How to apply Pallmann Magic Oil

80-grit sanding belt
Sand your floor right, but not too smooth!

Pallmann Magic Oil will not bond to wood that has been sanded too fine. Final grit on a belt machine or edger should be 80-grit and final grit on a buffer should be 100-grit. Read Sanding a wood floor is a multi-step process for more details.

If you used a square-buff or multi-disc machine at 100-grit as your final pass, Pallmann insists that you water-pop your floor before applying Magic Oil.

What the heck is water-popping?

Read Pete’s article, How do I ‘water-pop’ my hardwood floor?

Quart Mixing Tub
Mix it up right.

If you are using Neutral Magic Oil, the ratio of Oil to Hardener is 5:1, but if you are using a color, the ratio is 4:1.

Mix them in a clean dry container (there is not enough room in the can to add the hardener directly – mix them in a separate container). Mix&Measure quarts with ratio markings are huge timesavers here).

Do not add anything to the mixture, not even water!

Do not recap Magic Oil 2K after hardener has been added or a vapor pressure explosion may occur.

We are looking for the perfect photo
Divide and Conquer!

Don’t try to apply Magic Oil to the entire floor all at once, especially if this is your first Magic Oil application.

Divide your floor plan into roughly 100sqft segments. Make sure your segments are bordered by walls or the long edge of the boards themselves. You can divide a room in two, just make sure the dividing line runs parallel to the grain.

For each of these sections, you will buff the Magic Oil on and buff off the excess before moving to the next adjacent section.

We recommend applying with a buffer

Yes, you can use a trowel as you’ve seen in all the cute videos, but we think that’s a back-breaker.

Do you need to learn to run a buffer? If you rent one from Pete’s in MN you will get a free lesson. Buffers can be tricky to learn by yourself.

Before you start buffing each section…

Learn more

Before you start buffing each section, use a small piece of red buffer pad to work the Magic Oil into the corners and around the edges of that section. Don’t do the edges of the entire job up front – just cut in each section as you get there.

Once the edges of your section are cut in, remove the center circle from your red buffer pad and pour a quarter cup of Magic Oil in the hole. Lower your buffer onto the red pad, turn it on, and gently sweep the buffer back and forth your designated area until it is coated. As the oil runs out, add more to the buffer pad, or even directly to the floor.

Allow the oil to sit, undisturbed, on the surface for at least 10 minutes but not more than 30 minutes. Using a fresh red pad under the buffer, remove all excess oil. If the buffer starts to spray small drops of oil, get a fresh pad. We discourage you from just turning the pad over as that coats the pad driver with oil and makes it too slippery to hold on to your pads. You’ll need multiple red pads for this.

Immediately after removing the excess oil with the red pad, repeat the process using a fresh WHITE buffer pad. Again, change the white pad as soon as it starts to spray flecks of oil, and expect to use multiple pads. Lastly, use a small piece of white buffer pad to remove the excess Magic Oil from the edges.

White buffer pad
Magic Oil needs a SECOND coat!

Once you’ve applied a coat of Magic Oil, it’s time to do it again! Follow the same procedure as described above. For best long-term performance of your Magic Oil, wait 24 hours between coats.

Pallman also recommends adding a second pass with a white polishing pad 20 minutes after the first, to even out sheen and make sure every last fleck of oil is removed.

Be sure to buff walking backward to remove all your footprints!

Child's pink tennis shoes on wood floor
Give it a day to cure

The greatest thing about Magic Oil is its amazingly short cure time. So, you can replace furniture and return to regular foot traffic after 24 hours, and only 12 hours for Neutral!


Pete’s Bonus Tips

Antique brown Bona DriFast waterpopped comparison

What Does “Water-Popping” Even Mean?

Yes, we should explain.

Waterpopping is deliberately and evenly wetting wood with water and allowing it to dry. This causes the grain to raise, making the wood feel rough, but also making it more absorbent. This allows stain colors to more easily penetrate the wood so the color appears deeper and darker. The increased texture can also help protective finishes bond better to wood.

Why would I do this?

Learn more
  1. When you are trying to reduce the natural blotchiness of woods like pine or maple.
  2. To increase the amount of stain that the wood will hold to make the color darker or more intense.
  3. To provide harder, close-grained woods like maple or hickory with some texture or “tooth” so they hold more finish which helps the finish bond, allowing it to perform better and last longer.
  4. To help swell the grain enough that some of the visible scratches from the edger are reduced, especially when using stain or pigmented products.
  5. To reduce the stripey “zebra” look that some woods like oak and ash get when stained because the pigment penetrates so easily into the spring wood, but is resisted by the denser late wood. Water-popping allows that dense wood to open up and absorb more stain, so it will be closer to the darker color of the spring wood, and just generally look more uniformly colored.

How do I do it?

Remove all dust from you wood by vacuuming and dry-wiping with a soft microfiber cloth.

Learn more

Using a spray bottle or clean pesticide pump-style sprayer, evenly mist distilled water over your entire wood surface until the water beads. This ensures that everything has been thoroughly and evenly wet.

Use a fan blowing onto the floor to completely dry the surface before you proceed with your stain or color coat. If you have access to a moisture meter, test the wood moisture before you water pop and only proceed after the floor returns to the original, pre-popped moisture level.

Keep foot traffic to a minimum after the popped wood has dried. You don't want to smooth down the raised grain in some areas because they will not take your stain as deeply, leaving "negative" footprints.

What could go wrong?

Water-popping can not only increase the roughness of floor boards, it can cause them to distort in other dimensions:

    Learn more
    1. Hardwood floor boards have lots of edges. Water can cause board edges to curl. If you water-popped your floor before staining, your boards all have slightly raised edges, but low spots in the middle. If you apply a coat of finish over your stain and then need to sand it, you will have a big problem: light sanding between coats or even regular foot traffic will have more contact with those high ridges, which can remove color there. We’ve had this happen on our own jobs, running the buffer between coats of finish on top of stain, watching with horror as little white lines of now-unstained wood appeared at long side edges of each board.
    2. Shake or lifting. Wood can have all sorts of interior tensions that are invisible, until the face is wet and the grain raise lifts up long, thin splintery edges. It is not common, but it is a pain to fix when it happens.
    3. If the floor is not water-popped evenly, i.e. some areas didn’t get enough water, while others were properly saturated, your stain will be lighter in the under-popped zones.
    4. That roughness; it’s a double-edged sword. It can help with color control, but some people are really bothered by the increased texture. Your finish coats will help to soften it somewhat, as will just the friction of living on the surface – it certainly won’t stay rough forever. But if you are expecting a perfectly smooth-to-the-touch surface from day one, you could be disappointed.
    Need some advice?

    For a small fee of $25, we can provide the wisdom and knowledge that you need to complete your hardwood flooring project. When you don’t know what you need to do next, that’s when it’s time to call Pete’s Hardwood Floors Help Hotline.