Peeling finish

Q: We have pine floors in our home and we did a scuff with an 80 grit sandpaper to make it so the polyurethane will adhere to it. We used 2 coats of low luster as a base and 1 coat of high gloss to finish. The problem is my high gloss is peeling.

It doesn’t seem to be the first 2 coats just the high gloss. The other weird thing is – We have 2 areas of this room the one was covered in the carpet the other has been redone before. Well, the area that was redone before is not having any peeling issues. It seems that the peeling stops where the pine flooring that has been uncovered begins. We used the same on both sides and did both at the same time.

I am dumbfounded and don’t know why the floor would be doing this. My father who is a flooring installer is flabbergasted as to why. He thought the paint may have been bad but, that would not explain why I have good adhesion to the one side of the floor and not the other. This flooring is about 68 years old and about 3/4 inch thick still a lot to work with. What do you suggest?

A: There are 2 immediate issues that can cause peeling. Lack of or insufficient buffing to gain a mechanical bond between coats. Did you buff after each coat of finish?

Contaminants on the floor or finish surface which prevent a good bond. For example, if a floor had been waxed or an oil soap had been used to clean the surface, it could and likely would result in adhesion failure. Depending what the cause is, you will at least have to remove the finish down to the last stable coat. That coat will then have to be thoroughly abraded.

Curious that you would use a satin first and then a gloss on top. Generally I go the other way. I use gloss first, and then a satin or semi last if that is what is requested. The main reason for this is the flattening agent used in satin polyurethane. Sometimes it can cause issues with streaking or irregular shine etc. Are the satin and gloss that you used both made by the same company? Perhaps you could contact the manufacturer and ask them if there are any issues with the procedure you used.

Reply: With the floor we buffed each coat and where it is peeling got the most abrasion in the first place. The two cans of paint we have are from the same brand and the technique is good. The floor does not seem to have any problems with luster or streaking. The other half we just finished looks beautiful we did them at the same time. One half had rug on it the other none. The one side was refinished some time ago. Seeing that only half the floor is peeling if it were a problem with the scuffing I can only see that the whole floor would have problems with peeling not only the half that was covered in carpet. I am unsure if there were any oils and such used on the floor but, if there were would not the other 2 coats be peeling as well. It seems as though it is only the high gloss coat that has begun to peel. Do you have any more ideas I thought about maybe the wax or some type of stuff was used but, only the one coat is failing and only on the one side of the floor that was previously covered in carpet. I have no idea.

A: OK, so you have applied 3 coats of finish to 2 rooms. You used satin for the first coat and gloss for the final. One of those rooms was covered in carpet. You fully abraded between all coats of finish, and the finish all came from one manufacturer. However, in spite of proper preparation, the gloss coat on one room is peeling off. Do I have this all correct?

If you prepared all areas at the same time, and applied the same finish at the same time, I don’t have an answer. I would suggest you contact the polyurethane manufacturer. Maybe one of their chemists will have an answer.

Finish peeling on edges of boards

Related Q: I installed a new red oak hardwood floor in a new home. We sanded it, cleaned it, stained it with a min wax stain, then applied three coats of poly to it. Along the edges of the boards, some of the finish is turning white like the finish is lifting? Why?

A: It does sound as if the finish is peeling. The most likely reason is insufficient sanding between coats of finish. It is this fine buffing or scratching that sets up the between coats.

Topcoat peeling off

Similar Q: I helped a friend refinish his floor 3 weeks ago. We sanded down to bare wood, sealed it, screened, vac’d and tacked applied the 2nd coat. At that point, he said he could finish the job. Now the top coat is peeling off. I think he skipped the vac and tack part. Can we screen off the loose top coat and reapply another coat? The finish under the loose top coat appears perfect. We used a water based poly. Thanks again for your help.

A: Water based coatings generally allow a window of time where you can apply an additional coat without buffing the previous coat. If that window is exceeded then it has to be thoroughly scuffed up like any other finish to ensure good adhesion. Another issue can be contaminants finding their way onto the previous coating.

You say you tacked the coating before applying another. What exactly did you use? Many people have Swiffer’s in their house. If you read the product data sheet it indicates wax is part of their product. If you used this and wax has gotten onto the previous coat, you may as well start over because at some point it will likely all peel off. You could, otherwise, if the above is not the case, give it an aggressive buffing with fine sand paper for the edges and a polisher and screen and apply another coat.