Now that the stain has dried its time to finish this job. I will be completely honest and say this last step will test your patience to the limit and beyond. You will be wondering if its worth all this effort...believe me it is!
Polyurethane comes water-based and oil based. Ive used both. My recommendation is oil based.
My first experience laying wood floors was in my Living Room. After living with the smell of staining the floor (in November) we were tired of the stench. Water-based poly was attractive to us for a couple reasons. 1. NO STINK 2. EASY CLEAN UP. Now the reason I'm NOT recommending it is that we had issues with the poly not sticking in a few areas. Random small pea sized spots. We contacted the company who made the product and were told that the flooring was probably contaminated. We re-sanded those areas and tried again. The water poly still wouldn't stick. I don't need that kind of frustration after all the effort involved and neither do you!
This time around we decided to use oil based. The finish is night and day from the water based.
The wood floors gleam and the poly has a nice smooth even finish. Yes it stinks until its dry but the end results are worth it.
The following tips are my personal recommendations based on my experience. I follow directions by professionals but if they don't work for me....I have no problem finding my own way to make something work.
My number 1 tip is LINT, DUST and HAIR are the enemy when you poly. Ladies...hair nets,pony tails or a big clip is necessary. We shed hair without noticing it all the time but when you poly...you will wonder why you aren't bald.
My Number 2 tips is Forget the lambswool pad thingy bobber....refer to number 1! I cannot figure out how anyone makes this work although I have heard success stories. My attempt resulted in me on my hands and knees trying to pick wool lint fibers out of the poly. Thank goodness one swipe was enough for me to see it wasn't working.
Tip Number 3. MICROFIBER CLOTH to drag around with you. Wipe down each section before you apply poly. Wipe wipe wipe! If you have questions see tip number 1.
Tip Number 4. USE A BRUSH AND WEAR GLOVES...yes it will take a bit longer but it also gives you more control. You are working close to the floor and if something flies into your poly you can remove it.
Tip Number 5. THIN COATS...you might be thinking you can slather this stuff on in one coat and be done! DON'T!!! Applying multiple thin coats will cure quicker and look better. You want those floors to gleam when you're done.
Tip Number 6 LIGHTLY SAND BEFORE YOUR LAST COAT. I do three coats of poly. You can avoid sanding between coats 1 and 2 if your second coat is applied within 8 hours. That second coat goes on pretty quickly. Keep it thin.
Tip number 7....DO THE LAST COAT OF POLY IN STAGES....refer back to number 1 tip as to why. The second coat of poly is completely dry and no longer tacky anywhere. (If the floor is still tacky...WAIT! The floor must be completely dry before you can tackle this last step.) It took me a week to get the final coat of poly on the floor in my Family Room and Kitchen. I did a three to four foot section the width of the room each day. I used 220 grit sandpaper and a sanding block on my hands and knees. I would sand, clean up the dust and then apply poly. I used blue tape on the wall to remind myself where I had been. I hear you groaning....yes I do! I groaned and moaned and my blisters had blisters.
The reward was this
P.S. The Dinning Room now has two coats of poly. That means very soon I will be on my hands and knees again with step 7. I decided since I cant decorate for fall inside...Im gonna decorate my unfinished front porch. Cobwebs, spiders, pumpkins and lights.....ohhhh myyyyyy!