The Top 5 Mistakes Made When Applying Finish to Hardwood Floors

As a company that interacts with contractors on a regular basis, we understand that applying hardwood floor finish can be a challenging task, and we’ve basically seen it all over the past 30 years! If hardwood floor finish is applied incorrectly, it can lead to a range of issues, including an uneven surface, bubbles, and even peeling, all of which will lead to callbacks from your customers. To help ensure your next project is a success, here are the top five mistakes we see contractors make when applying hardwood floor finish.

#1: Not Preparing the Surface Properly

The first step in applying a hardwood floor finish is to ensure the surface is properly prepared. This means sanding down the wood using the appropriate grit sequence to remove any imperfections and create a smooth surface for the finish to adhere to. If the surface is not properly prepared, the finish can peel, bubble, or exhibit a ton of other issues.

#2: Not Spot-Testing the Finish 

Before applying the finish, it is important to test it on a small, inconspicuous area of the floor like in the corner of a closet. This will help you to determine if the product is going to react well with the flooring.

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It’s also important to do the same with any other products that you plan on applying, including stain, to make sure that when it interacts with and dries along with the finish, you get the end result and color that you and your clients are looking for. Even though it might be tempting to skip this process so you can get straight to work, don’t do it! It could lead to big issues down the road if you learn that your products are incompatible only after you’ve applied them to the entire length of the room.

#3: Not Following the Manufacturer’s Recommendations

No matter how much time you have in the game, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the application of the hardwood floor finish. This includes the number of coats to apply, the drying time between coats, and the recommended tools for application. The recommendations and instructions are there for a reason – no one knows the product better than the manufacturers! Failure to follow these recommendations can lead to a ton of headaches.

#4: Applying Too Much Finish

Although you may think that the more coats of finish you apply, the more effective the finish will be, applying too much finish can actually lead to a surface that is sticky, taking longer to dry and potentially causing bubbles. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s recommended amount of finish per square foot and to spread it evenly, and to only apply the recommended amount of coats to the floor.

#5: Not Protecting the Finished Floor

Finally, it is important to protect the finished floor until it is fully cured. This means avoiding heavy foot traffic and not placing furniture on the floor until the recommended cure time has passed, even if your clients insist otherwise! This also includes blocking off access to the floor until the finish is dry to prevent unknowing people, kids, or pets from traipsing through the wet finish and leaving footprints. Believe us, those aren’t any fun to get out – here’s a video about spot repairs if you do find yourself in that unfortunate situation.

In conclusion, applying hardwood floor finish can be a challenging task, but by avoiding these top five mistakes, you can ensure a beautiful, long-lasting finish. Remember to prepare the surface properly, test the finish, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, apply the recommended amount of product, and protect the floor until the finish is cured. With these tips, your next project is sure to be a success! And if you ever run into issues on a job site, you can call (800) 737-1786 to speak with one of our hardwood floor experts.

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