Read This Before Applying Finish to Your Wood Floors
No matter which finish you have chosen to apply, giving the floor one final, light polish will take your completed job from the grade of a low B to a solid A.
When you have finished using both the sanding and edging machines, your floor will be clean and smooth, but it will have invisible straight-line scratches in the main field of the floor and curved pig-tail scratches around the perimeter of the room. To blend those two scratches so that they do not cause your finish coat to have a 'picture frame' effect, you should give the floor one final polish.
This is done with a buffer or by hand using a pole sander. No matter which method you choose, the actual smoothing is done with a 100 or 120-grit sanding screen (a sharp mesh that looks like window screening) over the entire area of the floor.
If you use the pole sander, don't think you can get away with just pole-sanding over the edger-zone where the circular cut is; use the pole sander over every inch of that floor. If you're using the buffer, walk parallel to the grain, overlapping half the diameter of the buffer with each pass.
This final step makes a big difference in the quality of your finished floor by erasing any last traces of edger swirl and allowing the floor to absorb your finish uniformly.
After you have done that final light polishing, you can begin the cleaning process:
- Using a soft-bristle attachment, thoroughly vacuum the floor, baseboards and windowsills. Removing dust from baseboards and windowsills will prevent accidental showers of sanding dust getting knocked onto the floor while you're coating it with finish.
- Take a shower, or at least shake yourself off well before you continue; this will keep the dust from your hair and clothing out of the wet finish.
- Tack the floor with a DRY, lint-free rag or towel. Do not use conventional 'sticky' tack rags, especially at this stage of the job when the wood is completely raw and unprotected. Those commercial tack cloths can leave a residue on the floor that could prevent your finish coat from bonding.
- An easy way to tack the floor when your floor is still uncoated is to wrap your towel around a push broom and walk up and down the floor with it until the towel no longer picks up any sand or dust (read our favorite tack-cloth story at right).
Now you’re ready to apply the finish of your choice.
Remember writing down the square footage of your room? You’ll need that number now to determine how many gallons of finish to buy.
Coating sequence, drying time and coverage will vary according to the type of finish you have chosen. Here are the links to the coating directions for each of the finishes we sell:
With the exception of Rubio Monocoat, most finishes will require a light sanding between coats at some point during the coating sequence. Every time you do this inter-coat abrasion, more dust is produced and you must re-vacuum and re-tack the floor just as thoroughly as you did the first time.
Once you have a layer of finish on the floor, any time you sand and tack the floor, you will need to use a damp tack rag—just dampen a cloth (microfiber cloths work particularly well) with the solvent that matches your finish (water for waterbornes; paint thinner for oil-modified). This will do a much better job of removing those last traces of grit and dust that can leave you with a rough and unsatisfactory finished floor.