Rolling vs. Pulling Hardwood Floor Finish

In the above video, Joe and Mike demonstrate the differences between rolling and pulling wood floor finish. They do this using Basic Coatings products including the Tykote System, StreetShoe NXT, and Basic Coatings Pure Matte.

When should you roll hardwood floor finish?

Rolling Wood Floor Finish

Many contractors are hesitant to try rolling finish simply because they haven’t tried it, and the technique is a bit advanced.

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Rolling finish is better for multidirectional flooring like parquet and herringbone because it is less likely to result in streaking. Streaks are less likely to appear when you roll finish because you are putting energy into the application, which ensures that any bubbles will break.

In this video, Mike and Joe are working with a herringbone panel, so they decide to roll the finish 90 degrees to the site angle. In this case, rolling the finish is the better option of the two because it eliminates the likelihood of streaks appearing, which multidirectional floors are more prone to show.

Rolling finish also makes backing out of a tight space or a long run on a jobsite much easier; the process more forgiving when tying things together, so it’s a good technique to have in your repertoire even for when you’re not dealing with multidirectional floors.

Always make sure the finish is formulated for rolling! Otherwise, you will get stipple.

Pointers for rolling finish:

  • Make sure the finish is formulated for rolling, otherwise you will get stipple. In this case, EasyStreet is formulated to roll, which is why we are able to do so with the product in this video.
  • Don’t overwork the finish
  • Make sure to keep a wet edge while rolling.
  • Don’t work the roller and don’t put too much pressure on it. Let the roller do its job!
  • Make sure the roller is wet when you start applying the finish.
  • Blend the roller edges with those of the edger.
  • Rinse the applicator out with water before applying finish to make sure they are clean and fiber-free.
  • Make sure that the roller itself is always turning. Pin-striped rollers are good for this. If it stops turning/starts skidding, you’ll be pulling rather than rolling. The roller movement is much easier to see with a pin-striped roller than a plain roller.

When should you pull hardwood floor finish?

Pulling wood floor finish

Pulling lets you apply finish quickly. With the right conditions and a large enough applicator, a gym floor applicator can pull 8-10,000 square feet of finish per hour. Rolling is typically a more delicate process.

Normally you can simply pull finish on a floor that is not multidirectional because streaking is not as likely. But if you want to roll, you can, as long as the product is formulated for rolling!

Tips for pulling wood floor finish with a t-bar applicator:

  • Make sure to keep a wet edge. Have someone else pour while you pull
  • Wet the applicator out at first and squeegee it out to get the excess finish off so you’re not dripping on the floor.
  • Follow the grain of the wood when pulling.
  • Also wash the applicator out, just as you would with a roller.
  • Feather out the turn marks when they happen.
  • Plan how you’re going to back out.

Watch our video on t-bar application techniques below:

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