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How Many Coats of Floor Finish is the Right Number?

This is a topic almost as old as floor finish has been available.  Every person applying finish has their ideal number of coats, but many times they don't know why that is, or if that is actually the proper number to properly protect the floor and to provide proper slip resistance.  Many times 3 coats seems to be the magic number.  Many proposals specify this number when quoting a job.  It produces great looking floors, but often just a few months later the floor isn't looking all the awesome and everyone is wondering why.

The proper number of coats is no less than 5.  Many times people don't like to put this many coats down, it takes time, the employees are about to show up the next morning, it takes more than one trip to the site, it costs a lot more money in labor and materials,etc.  And after all, 3 coats looks awesome on the floor.  The number of reason is endless.  But think of this simple fact.  A proper application of 5 coats with an average finish is no more thicker than the wrapper on a pack of cigarettes. Yet this thin film is subjected to amazing temperatures during a heal strike, pressures from a lady's high heal shoe spike, corrosive ice melting salts in the winter, and often chemicals that are incorrect or damaging used during cleaning.  And at 3 coats you are 40% less than the target goal of 5 coats.  It is no wonder why floor look terrible under these conditions.

The proper number of coats for an average floor is 5.  If you are using a burnishing program, 6 to 7 coats (Every 10 burnish passes equals the removal of one coat of finish) is an appropriate number of coats.  I can hear every contractor and buyer out there saying, "You've got to be kidding, my customers can ever afford that many coats."  At our offices we have a showroom floor which lasted 5 years before it was stripped and re-coated.  We applied 6 coats of Betco Untouchable SRT finish on a brand new just stripped floor.  It was cleaned 3-5 times per week using the correct chemicals (salt remover in the winter months for us in Michigan), and was scrubbed and re-coated with one additional coat half way through the 5 year period.  At the end of the 5 year period we stripped it to make this series of how to videos.  If you can't get 5 years or more out of your process between strip-outs then you are doing well;  consider the real cost of not doing the floor to the manufacturer's specifications when stripping every year or every couple of years.  It is a whole lot more than 2-3 more coats of finish.  If you are a  school system, what would you save by only top scrubbing and re-coating every year and avoiding a complete strip out?  When you look at the total cost over 4-5 years, the extra coats more than pay for themselves.

Please watch this video to have a better understanding of floor finish coat thickness: