mtpo

White Oak: Floor Pros! Qs on Nordic and Bona “haze”

mtpo
21 days ago
last modified: 21 days ago

Hi ... thanks in advance for your help...

We are having white oak installed and finished on site. The builder already ordered the wood. The pillow is from our sofa. The company that supplied the raw wood and the installer both recommend Bona products. Color — we like the Bona Nordic best and the Bona Natural second, but they both have a muddy haze when you see them in real life. (The Classic has less of a haze.) See the photo below — if you open the photo you will see the raw wood. We will use 3 coats of Bona Traffic HD on top of the sealer. We want to stay away from adding a yellow, green, pink or orange tint to the floor.

Is the haze from the white that is in the sealer or the matte finish, or both?

Will there be less haze if we use a satin finish?

I read some really old posts here that say stay away from the Nordic. (I’ve read LOTS of old posts!)

Is the Nordic still a problem? Have experienced installers figured out how to use the Nordic in open floor plan homes?

We will have 3500 sq’ of wood and certainly don‘t want problems.

I would appreciate your advice on how to avoid the haze and advice on the Nordic product.

(Please do not tell us to order pre-finished floors or use an oil finish. Floors are already sitting in the new house acclimating and I know that I am not cut out for the oil finish.)

😁 thanks!


Comments (26)

  • SJ McCarthy
    20 days ago

    The refinisher used the 'trendy' finish that s/he THOUGHT you wanted to see. If you said you wanted the look of 'raw wood' then matte is what they would have brought. If you wanted a specific COLOUR range (but didn't say anything about the look of raw wood) then the finisher brought what s/he sees people RIGHT NOW wanting (because it is trendy).


    My suggestion is to figure out what type of 'cleaning' person you are. If you like to see a shiny floor RIGHT AFTER you clean the floor (because it makes you feel like you've accomplished something) then you are what I refer to as a 'clean-shiny' person. That means you relate clean with shiny.


    For a clean-shiny person there is NOTHING that will make them happy in the matte or satin range. The lowest level of gloss I suggest to 'clean-shiny' person is semi-gloss. There are some finishes that are a 'high-gloss satin' but I don't know where Bona Traffic HD satin sits on the glossy or not gloss level.


    If you are someone who loves the look of the 'raw floor' but you HATE the hazy look of NaturalSeal, then I HIGHLY recommend going with the satin. It will make you happy.


    Ask youself, do you WANT to see a floor that shines AFTER you clean it?


    There are MANY people who do NOT know they are 'clean-shiny' people until they purchase matte floors. These people end up crying themselves to sleep because they HATE their floors (and the massive price tag they just paid for).


    Home Owner, Know Thyself.

    mtpo thanked SJ McCarthy
    Best Answer
  • live_wire_oak
    20 days ago

    Skip any stain whatsoever. Just finish them.

  • mtpo
    Original Author
    20 days ago

    Live wire— we do not plan to stain — none of the finishes I discussed are stains — they are sealers. It is my understanding that the white oak needs a sealer to keep the tannins from turning the floor orange over the years. The Traffic HD is not a stain either. It is a protective coating.

  • SJ McCarthy
    20 days ago

    Bona Traffic HD matte = hazy looking. The matte finishes are KNOWN to look hazy. It is a chemical additive they use to cause the sheen to drop. That means the light hits the finish, it bounces around INSIDE the finish (doesn't bounce back out) so that it looks matte. It's like using a tissue over your eyes.


    If you REALLY must have the low gloss then you will use 2 coats of Bona Traffic GLOSS (as shiny as it gets) and then your LAST COAT = 1 coat of MATTE. Yes. Just ONE coat. This is the best/easiest way to get the low gloss look without the haze.


    And hazy (ie. cloudy) comes when WHITE is added to a clear product. If you mix up a cup of finish with 3 drops of WHITE PAINT...the finish in the cup NO LONGER looks clear. It looks 'hazy' or cloudy'. This is normal.


    Bona NordicSeal has WHITE in it. Therefore, thusly and in conclusion the NORDIC will look HAZIER than Bona NaturalSeal.


    Be CAREFUL of Classic. It has an AMBERING agent added. It is for people who WANT yellow. You don't. I recommend you get rid of the ClassicSeal.

  • mtpo
    Original Author
    20 days ago

    @SJ McCarthy. I don’t have a preference for Matte — the installer did all the samples that way. If satin would provide less haze, I think it would be my preference. Thanks so much for the advice about the Classic Seal ! That’s so helpful — I will stay clear of it!


    Do you think the satin finish will be better or do you suggest something else?

  • mtpo
    Original Author
    20 days ago

    I am a person who likes to walk around barefoot in my house. No slippers - no socks! I read on older posts that this leaves shiny spots on matte floors. Now that I’ve reduced my selections to just Nordic and Natural, I hope my installer will do a few more samples for me with satin and semi-gloss for each. @SJ McCarthy you have been a tremendous help. Thank you!

  • live_wire_oak
    20 days ago

    A finish that substantially affects the base color of the wood IS a stain. It’s just the woodworker’s much maligned stain and finish in one. If you choose that route, you will see precisely why it’s not a good choice for floors.

  • Moran Blueshtein
    14 days ago

    We have newly installed red oak in all our bedrooms. We want to keep the natural and pale look of the oak. I created a sample of Nordic and Natural seal. The Nordic made my floor hazy and pink. The Natural is better, but still does not really look natural - in particular the grains are becoming too prominent. I have not tried the finish yet - just the sealer. I am debating between the traffic Naturale and the Traffic HD. Which one will look more natural?

    Or maybe I should move away from Bona? What products will you recommend for the most natural unfinished bare look? I read about the Loba Invisible, but declined this option because I also read it's an inferior product....

  • SJ McCarthy
    14 days ago

    When you look at 'the raw look' you are working with a thin(ner) finish. That just NATURALLY happens. The thicker/tougher the finish the more it looks like there is finish on the wood.


    If you WANT tough...go with Loba 2K Supra AT in 3 coats (2 coats gloss, 1 coat satin). Yes it will look like it has a finish on it...but you will have SUPER TOUGH.


    Or you go with Loba Invisible and get the RAW look....but you lose the toughness.


    You will have to determine WHICH is MORE important. If you MUST give up ONE, which is it going to be?


    I take super tough everytime....cause it SAVES YOU MONEY in the long run (no need to refresh after 10 years....no need to refinish after 20 year....a full sand/refinish can give you 25-30years).

  • Moran Blueshtein
    14 days ago
    last modified: 14 days ago

    Thank you @SJ McCarthy. We do care about durability. Do you think that Loba 2K Supra AT will create a more "natural" look than the Bona Natural seal + Traffic Naturale (or HD)? Also, I was thinking that for a more natural finish we should go with a matte finish. What is the reasoning behind your recommendation of 2 gloss and 1 satin finish?

  • SJ McCarthy
    13 days ago

    The Loba 2k Supra At will not offer the 'natural' look you are after. The Traffic Naturale is not the HD. The Bona Traffic HD is the TOUGHEST version of Bona they've got. So again, you are down to 'raw look' OR 'super tough'. You must choose.


    The reason why you work with 2 coats of gloss = it looks quite clear. Once you ask it to get 'cloudy' (that's how they turn down the gloss level) then it gets hazy looking. That works for Loba, Bona, Varathane, Glitsa, etc. It is the nature of the beast.


    A matte finish can look hazy. It is the nature of the beast. That's why you apply 2 coats of gloss and the FINAL coat is matter. If you do 3 coats of matte then you are ASKING for a hazy floor. Sorry but that's the truth.


    I prefer to work with DURABILITY. The 'raw look' will die down by the time the floor is 7 years old. But the DURABILITY is going to last for 25 years!


    Again, you must choose between durability and 'raw' look. There are very few products that offer the SUPERIOR durability of HD or 2K Supra AT while still offering the look of 'raw'. That is one of the TOUGHEST asks in the flooring industry at the moment. And the tougher something is to create the MORE it will cost. Much much more then you would dare to believe. It would take a PhD in Chemistry to independently mix all of the products in the Bona line up to come up with a SUPER tough product that ALSO offers 'raw'.


    Durability vs. 'Raw Look' = it's your call.

  • Moran Blueshtein
    12 days ago
    last modified: 12 days ago

    Thanks again for the detailed response @SJ McCarthy. I have been doing quite a research today on Houzz and read many of your responses. It is all very informative and super helpful. I wish I had read everything before we installed the floors.

    I understand the contradiction. It's emotionally difficult to compromise on a pricey floor but it seems there is no way out. We installed engineered extra large (10 foot long, 9" wide) planks in our living area. This stuff is amazing but so expensive... so we compromised on solid wood for the bedrooms. I wanted the bedrooms to be light and airy. I gave my installer a sample plank of pre-finished white oak!. No idea what run in his mind when he installed red oak (saving money, maybe?). But after some useless efforts, trying to make my red oak white (and getting ugly pink instead) we ended up liking that accident of raw red oak and its pale look.

    I understand (now) that red oak takes darker tones much better, but the brown tones look very traditional (and my house is very European (I am a foreigner myself) ), the very dark tones look beautiful and stylish, but are not suitable for bedrooms. Ruling out white and dark, we are left with trying to keep the wood as close to its natural pale state as possible...

    You recommend the Supra AT for durability, which makes a lot of sense. But I wonder if there is a middle way. Is it possible to mix the Invisible with the Supra AT finish? like making 1 coat of invisible and 2 of Supra AT? Will that take me any closer to a natural look but with more durability?

    Also, how much lower quality is the Invisible compared with the Supra AT in floor years? Given that it is installed in bedrooms only, how many years do you think it will last and maintain its look?

    Thanks again for all the valuable advice!

  • mtpo
    Original Author
    12 days ago

    For those of you that are trying to figure out what to do about finishing your oak floors, I STRONGLY suggest you ask your flooring pro to do a sample with ALL the finishing coats... yes ALL, even if they say the polymer coats are clear and won’t change anything.

    We ordered 7” white oak. First, our installer did 8 samples for us — one coat of Bona sealer or stain and one coat of matte Traffic HD finish. We ruled out the samples that had a Bona stain — they were all a little too yellow or orange for my taste. We liked the samples with the Bona sealers and could hardly tell the difference in color between the NORDIC, Natural and Classic seal with the single coat of matte polymer on each.. (See photos in earlier post.) We narrowed our choice down to just NORDIC and Natural and asked the installer to use the satin finish coat instead of matte. (Thank you again, SJ McCarthy.) He put 3 coats of the Bona satin Traffic HD on each so we could see what the actual finished product would look like. WOW!!! BIG CHANGE IN COLOR and look of the finish. We were pleasantly surprised to see that the Nordic looks even less yellow with the 3 coats of satin than with the single matte coating. Looks almost the same as the raw wood in color but now has a soft gloss. It is (IMHO) beautiful. The sample with natural sealer turned quite dark with the satin top coats, a bit like baby poo after the baby eats peas, sweet potatoes and apple sauce, a orange-yellow color with a green cast! I would have been so unhappy if I had picked the Natural stain after seeing it with one coat of matte finish and trusted the color would stay the same when I just changed from a matte to a satin top coat. If my finished floors look like my Nordic/satin 2’ x 3’ sample, I will be very happy. I really appreciate that our “flooring guy” went the extra mile for us and showed us how our floor would look after ALL the coats were applied. This could have been a horror story but I’m now looking forward to a good result.


  • Moran Blueshtein
    12 days ago

    Thanks @mypo.

    When I called a BONA guy he said he would NOT do samples of the top finishes because once open they have a shelf life of 4 hours, so he will have to charge me extra $150 for each sample of a top coat... You did not have that problem?

  • SJ McCarthy
    12 days ago

    It should depend on the Bona Product. The 2K products should be like the Loba products. The Loba products can be OPENED and a SMALL AMOUNT is mixed as per requirement. Once the containers are closed up again, then they have a few weeks of being fresh.


    The ISSUE is MIXING the 2 components. Once the 2 parts are mixed to become "one part" the time line of 4 hours is set in stone. In theory (I haven't done any Bona Training so forgive me for 'guessing'...perhaps a floor pro with Bona training can jump in here) the bottles can be opened and resealed without issue. The MIXING of the product is what makes the time line very very tight.


    I don't know ANY flooring pro who thinks of mixing an ENTIRE GALLON of product just to produce 20sf of 'finish samples'. But again...I'm assuming the Bona 2part products are like the Loba 2part products. I will need confirmation of this from someone with Bona training.

  • Moran Blueshtein
    12 days ago

    It might be because those products are not too popular here (Dallas)? Or maybe he just wanted to put pressure on me to close? I told him that without actually seeing Bona samples on my floor, I can not commit to go with him, as I can't be sure that I will like the look. He said that it was not possible - he can only show samples after professionally sanding the floor because the look will be 'very different' from that with a manual sanding. He also said that it will not include the top finish unless I pay (much extra)....


  • mtpo
    Original Author
    12 days ago

    @Moran Blueshtein, We are having about 3500 sq feet of the wood installed and finished — plus stairs. The cost of the floors is such a big expenditure that I didn’t even ask the installer if or how much he was charging me for the samples — I chalked it up to the overall cost of the floors. In fact, I’m pretty sure the samples were just wound into the builder’s quote to us for the floors. No one does work for free. Doing the samples benefits me and the installer and builder — they want me to like the finished product so they don’t have an unhappy client. I think over the years, they learned how to avoid distressed clients who hate the finished floor color. If a few hundred dollars (or even more), meant the difference between loving my finished product and hating it, I felt having samples was well worth the cost. I did a lot of research before deciding on what product to use and how many top coats to use. I have a dog that has an occasional accident. Most of the articles I read suggested that 3 protective coats is the way to go. It’s not a guarantee that the floors won’t get damaged, but perhaps the extra coat will buy me a little more time to clean up a wet spot. Over the years, there’s been a lot of things I’ve cut costs on, but I feel it doesn’t pay to skimp on a major feature of my new house that should last for a very long time.

  • SJ McCarthy
    12 days ago

    @ Moran....now I see where this has come up. You have NOT hired installer yet! Ahhhh. That makes SOOOO much sense.


    The samples are done AFTER you hire the professional but BEFORE you put down the stain! You are looking at putting the cart before the horse. Sorry but that isn't the way things are done in the building industry.


    Traditionally you will ask for QUOTES and then VIEW their work (photos or in person if they have clients who offer their home as a 'show piece' = very rare) and THEN you hire the person who as the best "fit" for your needs. That 'fit' can include their ability to communicate. Their attention to detail. Their availability (not always...but sometimes) or their LACK of availability (the best people are ALWAYS BOOKED months in advance). A best fit can also include their 'interpretation' of your 'vision' (not theirs).


    And finally, a 'fit' *might include costs....but it should be much lower on the list than you might think.


    Once you and your professional shake hands and write a contract that's when they come in and start the job. They make their final grit-pass and then they will place the colour samples down with a coat of finish. This is part and parcel of your payment.


    And the professional you spoke to is correct: the 'hand sanding' is NO WHERE NEAR the same finish/product as the machine with 'final-grit' sanding.


    Please hire someone first before asking them to put down 'colour patches'. It is the way it is normally done.

  • Moran Blueshtein
    11 days ago
    last modified: 11 days ago

    @SJ McCarthy @mtpo I did hire an installer who installed my floor and was supposed to refinish it. He had 15 years of experience doing only floors and was highly recommended to me. He installed the floors beautifully, but installed red oak even though I showed him a sample of pre-finished white stained white oak. He told me that the floor would look the same, which was obviously a lie. When he did the sample with a white stain (Duraseal) and my red oak floor turned pink, I stopped the work and started searching for a new guy. The problem is that at this point my trust level is quite low. I already lost quite a bit of money in the process so I wanted to know what I get before committing. Another problem was that the Bona guy I called was not familiar with Loba products, and I am considering both. So it looks like I must know what product I am likely to use before I can even find a pro....So I am experimenting on my own, trying to narrow down the options.

  • wdccruise
    10 days ago
    last modified: 10 days ago

    I just had four rooms of 30-year-old white oak floors sanded down to the raw wood and refinished with Bona products. The refinishers used "Bona Dri-Fast Natural Stain", "Bona Classic Sealer"*, and "Bona Mega Satin" (two coats). There is no haze and the floors look very pretty, natural in color with a light sheen. I didn't choose the Nordic because I thought the white pigment made it look unnatural.

    * I didn't know that Classic Sealer added yellow that Natural Sealer did not but I didn't have anything to compare it to. The webpages say that Classic "highlights the natural color of the wood" while Natural is "designed to retain the appearance of unfinished wood" but having seen the raw, sanded wood which was remarkably gray, I don't know how the latter is possible.

  • mtpo
    Original Author
    9 days ago

    @Moran Blueshtein. did you have a contract or at least an email stating you wanted white oak? Did you put your deposit down on a charge card? if so, the bank may be able to give you your money back if you dispute the charge for red oak and the install.

    A friend of mine had her red oak floors sanded and bleached to get the pink out and then sealed them. They are not the same color as my white oak, but she’s happy with them. The bleaching added to the cost ... and another opportunity for something to go wrong. She lucked out and her floors look pretty good.

  • widdy23
    5 days ago

    @mtpo - When will your floors be finished? I'd love to know if you end up liking your final product and would welcome any photos! We recently installed new white oak hardwoods and did not like the color they turned out and will be refinishing them again - would love to get it right second time around (felt the floors looked a lot different when complete than our small sample in round one).

  • mtpo
    Original Author
    5 days ago

    @widdy23 Seems like everything is taking longer than expected. We ordered “select” boards but there were a lot of “character” boards in the delivery. Fortunately, the installer is sending them back to the lumberyard to be replaced. The raw wood that was laid (almost the whole house) looks beautiful. It has not been sanded or sealed yet so I hope we still like it when it’s finished. I will post pictures.

  • mtpo
    Original Author
    5 days ago

    Here’s a photo of our 7” Norwegian white oak before sanding or any sealer. I forgot to take a photo of the hand made air vent the installers made for the floor vent. It is a work of art.


  • mtpo
    Original Author
    5 days ago
    last modified: 5 days ago

    I could only post one photo at a time. Here’s a close up. It is engineered 7” - to be finished on site.

    BTW -/ we learned that the color of the wood is different and takes the sealer or stain differently depending on where it is from.

  • widdy23
    5 days ago

    @mtpo - Your floors look BEAUTIFUL, thank you for sharing the pics, I can't wait to see the final product. (BTW - We ran into the issue with getting character grade mixed into our select a bit too, very frustrating!)