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How to apply Waterlox.


Waterlox is applied with the same technique that we use for polyurethane, but the timing is different. Waterlox must be coated with at least 12 hours of waiting time between coats.  It is not necessary to abrade or sand lightly between coats, but if any of the coats are rough or have dust in them, light sanding is recommended to improve texture.

Waterlox is a paint-thinner based finish; use paint thinner for all cleanup. Do not use water, turpentine or lacquer thinner.

Check out our YouTube video on How to Screen and Recoat a Hardwood Floor. Ignore all the information on preparing an existing floor for recoat. Just fast forward to the last section where we're actually coating the floor. That's our favorite way to apply Waterlox. 

  1. Use a good vacuum to make absolutely sure there is no dust, debris, or foreign matter of any kind left on the floor. It’s best to use a shop vac or canister-style vacuum that uses a wand with a soft bristle brush attachment rather than the upright vacuum you use for carpet.
  2. After you vacuum, wipe the raw wood with a soft, dry rag (old t-shirts are perfect) to get up the last specks of dust that the vacuum left behind. Then run the vacuum over your dry applicators to eliminate loose fibers. If the room you are about to coat is adjacent to a floor where you don’t want spills or drips, use blue tape to protect it. Tape down some cardboard at your exit door so you have a safe zone to place your sticky mop and paint pad as you back out of the freshly coated area.
  3. Make sure that at least one window in the room to be coated is open 3" or more and that you can maintain a temperature of at least 60 degrees Farenheit for the duration of the coating and drying process.  You will improve air exchange and maximize your cure rate if you turn on a fan (like a bathroom vent fan) in an adjacent room to make sure that the coated rooms are emptied of air four to five times an hour.
  4.  Open your container of Waterlox (either their Original Sealer/Finish or their Satin finish) and decant it into a watering can or other pouring device with a spout. Dampen your coater cover and your paint pad with paint thinner. Slide the coater cover onto the metal t-bar and make sure the t-bar is securely attached to your threaded pole. Stick a clean, dry rag in your pocket so you are ready to deal with drips.
  5. Start at the wall that is furthest from your exit and runs parallel to the wood grain. Pour a 5-inch-wide puddle that runs the entire length of your starting wall, about 3 inches from the wall. Begin cutting in with the pad painter, but don’t cut in the entire room! Coat a 6-inch border along your entire starting wall and 3 feet along the walls that abut your starting wall. It should look like this:
  6. Charge up your t-bar with polyurethane by dipping the applicator end in the puddle and then pressing lightly against the floor. Do thiscoating several times, until the applicator appears evenly filled with finish, but not drippy (similar to how a paint roller feels as it leaves the roller tray)..Begin at the top corner of your cut-in zone and gently drag your t-bar at a 30º angle, aiming the center of your 18-inch coater at the center of your puddle of polyurethane, effectively “snow-plowing” the finish in front of the applicator head. Walk in a straight line, parallel to the wall and without stopping, until your t-bar reaches the cut-in section at the far wall. Don’t lean your body weight on the stick; the weight of your two hands on the t-bar is all the pressure you need to lay down the correct amount of polyurethane.
  7. Lift your t-bar and gently wring it out by pressing it against the floor that is already wet with polyurethane. Start from the cut-in zone and overlap your last pass, again dragging the puddle parallel to your starting wall all the way to the wall at the top. If you’re coating correctly, the puddle will slowly shrink because each pass with the t-bar applicator will leave behind an even film of polyurethane.
  8. When you reach the end of the area of the original cut-in zone, rest the t-bar with the applicator in the wet polyurethane (leaving it on the dry wood leaves a permanent mark), and cut in another 3 to 4 feet along the walls at the top and bottom of your next coating zone. Pour a fresh line of polyurethane if necessary. Continue alternating t-bar and pad painter until you are 3 feet from your final wall.
  9. Use your pad painter to cut in along every wall you have left, except for your exit. Starting at the corner furthest from your exit and working a 5-foot section at a time, gently mop the polyurethane on with a back-and-forth motion. Scrape the excess finish down into a puddle at your feet, then go back and blend your coated section into the cut-in zone by pushing the t-bar away from you while you gradually lift it off the ground.  Work backward, blending each section into the last, until you reach your exit door. Switch to the pad painter for the last few strokes.

Allow each layer of Waterlox to dry at least overnight. Waterlox recommends at least three coats for most species of wood, sometimes four for soft woods like fir or pine. Keep your applicators literally submerged in paint thinner in between coats - if they dry out they tend to get crusty and useless.

SPECIAL NOTE:  Do not try to accelerate the time between coats of Waterlox, especially if you are coating under conditions that are cooler than 65 degrees or if the outdoor conditions are foggy or humid! Read about how one customer learned about this the hard way.

If you are having issues with texture, lightly abrade the offending coat of finish with a pole sanding and a 150 or 180 grit sanding screen, or use a low speed buffer with a 180 screen. The screening process will produce enough powdery dust to continue to create roughness, so be sure to vacuum it all up and tack off any remainder with a soft cloth misted with paint thinner.

Wait 24 hours after the final coat before allowing foot traffic or furniture back on the floor.