Q imported from our old site, Face Lift Floors: We have sanded and stained our oak wood floors. We have put on 2 coats of water-based polyurethane. The floor still feels rough. How do you get that hard smooth finish?
A: Professionals sometimes find water-based urethanes hard to apply. There are specific rules to be followed in applying any finish, whether oil or water based. With water-based polyurethane finishes, you generally don’t have to buff after each coat to achieve adhesion if it is applied within so many hours. But, you always have to buff it once. Water-based urethanes raise the grain of the wood to some extent.
After the first or second coat, you have to buff the floor smooth, tack rag with a slightly damp cloth after vacuuming, and apply another coat. It should also be said that you must make sure the stain is dry, or you could have adhesion failure of the finish.
It also needs to be said that you must allow the water-based finish to dry back to the original moisture content in the wood before applying another coat of finish. You can know this by using a moisture meter and hygrometer.
This is not a job to be done by the homeowner, in most cases. I have been at it for over 30 years, and with all that time, it can be a very stressful job. You might do well to check out the Q & A at www.duraseal.com. They are a major water-based urethane manufacturer. They have a cause and effect/solution section.
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We have done the second coat of polyurethane but the floor is still rough and not shiny
Q imported from our old site, Face Lift Floors: We have done the second coat of polyurethane but the floor is still rough and not shiny – do we continue with the same process of sanding with 120 and then polish again?
A: Are you using gloss polyurethane? The typical flavors are satin, semi gloss and gloss. Adding additional coats does not change the gloss level since each coat is buffed to remove the gloss prior to the next coat. Whose finish are you applying?
And how are you applying it? It is often recommended that the finish is stirred well prior to application. Some can be applied with a roller, but I prefer using a lambswool applicator, which is attached to a wooden block (2 pieces, a top, and bottom, held tight by 2 wing nuts). After you have thoroughly buffed the floor, and vacuumed well, it is a good practice to tack rag the floor with a lint-free cloth. Wet the cloth with water, and squeeze it as dry as you can get it, then wipe the entire floor surface to remove all contamination that may have been missed with the vacuum. Make sure you suck the dust out of any air vents you have.
I would suggest preventing any air movement across the floor at least for several hours until the finish has started to set up. This will allow the finish to flow out and level properly. Therefore, it should be room temperature when applying, around 70 F, but cut off the furnace for an hour or 2 until the finish has had a chance to settle.
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