How Do You Use a T-Bar to Apply Finish?

Looking to make the switch to a t-bar/roller to apply water-based polyurethane finish? This is a common switch because homeowners are increasingly requesting water-based polyurethane hardwood floor finishes on their floors.

Even if you’ve never used one before, utilizing a t-bar to apply finish is easier that you probably think it is! But there is most definitely a learning curve to it.

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T-Bar Application Techniques

We recommend the t-bar method for water-based polyurethane finishes.

T-bar for applying hardwood floor finish

If you’d like to make the switch to a t-bar/roller to apply hardwood floor finish, check out these three important tips before getting started.

Step 1: Form an exit plan

You can’t just jump right in when applying hardwood floor finish because you could end up backed into a corner! You should start at the far corner of the room, and then work your way to an exit.

If you are finishing more than one room at a time, ensure that the exit at which you are ending up doesn’t lead you to finish that has yet to cure or is not ready to be walked on yet. 

Step 2: Pull the finish correctly

Keep the t-bar at an angle as you’re pulling it to ensure that the finish is applied evenly. This is called the “snowplow” technique because the t-bar should be at the angle of a snowplow as you’re pulling it.

Using the t-bar correctly will help you avoid the appearance of lap marks, turn marks, and uneven sheen levels in the floor.

How to apply hardwood floor finish with a t-bar applicator

Finishing up the final stretch of any room is no easy feat. Use the t-bar to apply the bulk of the finish, and a Padco applicator to pull out any pesky puddles, making sure to go with the grain of the wood when you do this.

Step 3: Keep a wet edge

Don’t let the finish dry out. Keep a wet edge by only putting down as much finish as you need and keeping the correct pace.

Every three feet or so, you should set the roller down and use a Padco or DuraTool applicator at the end of a stick to reach over the finish and take care of the corners and edges. This also helps you maintain your wet edge.

In conclusion…

It has a bit of a learning curve, but this is an important method to learn as the demand for water-based finishes is growing each and every day.

How did you feel when you made the switch to a t-bar applicator from other hardwood floor finish application methods?

2 thoughts on “How Do You Use a T-Bar to Apply Finish?

    1. City Floor Supply


      Yes – you can use a t-bar with most water-based polyurethane finishes. Of course, we always recommend that you double-check the finish manufacturer’s instructions before beginning the process to make sure that a t-bar can be used.


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