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How to Choose the Best Floor Finish For Your Facility: Types & Considerations

How to Choose the Best Floor Finish For Your Facility: Types & Considerations

Whether you are finishing your facility’s floor for the first time or trying to restore the look of your floor, you need to select the right floor finish to keep your floors protected and looking great.

Each floor finish is unique and selecting the best one will be based on the needs of your facility.

Which Floor Finish is Best for my Floor?

In this article and video, we’ll review the 6 factors you should consider when selecting a floor finish so you can make the best choice for your facility.

  1. Floor Material
  2. Maintenance Required
  3. Green Certification Requirements
  4. Desired Gloss Level
  5. Durability
  6. Solids Content

1. Floor Material

The first consideration you will have to take into account when selecting a floor finish is the current flooring you have.

Most finishes can be used on multiple types of flooring but can not be used on all flooring. For example, a finish that can be used on vinyl, linoleum, or vinyl composition tile may not be appropriate for use on stone or brick.

Choosing a floor finish that is not compatible with the floor type will not only result in a low-quality appearance but can damage the floor substrate costing you more in labor and repair expenses.

2. Maintenance Required

Different floor finishes will require varying levels of maintenance.

This is important to consider for two reasons. You will need to ensure that you have the labor necessary to care for the finish you choose, and also that your maintenance program has the proper equipment to maintain the floor finish.


All floor finishes require some maintenance, such as vacuuming and mopping, to achieve the desired appearance and protect them from damage. However, some floor finishes will require frequent, high-speed burnishing to maintain their brilliant shine, clarity and resistance to scratches.

The level of required maintenance for floor finishes can range from frequent high speed burnishing to no buffing or burnishing.

Each type of finish will respond differently to the speed and frequency of floor maintenance.

Softer floor finishes will typically require periodic buffing and be best in facilities that perform frequent, high-speed burnishing.

If this is the case, you should be prepared to dedicate labor to this task or your floor will not maintain its quality appearance. In addition to increased labor, your cleaning staff will need to have access to a floor burnisher and the training to properly use the machine.

Staff training on how to properly use janitorial cleaning equipment like buffers and burnishers will be essential to achieving best results. If staff are unaware of how to properly and effectively use the equipment, they can damage the finish.

On the other hand, if your program does not have the labor or equipment to maintain these types of finishes, you may be better off with a harder finish or finish that does not need to be buffed or burnished.

3. Green Certification Requirements

Businesses in certain industries may have green certification standards that need to be met, and one example of this is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).

LEED was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to set a benchmark for design, construction, maintenance, and operation of high-performance green buildings and homes. LEED and other green certifications support using more natural products for healthier buildings. Green building 1

Floor finishes that meet LEED and other green standards can be certified by organizations like Green Seal® or SaferChoice®.

Green Seal and SaferChoice certify that chemical products such as floor finishes meet defined environmental and health standards like human and aquatic toxicity.

These products will also have reduced volatile organic compounds (VOCs), heavy metals, and other harsh chemicals in their product makeup, helping to improve indoor air quality.

4. Desired Gloss Level 

When finishing a floor, desired gloss or shine on a floor is usually one of the most front of mind considerations.

Often, the gloss of a floor will drive the final decision when choosing a floor finish.

Certain finishes have higher initial gloss than others, but many finishes are able to build up shine with each coat of finish that is applied. With that in mind, some businesses do not want extremely shiny or glossy floors.

For example, in healthcare facilities, extremely shiny floors are not welcomed because patients often perceive that a high gloss, shiny floor is wet and will have a fear of slipping and falling on the floor. However, in hotels or recreational facilities, shiny floors display to guests that floors are clean and well maintained.

5. Durability

Scuff Mark

The chemistry of the floor finish will determine how durable the finish is to scratches and other abuse. Some finishes will be more resistant and require less maintenance while others will need frequent buffing and burnishing to maintain its shine and appearance.

Facilities with heavy foot traffic, or daily wear and tear will likely want to choose a harder, more durable finish to minimize the amount of labor and maintenance required.

6. Solids Content

There are many misconceptions about the meaning of “solids” and their role in floor finishes. Solids represent the percentage of the floor finish that remains on the floor after the liquid product dries.

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

In the past, high solids finishes were related to the quality of a finish. However, innovation in floor finish manufacturing has allowed for advancements in floor finish chemistry which positively affects the quality, durability, and other factors.

Today, it does not make sense to choose a floor finish based solely on solids. Using 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.

However, the solids percentage in your floor finish is still important. One reason being that high solids floor finishes can offer the benefit of labor savings because they require fewer coats.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the best finish will require you to evaluate your floor type and resources and then rank your priorities with regards to floor finish features such as durability, gloss, and third-party certifications.

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.

Each consideration will have its own level of importance when selecting the best for your facility. For some, desired gloss will be paramount while others will prioritize green certifications.

Imperial Dade locations have a large selection of floor finish to help you achieve your floor’s desired look and keep your commercial hard floors protected.

If you’re located in the United States, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, or Canada, contact a specialist for a review of your facility’s current floor care program to help you choose the best floor finish for your business’ desired appearance and budget.

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