Get tips on staining and sealing a wood floor. Find out how long to wait between coats when applying polyurethane, and learn what may happen if the second coat is applied too soon.
LESLIE: Laurie in North Dakota is refinishing some wood floors. Tell us what’s going on.
LAURIE: Hi. I’m calling to see about my interior wood floor . I am wondering if I need to let it cure for any length of time after we’ve put the stain on it, before we put our furniture back on.
TOM: So this is a brand new wood floor?
LAURIE: No, it’s not.
TOM: But you say you stained it? What did you do? What was the project that you did, Laurie?
LAURIE: We’re stripping it right now and sanding it down and I’m going to stain it.
TOM: (overlapping voices) OK.
LAURIE: We haven’t stained it quite yet.
TOM: Yeah. No, once you stain it, you can literally re-urethane it the next day; you know, as long as the stain dries. You don’t have to let it “cure” or anything like that. Just go ahead and move right through from staining to sealing.
LAURIE: OK. And then how about once we put the polyurethane on, do we need to let it cure for any length of time then?
TOM: Ah, that’s a whole separate matter. (chuckles)
TOM: Because the polyurethanes, even the ones that say “quick-dry,” are generally not and you do need to let them dry thoroughly. And it takes quite a while before you can really start to beat up the floor.
So, what you want to do is you want to apply the polyurethane with a lambs wool applicator. So you don’t want to brush it on; you don’t want to roll it on.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) You want to sort of like mop it on.
TOM: (overlapping voices) A lambs wool applicator is more like a mop. Right? You kind of mop it on. And you work your way out of the room. And then it helps if you have a little bit of heat on it; it helps it dry quicker, even if it’s warm that day. A little bit of heat helps it dry and evaporate quicker.
So you’re going to probably wait at least a full day; maybe even two days before you put a second coat on. And then you add a second coat; let that dry. And then I would leave maybe some rosin paper or something down in the traffic areas. And when you put your furniture back, even if it seems to be dry to walk on, be very careful about sliding furniture and really being too rough on it, until a good month or so has passed because it does take quite a while for it to really harden up.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you do have to make sure that between coats, Laurie, that you do let it absolutely dry because if, for some reason, it’s still a little tacky and not quite dry when you put that second coat on, it will never dry.
LESLIE: There’s something that happens between the two coats that just causes it to sort of be like …
TOM: It seals in its gumminess.
LESLIE: Yeah, gelatinous. Like it’s very strange, so you have to make sure that first coat is super-duper dry before you apply the second.
TOM: And the damper it is outside, the longer it’s going to take.
LAURIE: Alright. We won’t rush into that second coat then.
LAURIE: OK. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Laurie. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.