Finish didn’t chemically bond and is lifting off

Q: I am having issues with polyurethane peeling off my hardwood floors. I have refinished multiple dressers, tables, chairs, beds, etc. so the idea of refinishing a hardwood floor did not scare me. I used an oil based stain and followed that with an oil based poly.

I followed manufacturer recommendation of applying multiple coats, each within 12-hours of each other to avoid the extra sanding/cleaning that would otherwise be required. The issue that is occurring is lifting of the finish all the way down to the stained wood.

In the areas where it is lifting, I can scrape with my thumb nail and cause adjacent areas to lift. It’s as though the original coat of poly did not absorb into the wood but dried on top. What did I do wrong?

A: I think the answer to the peeling finish is found in what you have said about it. You said: I followed manufacturer recommendation of applying multiple coats, each within 12-hours of each other to avoid the extra sanding/cleaning that would otherwise be required.

Solvent/oil based coatings generally do not offer a chemical bond if another coat is applied within a certain time frame. I’ve never seen directions on these types of finishes that suggest a chemical bond is possible. These coatings need to be buffed/scuffed/scratched with a fine abrasive to gain a mechanical bond between coats. Many water based coatings say buffing is not required if another coat is applied within so many hours. This is not the case with the finish you used.

Follow-up: Guess I should plan on a long vacation with the cat and dog while someone un-does all my hard work. Too bad the finish manufacturers mislead with these statements. With furniture, I always do a little sanding in between, more to remove dust and easy to do when your only talking about a few sq ft.

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