Just Had My Wood Floors Refinished with a Urethane

Now, what?



Ain't it great, having your wood floors refinished with those fresh coatings of urethane?  The tired, old look is gone! They're beaufiful! And, you really don't want to ever go through that, again.

The logistics, alone, were foreboding, right?  The kid-sitters, the doggy-kennel, stopping the mail.  Moving the grand piano.  Maybe even a couple, three nights at the in-laws. Sheesh!

Tell us, what do we need to do to keep our wood floors looking decent?

First, Be sure to Use these when returning heavy furnishings, pianos, appliances.

This thick, but flexible sheet of plastic make a nice landing pad when you bring the fridge back into the kitchen on a dolly.

Simply place this in front of the appliance space.  Set the fridge on it.  Make your connections, and slide the appliance off it, and into the appliance space.

It is also easy to grab when you need to place a ladder on your wood floor.  Use it for a safe surface to set a paint can.


No such thing as a final coat with wood floors refinished

If your floor guy uses that terminology to describe his last trip around your floor with a mop and a bucket of urethane finish, just know that a final coat does not exist.  It is a misnomer.  There is no such thing.

There is only the last coat before you need another coat. Regular maintenance - re-coating - will be the only way to avoid that next re-sanding. Barring something catastrophic, we want to avoid re-sanding.

How long before the next coat?

  • Do you have kids that live at home?
  • Do you have pets?
  • Is your wood floor in a kitchen, or dinette, or foyer?
  • Is there gravel or sand outside of your home?
  • Are you in the habit of taking off your shoes upon entry?
  • Would you happen to have a swimming pool just beyond those sliding doors?

Obviously, my point is that who owns the floor, and where it is located in the home will determine the maintenance schedule.  Your floor guy may have asked a few of these lifestyle questions when you first met.

Your floor guy may have offered an extra coat option, if you answered yes to any of the above.  My advice, if schedule allows, is to err on the side of caution and get the extra coat(s.)  It could save you heartache and money.

You see, cleaning comes first in any maintenance of an existing urethane-finished floor.  That takes time, materials, and adds to the per square foot cost of the job.  But, it is necessary when prepping an old finish for new.

If, however, in the normal sequence of initial coatings, after the floor has been sanded to the bare wood, no cleaning is necessary.  Provided, of course, that your floor guy has had the place to himself.

A good rule of thumb for heavier trafficked areas is every 2 to 4 years.  8 to 10 years, otherwise.  These are just rules of thumb, and these rules of thumb are for urethane-finished floors, only.

Does this last coat get buffed out, or something?

Yes, by you.  That baby's behind smoothness your old floor had was not there, at first.  Now, with the wood floors refinished, you're starting over, and it is something your tootsies will achieve, with time and use.

I have been to the flooring factories in Sweden, Norway, and Germany that engineered and perfected the pre-finishing process back in the 1900's.  It's an amazing process involving conveyors, sprayers, and UV lights.

Short of hiring a flying floor guy, or moving your floor to a spray booth, it is completely unrealistic that a human can compete with the factory results.  But, we try. How?

I think it is important to mention these best practices because I know many folks will be tempted to do their own maintenance coats.  So, here we go:

  • buy an excellent vac
  • buff out each coat, prior to the next coat
  • vac and tac prior to each coat
  • minimize air movement
  • wear a hat
  • make sure your feet are clean
  • have good light
  • have clean, new applicators
  • once you start a coat, never leave the floor

You do all that, and there still will be something, somewhere.  Don't beat yourself up. You did what you could, and you did it like a pro.

Thinking of going pro?  With these, you could.

The backpack vac is perfect for maintenance work.  However, in this video, one of the apprentices I used to have shows you how to get wood floors refinished without the dust, which does require a large canister vac.

Wood floors refinished FAQ 

When can we walk on it?

The usual answer for that last coat will be, "Next day. Light traffic only."  In between coats will vary depending on the urethane that was used.  

How long before we can move furniture back?

Whatever you can afford, is my usual answer.  Urethanes dry and cure at different rates.  Some waterborne urethanes will suggest a week.  Some oil based urethanes will recommend a month.  Whatever you can afford.

For sure, and this goes for the life of your floor, always set furniture in place, if you can.  Avoid sliding anything, especially that heavy bedroom furniture.  And, floor protectors, people.  Every table & chair leg needs felt.

How about area rugs?

The manufacturer of the urethane will always recommend a complete cure time before areas rugs are returned.  A week to a month is the answer, depending on what type of urethane was used.

How should I clean my newly refinished wood floors?

Do not wash your fresh finish until it is cured, and that will depend on the urethane, again.  Initially, try to just sweep, if you can.  After cure, I recommend water and a microfiber mop.

When will the smell be gone?

When the finish is cured.  Different urethanes will off-gas at different rates depending on what type of urethane it is.  The curing process is what is generating the smell.

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