7 Quick Tips For Applying Oil-Based Polyurethane to Wood Floors

7 Quick Tips For Applying Oil-Based Polyurethane to Wood Floors
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Polyurethane is one of the best ways to give your wood floors a beautiful shine while protecting them from damage.

But its lovely clear shine also makes it a bit frustrating to apply because you can’t always clearly see where you’ve applied the product.

This is especially true when you’re applying a second and third coat!

If you’re unfamiliar with using polyurethane (or you didn’t like the results the last time you used it) here are some tips that might help make your project go more smoothly.:

1. Ensure adequate ventilation

This is very important. Open a window and use a window fan to pull out the excess fumes.

2. Prepare the floor

The amount of preparation needed depends on the existing state of your floors. 

Use masking tape along the baseboards to prevent them from getting an unwanted coat of polyurethane. Alternatively, you can use a small brush to apply the product next to and a few inches away from the baseboards.

If your floor has an existing coating, help the poly adhere by stripping the old coating with an orbital floor sander. Newly installed floors should also be scuff sanded before applying the polyurethane.

3. Thoroughly clean the floor

Vacuum dust and debris from your floor prep using the soft brush attachment with your shop-vac. Next, wipe down the floors with a lint-free cloth moistened with mineral spirits.

4. Wear a respirator 

Use an organic vapor respirator both during application and as much as a day or two after it’s applied if you plan to be in the room for a length of time.

5. Mind the cord

During application, keep the fan’s electrical cord off of the floor. One way to do this is to split and cut some flex tubing into pieces and then screw it into the wall. Weave the fan’s electrical cord through the tubing to keep it off the floor while you’re applying the poly.

6. Follow manufacturer’s directions

Some oil-based polyurethanes made for floors will advise that if the second (and third) coat of poly is applied within 12 hours of the previous one that no sanding between coats is needed.

Pay close attention to the manufacturer’s directions. If your product states that sanding between coats is required, then take the time to do so if you want good results.

7. Choose the right tools

Finally, choose the right tool to achieve the results you want.

Lambswool pad applicators are the most often recommended tool for applying oil-based polyurethane, but you can also use a roller that’s approved for use with oil-based paints and stains. Just make sure to match the roller with the floor you’re applying the poly too. 

For example, it’s possible to apply polyurethane to plywood floors as a protectant and sealant, but the rough nature of these floors will require a high nap brush that’s specifically made for a rough surface.

Here are some more posts on flooring:

Buying Reclaimed Hardwood Flooring…Is it Worth It?

How to Maintain the Wooden Floor

Choosing the Perfect Hardwood Flooring for your Home