An Introduction by Deven Gadula

I have to say, honestly, that the initial introduction to the reactive stains by Ciranova brought mixed feelings upon me. Having spent about a decade searching for and reading books and other materials and Internet forums covering and explaining this subject - and having gone through countless hours (10 hours every week on average, going back 8-9 years, makes that about 4,500 hours) experimenting; getting nowhere; getting somewhere; starting to understand the issue; and finally figuring most of it out - I was shocked to find out that what I thought the best European flooring vendors were achieving on their own through a similar struggle to mine, was given to them on a silver plate, or should I say in a metal can?

When Rubio Monocoat showed up here a few years ago with their Fumed and Smoked products, I started adding these mixtures into our processes occasionally and found them useful, but definitely not powerful enough to forgo my own methods and research. The reactions were sort of turning boards slightly into grey shades, but while achieving other tones became possible, the outcome was rather limited and…weak.

Ciranova not only produces a few grey tones. Light Grey, by the way, is their biggest reactive stain seller. Their Cognac tone (they call it Baro) is as powerful and perfectly developed reaction as I have ever done, seen or can imagine, and it is mind boggling that you can pour it straight out of a can. Ciranova has the entire range of colors and - what is even more important - they are inter-mixable. A creative wood finisher can develop his own tones of colors and he can layer them as well. This layering process is much more tricky and it really requires either some guidance or plenty of patience and perseverance. However, the final effect you can achieve by pouring (it is extremely important that you don't apply these liquids too thin) ready-to-use liquids out of cans onto boards containing a substantial amount of tannin, is as impressive as can be seen in the nicest showrooms throughout any country.

As the initial disappointment of the rapidly decreasing significance of my expertise subsided, I realized that the Ciranova brand, known previously only to a select group of industry-insiders in Belgium, France and other European countries, was going to be known to the rest of the world as well, because such was the ambition of their managers. Since I could understand the reactions they were able to capture and magically contain in cans, we found a lot to talk about. We were talking about the reactive stains, but also about the hardwax oils.

My flooring company, First, Last & Always, has been using hardwax oils since 2007. This was about a year prior to when most of us in America started hearing about these products. The global recession first brought us European flooring manufacturers ( I guess they had some free time on their hands). Mark Hak (who has become a good friend of mine by now) showed up at our showroom for the first time in the summer of 2008, and his Hakwood brand out of Holland is pretty well known in America by now. His marketing has first introduced many of our designers and architects to the term Hardwax Oil.  By the way, Mark was greatly influential in popularizing the engineered floors inside of Europe when Hakwood started mass producing and selling back in 2003. Schotten & Hansen most likely pioneered the idea of the 3 layered engineered floor back in 1988, when Torben Hansen started producing them for his own crews to install. The entire European Community is on the wagon now, but back in even 2010 the stigma of the term 'engineered' was still prevalent among the industry. When I mentioned to some of the French suppliers of old recovered floor boards that I was thinking of engineering them, they would look at me like I was trying to waste good material and to turn it into something nobody would value or want.

The hardwax oil I became first familiar with was Blanchon Oil. Then we also started using Osmo and Rubio Monocoat. I loved the look of these finishes from the start and the fact that unlike the paste wax or sealer and paste wax finishes we had used as well, hardwax oiled floors could be cleaned in a standard fashion, with liquid cleaner, was a big advantage over the beautiful paste wax finishes. I was afraid to recommend the hardwax oil finishes to my clients for the first couple of years, because I really didn't know how durable they would be and I did not want the liability such recommendation would carry. Thanks to Mark Hak and to the avalanche of the follow-up to his marketing activities, by 2011 we had more hardwax oil jobs than we needed, most of them specified by architects and designers. Just to give you an idea of how much this market is growing: in 2008 First, Last & Always had done 4 hardwax oiled jobs, while In 2012 we completed nearly 30 projects. What I have learned over the last years of working with hardwax oils, is that it is important to make sure you don’t over-sand the surface. No higher grit than 100 or 120 should be used on the surface of the wood. If you need to sand it to the higher grit for any reason, you should reopen the grain with 100 or 120 grit paper to assure that the oils and waxes impregnate themselves sufficiently into the grain of wood. The other important factor is the need of the annual maintenance of floors in main walking areas. Once you let the finish wear too much, you will not be able to fix it easily, unless you are working on a Schotten & Hansen floor. Somehow these German geniuses have figured something out that I can't quite comprehend yet. It is extremely important to remind your clients (probably best through automated emails) that they need to allow you to schedule the application of maintenance oil every year. The beauty of these oils (when they are applied properly) is that they get inside the worn areas where they are missing and needed without affecting the overall look of a floor. I now stand fully behind the durability of hardwax oiled floors, and when I need to convince certain clients, I tell them this story, which - I honestly have to say - find hard to believe myself sometimes:

First, Last & Always had installed Hickory Pecan (much harder than Oak) distressed hardwood floors at the restaurant French Laundry in Yountville, Napa Valley, 7 years ago. The manager had requested us to apply the most durable finish on these floors and we ended up using 3 coats of the catalyzed epoxy finish, Bacca Glitsa. Every year since then the restaurant was closed for maintenance in July and year after year we had to re-scrape and refinish these floors. Back in 2011 we told the manager that it was the last time we were able to re-scrape those floors because there was no more wood left. After some consideration and tests done on a sample, we decided to use 2 coats of hardwax oil instead. The restaurant is extremely busy and the traffic is very heavy at all time. We now apply the maintenance oil coat twice a year, but from looking at the results of the last 18 months, we can definitively say that this hardwax oil has performed better than the Bacca Glitsa finish we used in the past. That fact has really opened up my eyes to the full potential of this product.

Ciranova offers 3 kinds of hardwax oil. Their standard 1st line of HardwaxOil can be compared to Osmo Polyx Oil or to Blanchon Oil. Ciranova's 2nd line is called HardwaxOil Magic. In terms of the look it leaves behind, this line can be compared to Blanchon Environment, the finish of the company first able to achieve the 'natural wood look'. Ciranova's HardwaxOil Magic has a very low sheen and the oil is often almost invisible. That is why they called it Magic. Ciranova's 3rd line of hardwax oils is called HardwaxOil Full Solid and it basically resembles, in application and in performance, Rubio Monocoat Hardwax Oil. Both are 95% solid (only 5% of product ends up evaporating into the air, which earns it the 0 VOC label). The main difference between them is that Rubio Monocoat Hardwax Oil mixes with a hardener and, once it is mixed with a hardener, can be used only for so many hours. The left overs have to be disposed of. Ciranova's scientists were able to develop an accelerator instead of the hardener. Once you mix the oil with the accelerator and you have a left-over amount, you can pour it back into the can and close it. The product stays good for at least 4 months, and can be used during that period of time. All 3 of Ciranova's lines of hardwax oils come in various colors. For better protection, Ciranova advises to always apply a coat of clear hardwax oil on top of the colored one. This is a great advice, because I have seen many floors in Europe where (often in the flooring showrooms) the color has been worn out of the main walking areas. Most of the European flooring vendors apply a coat of HardwaxOil Magic Natural as a last step, regardless of the products used below it. For many of the European insiders I have talked to, that is the favorite hardwax oil on the market. It truly does look beautiful if you like the look of the unfinished floor.

Once I had realized that their reactive stains were simply unparalleled and that they owned the most recognized (by the industry insiders) hardwax oil product on the market, I offered my services to them. Once I was trained by Lorenzo Cosse, (Ciranova's scientist turned sales manager), I became aware of the fact that although we could easily be selling these products here in North America, real success will require some training of our future clients, because only then would they be able to use the Ciranova products to their full potential. You can figure it all out on your own, but the process could potentially become very time consuming and prove to be discouraging. Mixing stains and dyes is much simpler than combining the reactive solutions. However, it is not only likely but almost certain that new beautiful cabinet and flooring samples will be produced by the creative individuals, with the help of the Ciranova products. These unseen possibilities could surprise even the mad scientist Lorenzo himself.

I am actually looking forward to doing it myself.

12 Comments

SourceWoodFloors
SourceWoodFloors

May 05, 2015

Thank you for sharing valuable information. Nice post. I enjoyed reading this post. The whole blog is very nice found some good stuff and good information here Thanks.

Walter Lourie
Walter Lourie

March 14, 2014

UV finishing takes away the naturalness of wood. Just figure out a way to speed up the air drying. I know a furniture manufacturer that uses a 2C hard wax oil that he is forcing hot air over the wood components and then packaging in less than 2 hours in plastic and is experiencing no water spotting. The UV oils just don’t do it for me. The way mafi does it is one coat of air dry oil at the factory and one coat on the job after install. The install is when most damage happens to floors or during the construction phase. When you repair a UV floor after install it is very difficult to do match to the sheen level with a non UV oil. Also, if you can leave the wood open as possible, you allow the wood to heal naturally. For example, you can wash an open floor, the wood is allowed to reform after denting. Once you install a film forming finish like the UV oil, you take away all the attributes of wood. By the way, This is a long way away from the original topic of this blog. Sounds like Devon’s discovery is a trend nationwide for creative and open minded people that know whats best for wood and it is about time. The wood flooring industry needs to get real….

Daniel Brooks
Daniel Brooks

December 02, 2013

Hi Jason, I don’t think you will have a problem curing the oils, as long as the lamps have the proper power range to harden the applied quantity;

- Stir well before use.
- Add the amount of hardener and mix well
- Apply +/- 10 – 15g/m²
- Use custom brushes and/or pads to distribute the oil into the wood
- Cure by UV lamps (2 lamps Hg 80W – 10m beltspeed)
- Slight brush sanding
- Apply 5 – 10g/m² Debacure Rolleroil Matt
- Cure by UV lamps (1 lamp Hg 80W / 10m beltspeed)

The tricky part will be applying the correct amounts, I don’t know if there are machines developed yet to do this on site?

The added hardener cures the oil where the lamps can not reach and it also improves water and chemical resistance and you use the same Ciranova flooring soap and Maintenance Oil when caring for the UV floor.

Jason Vivash
Jason Vivash

December 01, 2013

Has there been any testing to see if we could apply the UV oils on site and cure (instantly or after some period of time) using the curing machines that are sold for water based UV cured urethanes? This would be a huge advantage as most of the damage I am getting is done within the first week after applying hardwax oils. Normally from builders working on it or covering it/ taping to it before its cured and full strength.

thanks

Jason Vivash

Deven Gadula
Deven Gadula

May 03, 2013

Hi Matt,

I have just came back from the East Coast where Lorenzo and I where presenting Ciranova’s UV curing products to a couple of largest wide plank producers in the country. These people were using another brand of UV curing products but had constant problems with water spotting. Water left on the surface of finished product was sipping into the grain and spotting floors. Not only that Ciranova’s products do not experience such complains or problems but the look of the Ciranova’s UV curing products resembles the look of standard hardwax oils the best. I would recommend that you purchase Cefla Smart Parquet line which works perfectly with Ciranova’s products. Get the option of using UV curing lamps but use the machine to apply UV cured as well as oxidizing hardwax oils. Yes, it is much easier to spot fix Ciranova’s
UV cured products than any other UV cured products I have encountered, and yes, i would say that the look of these finishes gets close to the look of standard hardwax oils. However, I am still planning on using Ciranova’s Hardwax Oil Magic on my most significant projects. This the the most attractive hardwax oil finish I have ever seen. Cefla Smart Parquet will do an excellent job applying it on boards.

Deven Gadula

Matt Bainbridge
Matt Bainbridge

April 18, 2013

Just following-up on my previous post, as I would love to get more information on the differences between hardwax oil and UV Oil. We are considering investing in UV-curing equipment, but I have heard a lot of mixed reviews.

Matt Bainbridge
Matt Bainbridge

March 08, 2013

Lorenzo,

I have heard now from a couple people that a lot of the Prefinished UV-oil products on the market are actually not oil at all, and that it is very difficult to “spot repair” them, as is apparently possible with hardwax oil. I have heard the sheen does not match when reapplying the maintenance oil, and that reapplication requires a “buffing” process to abrade the surface, just as would be required with a urethane floor.

Can you clarify? From your description it sounds like UV Oil has many advantages over Hardwax oil, but I have heard strong opinions in the opposite. My personal experience with what is sold as UV oil is that it is basically a low-sheen urethane.

Lorenzo Cosse
Lorenzo Cosse

February 25, 2013

Hi Deven,

For regular maintenance and cleaning you can use our flooring soap (clear or white) and also recoat the floor once in a while with our regular maintenance oil, available in several colors (clear, natural white, white, grey, black). That proves also we are working with a real UV-OIL! You can download the technical data sheets from our website regarding maintenance of oiled floors.

deven gadula
deven gadula

February 23, 2013

Lorenzo, when you say the maintenance is the same do you mean that you use the warm water and soap solution to clean the uv cured finishes with (i know the answer is yes) or are you saying that you can actually recoat these uv cured floors with a coat of maintenace oil once a while, and if so, what sort of maintenence oil do you recoat them with?

Lorenzo Cosse
Lorenzo Cosse

February 23, 2013

Hi Guys,
Below I will explain the main difference between Hardwaxoil and UV-OIL.

Hardwaxoil is an oxidative system which is a system that dries using the evaporation of volatile components and then bounding of the solid content to the wood (cells). The drying time is approximately 4 to 6 hours depending the relative humidity and temperature of the room. There are several systems, 2 coat, 1 coat systems…

UV-Oil works by using ultraviolet light (UV) which reacts with the chemicals in UV-Oil providing bonds without using solvents only the (UV) radiation. This forms true radiation radicals which combine together from active groups from resins and diluent so they can create a 3-dimensional network (which is important for the wear, scratch and chemical resistance).
Advantages of UV-OIL:

· Lower energy cost during drying process
· High productivity thanks to short drying process
· Easy maintenance or less wear and tear on equipment as the oil only dries without the use of roller-coater or belts.
· High end finishing
· Can be maintained with same products as for Hardwaxoil finishes.

So those are a few key differences on UV Oils versus Oxidative Oils…

Kind Regards,
Lorenzo

deven gadula
deven gadula

February 22, 2013

Hi Matt. I am not an expert on uv cured coatings yet, but i can tell you right now that the greatest difference is in the hardness of the uv oil versus the hardwax oil and in the time of full curing. Uv curing is done in matters of seconds. You take boards off the machine and you can stack them right away. That is why it makes a huge difference in production. Is this a better finish? Is it really an oil or is it just called an oil? I have talked to various people about this subject and i have heard many various opinions. One of the people could be considered an expert in that field and when i had asked him if i should be considering getting the uv curing equipment his answer was negative. He thought that i should retain the power to reoil my clients’ floors periodically, so i am able to improve the appearance of their finish on regular basis. They call it uv oil but as far as i know it is always acrylic impregnated. That is what cures instantly.These finishes used to be much thicker. I have encountered quite a few acrylic impregnated floors in the past and i remember that it was basically impossible to fix them or to recoat them in place. The finish was just too hard and nothing sticked to it. I will ask Wouter Devaere, the owner of Ciranova, to answer this question better than i am able to, because he is adament that Ciranova’s uv curing products are much better than the majority of products on the market.

Matt Bainbridge
Matt Bainbridge

February 19, 2013

Very informative post! I have a question. We have seen a lot of products coming out that use “UV Oil”. Is this the same as hardwax oil? What is the difference?

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