as to which product to use on your floor always try to use the 'higher' specification to ensure that the system chosen can deal with the expected level of traffic and use.

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Why use a sealer or primer?

Although Bona top coats can be used directly on bare timber, we strongly recommend the use of Prime Classic or Intense.  Firstly, you save money because a primer costs less than a top coat.  More importantly apart from the savings there are sound technical reasons to use a primer.  Bona Classic or Intense ensure the floor has an even look without discolouration or a patchy appearance and minimise any possibility of edge bonding occurring with your floor.  You also save time because both products dry faster than top-coats. 

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How do I maintain my floor?

There are some simple steps to maintaining a timber floor.  In short, try to prevent the floor getting dirty by using preventative measures such as mats, clean up spillage as soon as possible, use the minimum amount of moisture on the floor and refurbish the floor by re-coating the floor with a single application of finish when required.
Click on the link for more information on Bona maintenance products.

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How do I find a good contractor?

Finding a contractor to undertake any building work can be a daunting task.  Word-of-mouth recommendations are always good but if this is not possible there are a few basic guidelines for engaging a contractor:- 

Most contractors are happy to provide a free quotation, subject of course to the time and distance to reach you.  Whilst no contractor likes to feel that they are one of 10 contractors being asked to quote generally they are happy to give a price for the proposed work.  This means that you can judge what is a fair price. 

To be fair to you and the contractors make sure you obtain a detailed quotation in writing detailing all the work to be carried out.  Clarify the little things such as, “will the rubbish and sawdust from the floor be removed from site”?  It is important to compare 'apples to apples' or you might find that your 'cheap' price leaves you with much work still to do.

Ask the contractor for references that you can contact if you choose to.  Good contractors are only too happy to have the chance to let you speak to happy customers.

Beware of someone who asks for money up front and make sure you are happy with the end result before making final payment.  Stage payments are often used where timber flooring is laid and finished after each phase of work is completed but again make sure you are happy before signing off each stage.

This website includes a list of floor finishing companies and contractors who have used Bona products regularly over a period of time – See Finding Your Contractor.  This is to aid you finding tradesmen familiar with Bona waterborne finishes.  This list is not however a list of approved contractors - with the size of our country it is simply not possible to maintain an effective approval scheme.  Ultimately the decision of which contractor to engage is yours and you should ensure, by taking testimonials and discussions with the contractor regarding the works to be undertaken, that you have chosen wisely.

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What may be the effects of sunlight on the floor?

The ultraviolet spectrum within sunlight can affect any organic material including timber.  Any exposure to light will bring with it some change in colour to a floor irrespective of the use of a stain or finish and even if the surface is not in direct sunlight.  Lighter timbers, such as Blackbutt, tend to slightly darken when exposed whereas darker or redder timber species, like Jarrah, will become lighter.  The use of waterborne finishes can slow the changes seen but cannot prevent the process from occurring.

All timbers, and cork, when exposed to very direct sunlight over an extended period of time are susceptible to ‘fading’ where the surface of the timber can lose most of its colour and become almost white or grey in appearance.  This is most noticeable with darker and red timbers but can also be clearly seen on lighter species and timber coloured by heat treatment.  It is important therefore that this effect is acknowledged as having the potential for causing colour changes so that steps such as the use of UV blocking films and window dressings, e.g. blinds, curtains, etc. can be put into place.

If colour changes do occur sanding the floor to bare timber will remove the affected surface layer and allow the floor to be returned to its original colour.

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