Looking After Your Fir Softwood Floor
Fir is a delicately patterned and beautiful softwood and is becoming increasingly popular in homes and in garden annexe buildings. The light, attractive appearance of fir makes it a great match for any style of décor. Especially popular in bedrooms and in playrooms, the natural grain of fir wood makes for a clean cut and uniform appearance, making it the perfect backdrop or ‘blank canvas’ for colorful throw rugs and mats.
Softwood is ideal for rooms with relatively little or no through traffic and the care of softwood is a bit different to that of hardwood maintenance. Softwood flooring, and fir in particular, is definitely worth having in rooms which have little natural light, and the light grained effect offers a delicate and elegant look which is always much admired.
It is certainly worth learning how to care for your softwood flooring to ensure it gives you many years of both beauty and service with the minimum of maintenance.
Sanding a fir floor is best carried out by a hand rather than by a walk through sander with the edges and hard to reach places being smoothed by an edging sander or even with sandpaper.
As with all types of softwoods, fir responds extremely well to polyurethane-based sealant. The initial coat of polyurethane can be diluted to half strength by adding water although the next and subsequent coats should be applied at full strength.
One of the most common issues when applying polyurethane is bubbling. Remove bubbles by attacking them straight away and eliminate using long, smooth brush strokes.
Use a high-quality lambs wool roller and apply along the length of the sanding floor boards to seal and protect the wood. Allow to dry for at least the manufacturers recommended time, longer if possible. When you are ready then apply another coat. Never use cheap brushes or rollers for this job as these will leave residual hairs and fluff throughout the floor that will prove a false economy in the long run and ruin the finish of the floor.
Keep the floorboards dry before applying the sealant to minimize the risk of splitting and damaging the wood.
If the floor has not been sealed in a while then you can offer additional protection by applying a third coat and final coat before moving on to the finishing technique.
If your fir has been previously unstained it may require only a clear varnish finishing. However you can, if you wish, change the color of the wood by using one of the many toxin-free finishings available. Always apply in strict accordance with manufacturer’s guidelines and clear up spillages immediately.
Allow the maximum time for drying out before returning furniture and people to the room.
Banish the myths
It is a myth that softwoods are less sturdy than hardwoods and in fact these terms originated when trying to describe the life cycles of the trees. Nowadays softwoods are enjoying a resurgence as this type of tree is faster growing and therefore more eco-friendly than the slow growing hardwoods such as maple and beech.
It is equally untrue that hardwoods are actually harder than softwoods. The best example is that of balsa, one of the lightest woods around, which is actually a member of the hardwood family and fir, one of the strongest woods, is a softwood.
The main rule of thumb is that hardwoods last longer in high traffic areas such as hallways, dining rooms, living rooms and stairways. Softwoods do very well in dens, bedrooms and less frequented rooms around the home.
Whether your floor is soft or hardwood, it will last for many years if properly maintained and given the care and attention it deserves.