Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tips for applying Polyurethane to hardwood floors

At this point in the process you may be tempted to rush. You are probably tired of the constant mess and stench. Laying unfinished hardwood floors is not hard. Remember how much money you are saving. Hang in there! All this time and attention to detail will pay off.


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!




28 comments:

Soov said...

And it doesn't get any better! Your floors are absolutely beautiful, Kat. Your attention to detail makes a huge difference.

Gorgeous!

laurel said...

wow! That is absolutely beautiful! I don't believe I have that kind of patience...I guess we'll find out when we move..if the place doesn' have hardwood floors, we'll be putting them in...
How gorgeous is your house going to be Thanksgiving?
You and your talents amaze me!

Kat said...

LOL! You both are full of blarney. This is a boring post unless...you want to do hardwood floors. Now everything is in written form in one place. Took forever to write it.
Lisa...did you notice my numbers were off. LOL! Thank goodness for that edit tool.
Laurel you and M can do this! Its a process but its not hard.

Diane said...

Wow, your floors are going to be so gorgeous, you won't want any furniture to detract from their beauty! :0} Diane

Rose said...

You're a wonder, woman ... or just a Wonder Woman! Those floors are lickable (if you're into licking floors) - lol! Beautiful, gleaming, rich-looking. I don' want to look at my sorry laminate. Maybe I can take pics of your floors and decoupage them on my laminate? Bravo so far - good luck with step 7!

alice said...

OMG, so much work. But your floor is beautiful. I'm saving your directions in case I ever decide to re-finish my floors.

Diane said...

Hi Kat,

I think the winners of the paint splotch contest are Sesame Tahini for most of the walls, it's the closest color to Chief ;0}, and Soft Camel on a couple of accent walls, (under the stair landing & the dining room wall behind the piano. I'll try to take pictures, I was having light issues...

Thanks for your help!
Diane

Martha said...

Kat, the floors look amazing! Way to go, girl!!!

Trægulve said...

What a very beautiful blog. The content, information are excellent. Images are beautiful, I hope you will post more. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Those floors look gorgeous. I did 5 rooms in my house alone about 6 years ago and it was a fisaco. The first room was fair and the rest were a mess because I rushed the poly.

I've since paid a fortune to have three rooms done professionally. I now find myself jobless and have decided to do it right this time in preparation for selling my beautiful home.

I am going to take my time and do it right this time Thanks to your advice on applying the polyurethane.

CT
New Jersey

Katie said...

Hi there! We're working on refinishing the wood floor in our study and came across your tips for staining, sanding and poly etc! We're going to go with the Golden Pecan you used, and we're wondering if we should go with the Satin or Semi-Gloss poly (MinWax). What would you reccomend and why? What did you use? Thanks in advance!

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Anonymous said...

i truthfully enjoy your own writing way, very helpful.
don't give up and keep penning in all honesty , because it just nicely to read it.
looking forward to find out a lot more of your content pieces, regards ;)

Leonard said...

Hello there, Kat! We just finished installing our LA hardwood floors in our house last week. My wife and I are now finding some info on how to maintain its quality and appearance. We had laminate flooring (Los Angeles), by the way. I read some of your tips, too. I think it'll help in the future. Thanks for providing them. Your floor looks great!

R said...

There are a lot of tips, videos, etc..
Your article however, on applying "poly" rates right at the top.
Laying down this product "should ONLY BE APPLIED WITH A BRUSH for best results". A good brush is essential for not leaving any loose bristle in the finish.
What's popular is the "SHED-FREE fabric" rollers.

KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!!

Trev said...

Kat, great info! I am refinishing an old parquet wood floor that has the grain alternating directions. Using a standard applicator caused streaking when the direction of the grain changed (some of the grain is deep and could not be sanded smooth). Using a brush I was able to solve this issue. Slow and painful, but worth it. Thanks!

Kathy said...

Can't argue with number 1. Leaving behind even a single hair on your wooden panel can end up in a disaster! I know - I used to do it (not on my wooden flooring but) on my guitar. I loved the grains on that quilted maple and it all got ruined by a strand of hair! Now I have to settle for a huge, embossed line in my project that's oh so noticeable. I can't imagine what my face would look like if it actually happens to my beloved bedroom flooring.

Kathy Carbone

taminenator said...

tried water-based and it didn't stick and looked like crap. Had to resand and use oil based. What a waste of time.....

Candice said...

Your blog is very helpful. I am in the midst of a floor project right now trying to refinish pine floors in a 140-year old farmhouse. I'm in the final stages of poly and am sick of it. I tries the lambswool pad and it just left lines where I had stopped and started. I've sanded the whole thing and am going to apply the second coat with a brush - wondering what kind of brush you prefer? Natural bristle??

Madaline Foglesong said...

Uh-mazing article. I'm going to buy my polyurethane tomorrow in prep for doing my own floors and this is such a great tool. Your floors look amazing.

Madaline Foglesong said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ellieannsoderstrom said...

Thanks! This helps a lot. I'm about to do my floors and I 'm glad to hear your advice.

Jerry Zhang said...

Your post is really admirable, these tips you have shared are quite helpful. I have add your blog into my favorite list to see the next info, you are going to share with Us !
http://www.timberlandflooring.com.au/products/laminate-flooring/item/laminate-flooring.html

chris mccall said...

I wish I had read this before I finished my floor. Someone helped me put on the last coat. I had been putting my hair up because I had already found a hair in the poly. After my friend helped, I found several hairs. Some, I was able to get out before the poly dried and then I went over it with a brush. But there are a couple that hardened in the poly.
If you have any tricks as to how I might fix this I'd love to hear it.
I was thinking of sanding two planks and reapplying 3 coats of poly. There's no stain on the wood, just poly.

luvprimitive said...

I've been wondering about doing my floors in sections because of the need to be able to get around in the house. You answered that question, along with which polyurethane is better. I can't wait to get started!

luvprimitive said...

I've been wondering about doing my floors in sections because of the need to be able to get around in the house. You answered that question, along with which polyurethane is better. I can't wait to get started!

Alboo@alboo.net said...

It looks like you generate a lot of income from this; wish I had your sense of what a certain market wants.

You don't want your floors to gleam unless you are using a "Gloss" poly, otherwise you have a big mistake and a defective product.

When you tried the lambswool applicator was it when you attempted the water base? Not the proper applicator for that product.

On your waterbase product failing:

I have had the very negative experience of manufacturers shooting themselves in the foot on information provided on the water base gallon cans. I thought "well, it's in gallons it must be for floors." No, I have had to read small print on the back of the can to find verbiage like, "not for floors." Then there is the completely ambiguous where it does not say either way not in the positive or negative.

Alboo@alboo.net said...
This comment has been removed by the author.