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High Solids Floor Finish: 3 Common Myths That Could Make You Choose the Wrong Floor Finish

High Solids Floor Finish: 3 Common Myths That Could Make You Choose the Wrong Floor Finish

There are many misconceptions about the meaning of “solids” and their role in floor finishes.

It has been a longstanding belief that the quality of a floor finish is related to the amount or percentage of solids in a floor finish. This would mean all high solid floor finishes are high quality and will be the best choice. Another belief relates floor finishes with a higher percentage of solids to increased maintenance and cost.

However, it is important to realize that innovation in floor finish manufacturing has allowed for advancements in floor finish chemistry which positively affects the ease of floor finish application and appearance. The percentage of solids in a finish no longer directly affects the quality, durability, cost, and other factors.

Nonetheless, these common still exist in the market.

Floor finishes protect your floor from the wear and tear of everyday foot traffic. They also keep your facility looking great.

Using only the percentage of solids to select a floor finish can lead you to choose the wrong one for your facility, resulting in poor floor appearance, damaged floors, and more work for your staff.

Selecting the right floor finish should not be based solely on the percentage of solids, but on the desired gloss level, hardness, floor maintenance schedule, available labor and equipment, as well as various other factors.

Debunking these age-old misbeliefs can help ensure you select the best choice for your facility.

To better understand where these myths originated from, we’ll first provide a quick overview of floor finish solids, and their role in floor finishes and waxes. Then, we will debunk some of the most common myths about high solid floor finishes, sometimes called high solids floor wax.

What are Solids in Floor Finish

Floor finishes come in liquid form that can be applied to your floor with a mop. In every floor finish, there is a percentage of solids.

Solids represent the percentage of the floor finish that remains on the floor after the liquid product dries.

The solids that are left on the floor provide a protective coating. Solids can be made up of a variety of materials, each having a specific purpose such as the ability to resist scuffs, reduce bubbling, improve slip resistance, and more. Each layer that is applied builds on top of the last. 

Floor finishes are typically differentiated by the percentage of solids they contain. High solid finishes generally contain about 25% – 33% or more solids.

Myth 1: High Solid Floor Finishes Produce A Better Shine

One of the most common floor finish myths is that a higher percentage of solids means the finish will produce better results.

This myth stems from the fact that high solid floor finishes build gloss more quickly than lower solid floor finishes.

The more solids a finish contains, the more product the finish leaves on the floor with each layer, allowing it to build gloss more quickly. As a result, higher solid finishes are commonly thought to give better results because of their ability to produce a quick shine, sometimes in just one coat.

Shiny Burnished Floor


The assumption that lower solid finishes can’t achieve these same gloss levels is not true. In reality, lower solid finishes can achieve the same glossiness as high solid finishes.

More recently manufactured low solids finish can build up its shine with additional layers of finish.

Although they will require more coats of finish to achieve desired gloss, they are generally less expensive than high solid finishes.

Low solid floor finishes can be a good option for facilities who do not need to achieve maximum shine. For example, healthcare facilities may not want occupants to think floors are wet and slippery, and will opt for less glossy, lower solid finishes.

Myth 2: High Solid Floor Finishes are Difficult to Apply

Traditionally, floor finishes with high solids meant that the finish was thick and difficult to apply. If they were not applied correctly they were more likely to have noticeably poor results.

Most commonly, they would be left to dry in thick uneven patches that resulted in uneven glossiness, mop swirls, and dips on the floor. High solids often required additional labor and increased expenses to correctly apply or rework uneven finish.


Newer high solid finishes have been designed for easier application, reducing the amount of time staff needs to spend applying it.

With the ability to more easily and consistently apply high solid finishes, your staff is able to enjoy the benefit of fewer coats and enhanced productivity.

Myth 3: High Solid Floor Finishes are More Expensive

Another common misconception is the higher the percentage of solids, the more costly the finish.

High solid floor finishes are more expensive than lower solids per gallon. But the overall cost of use is less expensive when considering labor and time.


The product cost of high solid finishes can be offset by labor and maintenance savings.

High solid floor finishes are more durable and require less maintenance.

High solid finishes require fewer coats to build to the desired gloss and protection level. Fewer required coats mean less labor. With fewer coats, there is also reduced dry time.

high solid floor finishes cost more

For example, a floor finish with 25% solids will allow staff to easily and quickly achieve the same or better floor protection from 4 coats as your staff could from 5 coats of 20% finish without the added work and expense.

It is important to note that floor finish manufacturers recommend that no more than 4 coats of any finish be applied in a 24 hour period, in order to allow proper curing time for the finish. Finishes which require 4+ coats (lower solids) will need to wait for the previous coats to cure before applying additional layers.

The quicker your staff can complete floor finishing procedures, the faster they can move onto other cleaning tasks, reducing labor costs.  

Finally, high solids floor finish require less maintenance, ultimately helping to reduce labor costs. They are more durable to water, dirt, scuffs, and scratches, reducing the frequency of required maintenance and extending the time between restorative procedures which are more time and labor-intensive. The product cost of high solid finishes can be offset by labor and maintenance savings.

Final Thoughts

Floor finish solids are an important part of any floor finish. The solids formulation of each type of finish will be designed for specific results and will vary from brand to brand.

In the past, floor finish solids had a direct impact on the cost, durability, and required maintenance of a finish, but with innovation in floor finish manufacturing, the percentage of solids in floor finish may not always impact these features.

Understanding that the best finish for your facility will be based on desired gloss level, hardness, and various other factors is critical to ensuring you select the best finish to keep your floors protected and looking great.

Although higher solid floor finishes can help your staff achieve a better gloss level in the fewest amount of coats, your facility may be better off with a floor finish that does not require maintenance or has a lower glossiness level.

Imperial Dade locations have a wide range of floor finishes to enhance the appearance of your facility’s hard floors. Whether you’re located in the United States, Puerto Rico, or the Caribbean, we can review your facility’s current floor care program to make sure you have the best floor finish to accommodate your facility’s unique needs and budget.

Contact an Imperial Dade Specialist today to learn more about choosing the right floor finish to protect and enhance the shine of your commercial hard floors.

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