Install Wood Flooring Series: Finishing
Choose the best protective finish for your new floor, and learn how to apply it right
Put a white pad on the buffer and go over the entire floor one time to make sure no residue comes off. At this stage, I wear blue booties over my boots to avoid contaminating the floor. After buffing, go over the floor with a tack cloth to be sure there is nothing on the floor. Things so small you can’t see them from where you’re standing will make the finish look like it has giant rocks in it.
I use a commercial two-part water-based sealer. There are two methods of application: either snowplowing or using a roller. Add a hardener to the sealer, shake it vigorously for about 45 seconds, and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Apply a 6- to 8-inch swath of finish the length of the floor on one side of the room. Use a pad applicator to get it up to the wall, and then start snowplowing. When you get to the end and make the turn, go back to straighten it out so that the finish isn’t thicker where you made the turn.
Using the roller is similar, but you may have to apply the finish in shorter swaths.
Once the first coat is dry, go over the floor with a microfiber tack cloth.
Use the buffer to prepare the floor so that the next coat of finish will stick. Some contractors save the screen they used on the buffer during the sanding sequence; they turn it over for inter-coat abrading. But I think it leaves deep scratches, so I use an abrasive pad instead—about 320-grit. If the grain is raised, I apply small strips of sandpaper to the abrasive pad. You have to sand by hand along the wall. Don’t over-sand the floor; just abrade it. The resulting powder should have the consistency of baby powder. If the powder starts to gum up the paper, you know the finish wasn’t ready for inter-coat abrading or for putting another coat on. Vacuum the floor when you’re done sanding, and then go over it with the tack cloth again. Vacuum diagonally first, then with the grain. Use the microfiber mop to get anything left behind.
In this members-only video series: