Part 3 of 3 is on selecting and applying the perfect finish to your floors.
Once you have a perfectly clean and exposed floor, it is time to begin the process of applying the final finish. The first coat should be applied the same day sanding is finished (this will keep the wood from getting dirty and absorbing moisture). Plan on allowing the floor to dry over 72 hours. Replace the shoe molding and any other fixtures you removed during prep.
If you plan on using a penetrating sealer, the floor will require waxing.
* Finding the right finish
Stain: If you want a different color than natural wood, the first step is to apply a stain. The stain alone will need at most 8 hours to dry before you apply the sealer. You can also combine the stain and sealer to create a uniform look but will require longer drying time.
Penetrating Sealer: These products go into the pores of the wood. They can found in clear or tinted colors and can be premixed with stains. Usually two coats are required. You can buff the penetrating sealer while it’s wet to create a sheen stain. The final coat should be of paste or liquid wax but CAN NOT be a water base.
Surface Finish: These provide a clear coat over stained or sealed wood. Polyurethanes have replaced most traditional finishes, such as varnish, shellac, and lacquer. It is water base, synthetic resins, plastic compounds, and other film forming ingredients that produce a durable, moisture resistant surface finish. This is a good choice for areas that are subject to water.
Finishing the Floor
Tools: Paintbrush, floor buffer, lamb’s wool applicator, foam painting pad.
- Applying a stain: Pour all of the stain you plan to use into a bucket and make sure to mix it thoroughly. Dip a clean dry rag into the stain and spread it liberally over the entire floor. *Near walls, apply the stain with a paintbrush.
Wait 5-10 min allowing the stain to penetrate the pores of the wood. Use clean rags to wipe up any excess stain and let it dry overnight.
After staining, it is recommended that you buff with a floor buffer or No.2 steel wool. Follow this with a good vacuum and your floor is ready for sealer or finish.
- Applying Penetrating Sealer: Penetrating sealing is a free flowing liquid that can be applied with a clean rag, brush, or lamb’s wool applicator.
Apply the sealer liberally letting it flow into the pores of the wood. Be sure to start in a corner next to wall so that you can avoid walking over any wet sealer.
After the sealer has penetrated all the way through wipe up any excess with dry rags and let the sealer dry the recommended time.
*If you’re not applying a surface finish, be sure to apply a second coat of the penetrating sealer.
Last but not least, apply a coat of liquid non water based wax.
- Applying a Surface Finish: To apply polyurethane, use a clean brush to lay down a coat along the walls and corners. Then use lamb’s wool to apply the finish evenly over the entire floor.
*For water base polyurethane, use a foam painting pad and apply the finish across the grain, then use smooth brush strokes in the direction of the grain.
Two or three coats are typically required for polyurethane. Allow the first to dry, then buff with No.2 steel wool or buffing pad. Clean the floor with the vacuum, then go over it with a damp towel to pick up tiny fragments. It is very important to be thorough because anything that remains will be sealed in once you apply the second coat.
Finally, when the second coat is clean and dry, it’s time to apply the final finish working across the grain.