Wood floor finish for a house on stilts

Q: We had a new white oak floor installed and used a Minwax stain that was tinted with white pigment (Sherwin Williams). The installer waited 48 hours after applying the stain. The house is on the water on stilts and heated, set at 60 degrees. He then applied 3 coats of Bona Traffic HD, buffing between coats.

The floor seemed to scratch very easily. I could take my fingernail and scratch the floor. I brought it to the installers attention and he dismissed this as normal because light floors show scratches easily. This, of course, does not make any sense to me. We decided to have the floors buffed and additional coats of Bona Traffic HD applied. We can still scratch the polyurethane off with our finger… ugh. What do we do now and what do you think caused the problem?

A: I’m not surprised you have a failure here. I am surprised the floor has not buckled. You are surrounded by water. Has anyone put a moisture meter on these floors as well as a hygrometer set on the floor to check it’s temperature and moisture levels?

Minwax stains are high solvent and slow drying under the best of conditions. You would have been much better off using Dura Seal Quick Coat stain. Dura-Seal is a subsidiary of Min Wax and this fast dry stain line matches the Min Wax color line. Traffic is Bona’s flagship finish. No way it should be marking and just pulling off. Nothing is dry or hardened.

Under these extreme conditions, I think I would go with a stain that does not include adding white or any other pastel color and finish it with an oil finish.

You need something that is going to breathe easy because you must have significant moisture transferring through that floor.

Follow-up Q: Thank you for your quick response. Since I want to go with light floors would I be better off sanding back not using any stain and just using a water-based polyurethane so I would not get any yellowing? Could you explain why you feel oil based polyurethane would be better in the situation?

A: I didn’t mean an oil-based polyurethane. I meant an oil finish such as Waterlox or polymerized tung oil. I suggested this because of the extreme environmental conditions this floor is existing in. A penetrating oil finish won’t peel. Of course, if you want a floor that doesn’t darken and stays as light as possible the only option is a water-based polyurethane.

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