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Floor Finish vs. Floor Wax

Is there a difference between floor finish and floor wax?  Both floor wax and floor finish provides a coating to your floor that protects the original floor surface from scuff marks and high traffic wear and tear.  Both floor wax and floor finishes provide excellent slip resistance to a floor, on top of adding a brilliant shine.  They are essential in promoting a safe and clean environment at the work place.  For the most part these products are used by facility janitorial staff, and commercial cleaning services in places like hospitals, schools, grocery and retail stores and malls, office buildings and even manufacturing plants.  When used correctly floor wax and floor finish will add safety, shine and longevity to the floor making it a great investment for facility maintenance.

Despite floor finish and floor wax both giving the end user the same results, you really only need to scratch the surface to understand how they are different.  The product titles themselves are often interchangeable, much like carpet and rug, or movie and film.  Simply put, floor waxes are natural and floor finishes are synthetic.  Floor wax is generally derived from carnauba wax, a wax that is extracted from the leaves of Brazilian palm trees.  It makes perfect sense that a plant indigenous to an extremely hot and humid climate and demanding habitat would provide the most resilient waxes.  Palm leaves themselves need to withstand extreme water, heat, sunlight and of course, the impact of rain and wind.  The natural durability of carnauba wax makes it ideal for protecting high traffic areas on floors with little maintenance.  Floor wax is the more traditional product and still used by many cleaning professionals, however the synthetic products are claiming a large part of the market.

Floor finish is synthetic and has its advantages over traditional floor wax.  Floor finishes are primarily comprised of several components including acrylic polymers, alkali- soluble resins, surfactants, plasticizers and wax emulsion.  Each of these components contributes to the different qualities of floor finish from the shine and slip resistance to durability.  A brief overview of should provide a better understanding of how they all work together.

Acrylic polymers are essentially plastic particles or solids in the finish that give it the strength and durability against traffic and resilience to dirt getting ground into the finish.  More solids make for a more durable finish.  Alkali-soluble resins are the component that allows the finish to self level, giving the finish an even coat.  This makes the finish set in less time, as well as making it easier to strip when it is time to refinish the floor.  Another integral part to ensuring even coats is surfactants, which help the finish spread across the floor evenly.  Plasticizers act as a hardener for the surface keeping the finish from cracking once it has set.  Lastly there is the wax emulsion.  Wax emulsion is used to affect the glossiness, hardness and slip resistance of the finish.  Synthetic wax emulsion has been instituted in many floor finishes over the natural carnauba waxes used in traditional floor wax.  These are the basic elements of floor finish and should be taken into consideration when choosing the right floor finish or floor wax for your job.

Is there a difference between floor wax and floor finish?  They can be considered interchangeable terms, but the presence of a natural carnauba wax is the only real difference.  Both natural and synthetic wax finishes will do a great job if applied correctly.  Even a seasoned professional could be fooled into thinking natural wax was used when it was a synthetic product.  Whether you prefer a floor wax or a floor finish, both are great investments for keeping your facility floors cleaner, safer and easier to maintain.

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