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Tuesday, September 01, 2015


What are the technical difference between low solids and high solids finishes? Can high solids be made to shine like a mirror? What level of solids is best for highest level of shine?


The solids content for the majority of finishes generally varies from 16% - 22%, with a growing interest in higher solids up to 30 - 32% levels. The solids level is the amount of material left (polymer film, waxes, plasticizers, leveling resins, etc.) after everything volatile has left the film, (water, co-solvents, etc.).
The higher the solids content, the more temperamental the application may become, and it may require a bit more finesse to achieve a smooth, wet film. Because the thickness of the film is greater, the water and solvents have to travel a greater distance to escape and this can often extend the drying / curing time needed before the coating is ready to resist traffic. Under identical drying conditions, it would not be too unusual for a 30% solids polish to require as much drying time as two applications of a 16-18% solids polish before it can withstand traffic. Keep in mind that all finishes require the release of water during the drying process, and that high humidity and poor air flow will slow the drying / curing process.
The reflectivity is generally a result of the smoothness of the film. A very thin film can have a high shine just as can a thicker film. It is the degree of surface flatness that determines the reflectivity and ultimately the gloss. High speed burnishing is often used to smooth the surface imperfections and provide a polished / smooth surface that will reflect a greater percentage of the light shining on the surface, providing a shiny appearance.
Satin, semi - gloss surfaces are rougher, scattering light rather than reflecting the light back to the eye. Lower solids products usually require multiple coats on a freshly stripped floor to fill in the pores and eventually create enough surface layers to overcome the uneven texture of the tile.
18 - 20 % solids polishes are usually easier to apply and dry fairly quickly under more stressful environmental conditions. That level seems to be a popular choice in the marketplace for this reason. Reply courtesy Fred Bunegar at Hillyard
Gary Clipperton
National Pro Clean Corp.
(719) 598-5112