Hardwood Flooring
Hardwood Flooring

Planning for a quality Hardwood Floor Refinish

Every week I do a number of hardwood refinishing estimates for homeowners and one of the most frequent questions asked is how long the process will take. The question is somewhat of a loaded question because a number of factors apply to the process. Two primary factors apply to the length of a standard hardwood refinish project: the type of finish used and the number of finish coats applied. Additional factors to consider may be if any repairs need to be done to the wood floor prior to sanding. Oftentimes pets may consistently urinate in spots of the home or during the watering process plants may overflow onto the wood floor, which causes dark spots from mold growth. The sanding process will not remove these stains usually, so a suitable repair with matching material is most often necessary.
The two predominant types of finish used in wood floor refinishing are oil based and waterbased finishes. Oil based finishes most commonly used are polyurethane and acid-curing Swedish finishes. Oil modified polyurethane has the slowest dry time and typically requires a full day of dry time between coats. Acid-curing Swedish finish systems are catalyzed chemically for the seal coats, which allows application of two coats in a day. The top coat is a much slower one day process of drying. In contrast most waterbased finishes will dry within 2-3 hours depending on the catalyst and coverage rate. I have seen waterbased floors coated with three coats in one day, although I do not recommend this typically.
Two additional key terms to understand are dry time and cure time. Dry time of a finish is the amount of time that it takes for the finish to be dry to the touch and walked on so that nothing sticks to the finish. Cure time is the amount of time that it takes for the finish to completely off-gas and achieve 100% of it’s hardness. The cure time of a typical water-based finish is approximately one week, although most waterborne finished are 90% cured within 48 hours. By comparison a typical oil-based finish has a longer cure time of 30-90 days.
Now that I have confused you thoroughly let me offer my best advice based on experience. I rarely recommend anyone to move in on a water-based floor in under 24 hours, although I allow my customers to walk on the finish sooner if required. Water-based finishes are very durable within an overnight dry time so that the floor can be walked on the morning after a final coat. By contrast I rarely recommend walking on a oil-based finish floor in under 24 hours and not moving in heavy furniture in under 48 hours. For a typical 800-1200 square foot hardwood floor refinish I would suggest allowing 5 days for the entire process of refinishing if three water-based finish coats are to be applied. Allow an additional 2-3 days if the floor is to be stained or oil-modified finish applied. If you have questions, then visit our website or e-mail us.

Leave a Comment