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Hardwood Floor Help

My fiancé and I just bought a house (actually an old farm house that her grandfather grew up in). We tore up the old carpet (previous renters had cats in the house that peed everywhere, even though the rental agreement said NO pets inside), and found the original Pine floors (each board is nearly an inch thick). We rented a sander, but found that the old finish on them simply gummed up the pads (which were 5.75 a pack) after about 10 seconds. We consulter her grandfather who remembered that they had put "Gym Floor Coating Down" and not just varnish because they were fed up with the maintenance. I found that by chemically stripping the old floor using a gel type stripper that the sanding went much quicker and a lot cheaper (way less sanding pads ruined).

However, now I'm concerned that some of the gel might just be sitting in the small gaps between each board, and I don’t want to put the new finish down just to have it ruined. Am I overly nervous about this or what would you recommend? We will wipe the entire floor down with mineral spirits before applying the new finish.

Also, I know that with MINWAX floors water based poly, you have to put down a basecoat first (to help seal the wood and preven tanins from reacting and giving an uneven finish), is there something similar if you use Varathanes Diamond Floor Finish that you have to put down first to seal it?


Re: Hardwood Floor Help

I would consider using de-waxed shellac as your seal coat. These are sold as "universal sealers".De-waxed shellac is an excellent sealer which will stick to almost anything and to which almost any top coat is compatible, including urethane floor varnishes. A bonus is that it is an excellant odor sealer against pet odors embedded deep in the wood.
Home Depot sells a version of universal sealer in the floor urethanes section.

Shellac is often used because it tends to impart a warm, natural look to the wood, especially when clear water based urethanes are used as the top coats. The water based urethanes to not have the slight amber tone that oil based urethanes have and they do not yellow with age.

Shellac, being alcohol based, does not tend to pucker the grain of the wood, as do water based products.

A. Spruce
Re: Hardwood Floor Help

You are not going to want to use Minwax finishes for anything but a garbage can weight. They are extremely hard to work with and end in poor finish quality. Minwax stains are great, it is their clear top coats that are not good.

You may want to consider General brand of finishes, they come highly recommended by the other pros on this site. I have not personally used them, but I trust my colleagues.

Re: Hardwood Floor Help

I too, would recommend against Minwax. I only use OldMasters brand. It has excellent self leveling properties and dries to a hard, durable finish. What ever you use make sure it is recommended for use on floors not all finishes are.


Re: Hardwood Floor Help

The Varathane floor coatings are reenforced with aluminum oxide, the same stuff sandpaper is made from, and much tougher than the Minwax.

The oil based finishes are generally self-priming, i.e. you just use multiple coats of the same product. A light sanding or screening is generally given after the first coat to settle the raised grain. Also, urethanes have a window in which you can re-coat without sanding - usually no sooner than 4 hours nor later than 12 hours. Urethanes don't like to stick to themselves once they are fully cured. If you wait too long, you need to once again scuff sand the surface.

As stated in my last post, you can use de-waxed shellac as a sealer with urethane finishes.

Oil floor coatings are applied with a lambskin pad on a broomstick. Water based versions use a similar pad, but of synthetic construction.

Re: Hardwood Floor Help

Thanks for all the help!

I just want to make sure I have this completely right. If I use an Oil-based Poly (i.e. Varathane for floors), I don't need a sealer before applying to bare wood. But if I use a Water-based Poly (i.e. Varathane Diamond for floors), I do need a sealer of some sort.

After reading the previous replies, I don't think I'll be going with Minwax (I only had that idea from watching Tom's video on refinishing floors), which is ok with me since that was going to be like $70 a gallon and I was going to need about 4 or 5 gallons of it (both the sealer and the poly). Any thoughts about the Varathane line of products, yay or nay?

Thanks again!

Re: Hardwood Floor Help

The water based urethanes generally have a dedicated sanding sealer. The water inherently raised the grain. The sanding sealer will allow you to lightly sand down the raised grain before putting on the top coats.

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