Category Archives: Coating stuff and general advice

Staining Timber Floors

(Abridged version, from articles published in SPEC-NET NEWS LOUNGE and the ATFA MAGAZINE)

New products seem to be hitting the market weekly. If you try to keep up with all of them it can make you dizzy.  We’ll attempt to outline the main types of stains, as well as the pros and cons each type.


Spirit/ethanol based dye stains have been quite popular for a number of years. With these stains, the sanding needs to be very even and fine. Originally these stains were used for “tint” staining where the contractor would put up to 10% stain in his second coat of solvent based poly. This method served its purpose at the time but with more advanced products on the market, it is well and truly outdated now. “Tinting” simply darkens the timber slightly to the colour of choice. Direct staining, or “wipe-on, wipe-off”, gives a far more dramatic tone and colour change. They are, at least, easy to use and can be thinned for more working time.


With these stains you have to be very careful and fine with the finish sanding. “Popping” the grain, using water and methylated spirit, allows more pigment to penetrate the grain for a darker end result. The main pitfalls of these stains can be highly visible. For example, any drops of water or sweat during the application will stand out in the finished job. Drag marks or scratches will easily show because they may close the grain and cause a different effect. Oil pigmented stains generally take longer to dry, especially in wet, humid or cold conditions. Some can take up to 48 – 72 hours. They do, however, produce a very natural- looking result.


Water based stains can be dye stains, pigment stains or a mixture of the two. The sanding requirements for these water based stains are much more forgiving than the previous two. Application methods differ between products, but most will require the wipe on/ wipe off process. Drying times are much quicker with these stains with most of them being able to be coated over within 2 – 4 hours.

There are not many pitfalls with water based stains. For the contractor, it may seem like a more time-consuming process than the easy “tinting” or simple roll-on methods of the solvent-based stains. However, the reality is that the more involved the application process, the better the result for the customer.  These stains are environmentally-friendly, usually come in a wide range, and their colours have real depth (their blacks are really black!). The end result is extremely natural and genuine.

Architects, contractors and homeowners should all be aware of the staining choices available. For more information, call one of Lagler Australia’s two Melbourne branches.

TUFF COAT sausage and product info night

As I write this the Tullamarine Tuff Coat Product Info night is about to get kicking. It’s kind of like a launch for the amazing new Tuff Deck product.

It will be very short lived if our staff manage to eat all of the gourmet sausages before 5pm. They’re really quite delicious. The beer is starting to look attractive, too.

If you can’t make it tonight, try and get to KNOXFIELD’s TUFF COAT evening next Thursday, 21st October.



More cold weather stuff

Many regions are experiencing some unprecedented cold snaps. It seems to coincide with Al Gore flying into town to tell us how warm the planet is getting. I’m telling you, the guy is a sadist.

Victoria is no exception. For the floorsanding contractor, the same old spectre of coatings issues rears it’s ugly head, seemingly with different kinds of ugliness every year.

Many guys get the message about ambient warmth, i.e. turning on whatever heating is available. But remember, the main issue here is not so much ambient (air) temperature, but THE TEMPERATURE OF THE FLOOR ITSELF.

We’ve seen cases of waterbased coatings crystallising due to extreme cold in the floor. Where possible, make sure the floor itself is warmed up. Don’t rush it. Also, with any coating, be it water based or solvent based, giving it a bath in a laundry tub full of warm water will help.

(Applying a blow torch or naked flame is NOT recommended!).

More trade nights

Sorry the blog postings have been a bit few and far between recently. This is on account of the EOFY stuff and the fact that we’ve had more trade nights.

The most recent show-and-tell was June 17 and 24th at Tulla and Knox respectively, for the Traditional Stain and Synteko combo.

Direct staining is making quite the comeback. Certainly this new waterbased stain from Traditional Stain Co creates a far more genuine appearance than the “tinted” look of a roll-on stain. But, and there’s always a catch, the wipe-on wipe-off method is the only way to achieve this look.

As we’ve always said, the more thorough the job and the more specialist the outcome, the more you can charge. Learning how to wipe-on and wipe-off stain is a must do for anyone wishing to advance.

We’ve got some great samples of the traditional stain outcome at Tulla or Knox, so drop in for a look.


Floating Floors Finished Fully

Now, we must be careful when we talk about floating floors. We don’t want owners etc. getting sensitive at the fact that they’re not the same as solid timber boards. I was a little too hard on my aunty for getting them put down instead of solid timber. Everything has it’s place and there are some pretty decent looking floating floors out there, within a broad range of prices. In fact, some of them are as pricey as solid timber floors. There’s an irony in that which…..never mind.

One of the main downsides to floating floors, for the solid timber enthusiast, is that as individually coated boards, the fully installed floor is not sealed as a whole, in situ. However, this is possibly about to become a thing of the past. Intergrain have come up with a coating especially designed for floating floors.

For some time, solid timber flooring contractors have occasionally dabbled in coating a fully installed floating floor, with varying results. The fact is most solvent based coatings are a little perilous on the compacted multi-layered pre-finished coatings which are most often acrylics. Water based coatings are preferable, but even a light sand on a floor which isn’t mechanically anchored down is also dangerous, considering also the thin veneer of sandable timber.

Intergrain reckon this application requires no pre-sanding or priming. It’s available is gloss or satin, which is handy since most floating floor gloss levels are fairly flat.*

There are many applications for this, either for new or old worn floaters. Laminates, however, can’t really be coated by anything so don’t try it with this stuff. By the way, I’m not having a go at laminates. Don’t write in about that.

If anyone’s used it, contact us or drop a comment and let us know what you think.

*”Flat” is not intended as a derogatory word. It means “low sheen”. In fact, we happen to love the smooth, unblemished look of pre-finish. Really. Don’t write in about that either…

Synteko lower VOC’s- here’s a picture

That's all!

Speaking of VOCs…SYNTEKO get friendlier

Hot off the press is the news that our mega-successful SYNTEKO CLASSIC has been tweaked for 2010.

As mentioned before, whilst it is a solvent borne product, it is an entirely different animal to solvent borne polyurethanes.  SYNTEKO CLASSIC is a “conversion varnish”, more of a resin than a plastic, extremely smooth, durable and hard.

However, solvents are solvents. Synteko have responded to the VOC concerns by lowering their VOC for their 2010 product. It is now below 440 grams per litre. This meets the stringent guidelines laid out for applicable chemicals by the European Union. The Aussie guidelines are far less stringent. This puts SYNTEKO CLASSIC more than just a token amount within applicable guidelines, a useful fact for any contractor who is asked the question about toxicity.

LAGLER recently spoke with consultant and VOC guru Phil Holgate on the subject. Phil confirms that the average VOC for most solvent borne polys is around 550 grams per litre. This compares SYNTEKO CLASSIC very favourably in this arena. In fact, it is a lower VOC rating even than oil modified coatings.

However, there has been some concern around the traps that what SYNTEKO CLASSIC wins in lower VOCs, it loses by containing formaldehyde.  Formaldehyde is a synthetic chemical found in many things, including cigarettes. Of course, any association with “cigarettes” can spark mass panic but, granted, it is a particularly nasty component and a  proven carcinogen.

The truth is, SYNTEKO CLASSIC contains less formaldehyde per part than most household products, including bleaches and laundry cleaners. In fact, NICNAS, the Government watchdog group which specifically monitors the toxicity of imported chemicals, dismissed any concerns about SYNTEKO CLASSIC’s formaldehyde content, confirming that it barely shows up in their measurement criteria.