Sealing Wood Floors
After wood flooring has been stripped or sanded down the final step is to seal it. Sealing wood floors however is not just a functional part of the process to protect it from wear. There are a number of options available beyond simply using a coat of the first varnish that comes to hand and there are a number of further preparatory and precautionary steps required before sealing wood floors so as to ensure the right result and to ensure the long term well being of the floor.
Sealing wood floors with the right finish is part of the decoration process It’s like choosing the right paint or floor covering.
Howeverthere may be some repairs and further preparation required. A much more attractive final look to pine, hardwood or parquet block flooring is achieved by ensuring that all the gaps are filled in before sealing it. Flaws won’t always be covered up by the sealant. The right time to carry out any repair work is prior to sealing it.
Sealing wood floors without filling in the gaps is not recommended. The sealant is not a filler. You might have to replace whole damaged boards completely before sealing wood floors. If you do, try to find reclaimed ones. It’s better for the environment, should be cheaper, and if the boards are of similar age and have endured similar wear to they old ones they will look better than new ones.
Sealing wood floors which is already more consistent in appearance across the whole space will produce a more professional looking result.
Filling gaps before sealing wood floors
The easiest way of filling any gaps before sealing wood floors is to mix fine sanding dust created during the sanding process with resin and use it as filler. But to avoid a rough appearance after you’ve finished, the dust used should be as fine as possible. Use a standard non-waterproof PVA glue to mix with the dust.
If you use a solvent based filling product, don’t be too concerned about any odour given off. The room should be well ventilated anyway, for safety reasons and the odour should dissipate completely after you’ve finished sealing the wood floors in an adequately ventilated room. But whether it’s water or a solvent-based filler follow the instructions carefully.
Another popular method is to buy fillet strips of solid (usually reclaimed) wood, cut and fit them into any gaps. They are then left overnight to dry and the excess planed and sanded off the next day before the process of sealing wood floors starts. The final outcome is better than trying to fill large gaps with dust and resin mix.
Before starting sealing wood floors it is also advisable, if you can, to check the state of the sub floor. Sealing wood floors where the subfloor is damaged is not advisable. The most likely problem would be damp and sealing wood floors where there is continued contact with damp from underneath will not be a great success.
After stripping, sanding, filling, repairing etc, the process of sealing wood floors can finally start.
Options for Sealing Wood Floors
Sealing wood floors using an Acrylic finish is very popular as brushes can be cleaned with water and the fumes given off are far les than a solvent based material.
Sealing wood floors using a good quality lacquer will protect the wood and will last for many years. Given the time effort that’s likely to have already been expended to reach this stage sealing wood floors with a quality product is worth the time and money. These are available in either 2 part lacquers (where you have to mix 2 components) or pre catalysed.
Sealing wood floors with a cheap product may result in more costs in the long run. You should also when give some consideration to the maintenance and cleaning regime required for the finish you choose.
Sealing wood floors with waxes and oils achieves a duller, more natural and subtle effect, than some other sealants but you will need to maintain the floor coating more regularly. There are many specialist oils on the market. Depending on wear you may need to attend to it annually. Sealing wood floors with lacquer however makes for an easier to maintain finish that will not stain and is easy to keep clean.
Provided it’s maintained properly an Acrylic finish can last upwards of three years and sealing wood floors with a high quality 2 part lacquer will achieve an outcome which could last well over five or as long as ten years. The best way to significantly reduce wear to the floor is to avoid wearing outdoor shoes in the house, and the top professional tip is to ensure that the next recoat is applied in advance of the old seal wearing through, so avoiding the need for a full re-sand before starting the process of sealing wood floors again
The Final Stage
- After the sanding, repair and filling process is complete vacuum the floor and wipe it down with a tack cloth to pick up the last of the fine dust
- If you’re sealing wood floors and want to introduce some added vitality, they are available in many colours but make sure you test on a piece of the actual wood you are going to apply as they can vary dramatically on what you may expect. Best to use a solvent based penetrating stain. Apply the coating using a rag or a roller, following the grain of the wood. Apply the coat as evenly as possible and avoid applying too much in one go.
Choose the stain carefully avoid water based stains as they will raise the grain of the wood and you may find that you have to sand the wood again. Allow the floor to dry for at least an hour and keep the room well ventilated
- It make no difference if your sealing wood floors using a plain polyurethane varnish or a high quality 2 part lacquer, use a fine good quality brush or lint free roller and always follow the grain of the wood. Let the first coat dry for around eight hours. The dry surface will be smooth and hard so you will need to lightly sand and clean it again with a tack cloth before applying the next coat.
Polyurethane and lacquers are available in all finishes from mat to high gloss. Any Liquids spilled will form into beads and are easy to clean up
Check out our other coming articles on stripping wood flooring, types of wood seals and treatments, wooden floor maintenance and cleaning and how to sand floors