How Long Does Polyurethane Take to Dry

If you’re in the planning stages of refinishing your hardwood floors, then you understand that there is plenty of preparation involved with making this leap in remodeling your home. When someone has unfinished hardwood floors in their home, they soon realize that these breathtaking floors can take up quite a bit of their attention, patience, and care. This is exactly why many people resort to applying a finish of some sort. If this sounds like the situation that you’re currently in, then you’ve come to the right place. Refinishing your unfinished hardwood floors is a major DIY project, which is why it’s important to thoroughly understand all of the steps that go into making it happen. One of those major steps is learning how long polyurethane takes to dry once it’s applied to unfinished floors, and that’s exactly what we’re going to talk about today.

Process of Drying Polyurethane

Preparing Your Space

One of the first things you need to do when refinishing your hardwood floors is to make sure that the floors are properly sanded down. Now before you get to the tough stuff, it’s important to make sure to prepare the space that you’ll be working with. It goes without saying that sanding your floor can produce a whole lot of dust, which is why you want to remove all furniture, rugs, and anything else that you don’t want covered in dust before you begin. Once your done removing everything that you can, it’s time to seal off the area. This will ensure that dust isn’t flying into every other room in your house. So, using old sheets or blankets, cover the entryways throughout your home. Also, make sure to check the floors for any nails, staples, or other sharp objects before you begin. This will ensure that your sandpaper isn’t ripped to shreds while you’re getting the job done.

Get a Sander

Because most people are only sanding their floors every ten years or so, they typically don’t have a floor sander sitting around their house. The two most commonly used types of floor sanders out there are drum sanders and orbital sanders, and luckily, they can both be rented at your local home improvement store. If you’ve never used a sander before, then you might want to go with the more user-friendly option, the orbital sander. Also, make sure to read all of the instructions very carefully or you could risk damaging your floors or injuring yourself in the process.

Sanding Your Floors

Before you get the sander home, make sure to purchase high-grit sheets of sandpaper. After attaching the sandpaper to the floor sander, begin to sand your floors slowly and evenly, going with the grain of the wood. Moving the sander in straight, even strokes, start in the middle of the room and work your way across the floor. Remember, the sander needs to be moving at all times or you could risk sanding one area too deeply, which could create grooves on your floor. If you’re new to sanding and you’re nervous as to how you should do it, then you should do a trial run on an area of your floor that will be covered up by a rug or furniture. Once you’ve sanded down the entire floor, use a shop-vac to clean up all of the dust that will be left behind. Once that’s finished, you can begin to apply the finish to your floor.

Things to Keep in Mind

There is no definitive time limit to how long these things take, but there are plenty of factors that come in to play when determining how long a project such as this may take you to complete:
– Murphy’s Oil and similar products tend to gum up the sandpaper, making it difficult to get off of the floor.
– Polyurethane that has been sitting for quite some time can be difficult to remove.
– If the floor has seen any kind of moisture damage then it will take longer to sand. There are separate instructions for floors that have suffered from water damage, so make sure to read those before you begin to work.
– Humid conditions can slow down drying time.

Oil-Based Polyurethane

For a natural sanding job that requires two coats of an oil-based polyurethane finish, you’ll want to devote a minimum of 48 hours of drying time. For three coats, you’ll want to dedicate three days to ensure that it’s thoroughly dry. It’s recommended that unfinished hardwood floors receive at least two coats of an oil-based polyurethane PLUS a coat of lacquer sealer. The general rule of thumb is to apply one coat of sealer and one coat of the oil-based polyurethane on the first day. Then, on the second day, you should apply the second coat of polyurethane so that the first coat has plenty of room to dry. You should always add an additional day of drying for each coat of polyurethane that you put down.

Helpful Tips

– Remove all pets from the home while the floors are drying as the fumes from the polyurethane are noxious. Do not allow them onto the floors for at least a week.
– Do not wear shoes on the floor for at least three days after application
– Don’t put furniture on the floors for at least five daysWater-Based Polyurethane

When it comes to water-based polyurethane, you’ll want to use at least three coats because it’s much thinner than oil-based polyurethane. Water-based polyurethane actually dries extremely quickly, so up to four coats can be applied to the floor in one day.

Helpful Tips

– Do not walk on the floors for at least three days
– Avoid putting furniture back for at least three days

There really isn’t too much that goes into refinishing your hardwood floors, but that certainly doesn’t mean that it’s an easy job. As long as you follow these simple instructions, and you take care to pay attention to the helpful tips, then you should have no problem with your floors drying after you’ve applied the polyurethane coating. Just remember to give it plenty of time and they’ll be just fine!

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