Pallmann Waterborne Polyurethane hardwood floor finish is great for first-time floor coaters.

What is the best way to seal my sanded floor?

Are you dreading the finishing of your hardwood floors? You aren’t alone! So, you had so much fun sanding your floor, but now you’re hesitating because you don’t know what to do next. You know you must protect that floor, but you’re worried about choosing a good product and applying it correctly.

And for good reason! Even professionals worry about this step. Even the toughest, most expensive finish can perform poorly and look unsightly if you don’t apply it well.

Among the aspects of coating that first-time DIYers find most challenging:

  • How do you apply an even film thickness across all your rooms?
  • How do you avoid puddles, turn lines, and stop marks?
  • Lower-VOC products (i.e. the ones that stink less) have much shorter working times and show stroke lines and overlaps more readily.
  • You have a complex floor plan that forces you to stop and start in different areas to avoid getting painted into a corner. But your wet edges are drying while you are off coating other rooms – will you be able to overlap those now-sticky edges without leaving craters and boogers?
  • You really want to get the job done, so you apply a coat after dark with just artificial light and can’t see your skips or puddles. Until it’s too late.
  • Floor finishes require at least three layers – you have to avoid all these mistakes for all THREE coats
These are all real problems. But they could all be solved with a finish with one special attribute: the ability to self-level.

Self-leveling finishes are the holy grail that even professionals seek. Such a finish would allow skips, drips, and puddles to flow out before it dried, plus give you the luxury of time to calmly handle complex floor plans and tight corners.

Do self-leveling finishes exist, or is it a myth?

We’re getting close to achieving a perfect, self-leveling finish, but it’s still a work in progress. But chemical engineering for polurethane finishes has come a long way.

Twenty years ago, what we thought were “forgiving” waterborne finishes have been surpassed by newer, better formulations.

For example, we’ve been using and selling Bona Traffic HD and Bona Mega for years because we thought they flowed well, but when we sold those products to first time DIYers, they complained about puddles and turn marks.

 

So, the power of chemical science has delivered Pall-X Gold, Pall-X Power, and Pall-X 96 Nexgen to soothe the anxieties of first-time floor coaters.

Here are the reasons why:

Aggressively self-leveling.

All three of these products are intended for use by the flooring trades, so are not readily available in large chain home improvement stores. But their forgiving natures make them ideal for the DIYer.

These finishes can be applied with a t-bar coater or a roller (3/8” microfiber) and maybe even with a hockey stick, but please don’t try that at home.

The de-foaming agents in these products are so strong the manufacturer requires you to shake the product vigorously to mix it prior to application.

If you shake a regular waterborne, it foams like you added baking soda to it and bubbles like that do not pop out before the finish hardens.

Long-wearing.
Pall-X Gold is the toughest of these three products.

It is a two-component cross-linked waterborne polyurethane recommended for restaurants and for long-term rental units.

In other words, floors that get a lot of wear, but can’t be easily or regularly recoated. We use it here in our store in the walk-off area from outside that gets the most water, gravel and salt.

But even though it’s designed for commercial use, you can still use it in your house. It’s the most expensive, but it buys you the most amount of time before you need maintenance coating.

Pall-X Power is next toughest in the Pallmann line-up.

It is a single component finish with the solvent and wear resistance of a two-component. This finish is not quite as tough as Pall-X Gold, but is still sold for commercial applications, which means it’s tough enough for your kitchen floor and room where your dogs chase tennis balls (we’re joking! People, please don’t throw balls for your pets in the house!)

NO Isocyanate in the Pall-X 96 Nexgen or Pall-X Power.

Most two-component finishes are using an isocyanpall X 96 gallonate as their crosslinker and catalyst and OSHA warns that this chemical can damage skin and, in individuals who are especially sensitive, lungs and other soft tissue.

Pall-X Power is a single-component finish, but with much of the toughness of those two-component products. This is HUGE.

Any time we can make a wear-resistant finish without exposing people to corrosive materials is a win.

Sparklingly, crystal clear.

And it will not yellow over time. Older technology waterborne finishes apply clear initially, but gradually get dingy and faintly yellow in 5-8 years (we’re looking at you Bona Mega).

Pallmann relies on both acrylics and high-quality urethanes to promise that it will stay clear eternally.

You probably have questions like these:

I’ve never trusted water-based finishes. Oil-modified urethanes have been self-leveling forever.

Just use an old-school solvent based finish and call it good. Why reinvent the wheel?

Oil-modified urethanes are indeed naturally self-leveling, but they are also extremely stinky, difficult to clean up, and they are no longer the toughest finish on the block.

Learn more

Waterborne finishes are still a young and developing chemical engineering challenge. But that is where all the research, development, and improvements are focused.

Oil-modified urethanes are adequate, but finish companies are not wasting their R&D budgets on a product that can’t even be sold in some states because of its toxic solvents.

And, given the current fashion for keeping yellow and red tones out of floors, you want to keep in mind that those old-school oil-modified urethanes make the wood immediately amber and keep it that way.

I get that it’s easy to apply, but how exactly do you that?

Pallmann self-levels best when it is rolled on with a microfiber roller cover. Pallmann would prefer us to use their roller covers, but the price is a little prohibitive.

We have been using high-quality 3/8″ microfiber roller covers from our local paint sundries supplier and have had excellent results with them.

Learn more

Rolling these finishes allows you to get enough finish on that it will flow level. Pete’s loves t-bar applicators for most of the other finishes we sell, but rolling the Pallmann finishes is what makes them so forgiving.

Normal procedure is to use a pad painter to cut in the edges of the room (as you go, not all at once) and to pour the Pallmann finish of choice directly on the floor and roll it out, rather than dipping into a tray. (If you have extremely rough, reclaimed, dry floors that are absorbing the finish too fast, a roller tray would be advised).

Can I use Pall-X Power directly on my wood, or do I need a sealer first?

Definitely use a sealer first. If you prefer a colorless waterborne sealer, we recommend Pall-X Clear.

It is just as forgiving to apply as the Pall-X Power, and acts as primer coat that bonds firmly to wood fiber and is perfect base for the Pall-X Power or Pall-X 96 Nexgen.

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And if you don’t want the harshness of a completely clear base coat, Pall-X Color is their warmer, browner sealer coat. It is not as amber as the oil-based sealer options listed below, but it is also much less smelly than using oil-based sealers.

But if you really want to add amber to your floor, but don’t plan to actually stain, Pallmann topcoats play nicely with other brands of oil-based sealer!

We’ve used both Bona DriFast Sealer and DuraSeal Quick Dry Sealer underneath the Pall-X Power and it was as though they were designed to work together. Oil sealers must be dry enough to lightly sand before topcoating with any of the Pallmann products.

Do I have to abrade between coats?

Pallmann sealers never need to be abraded to bond to later coats, but you may have to sand lightly between Pallmann top coats.

For example, if more than 24 hours has elapsed between layers of Pall-X Power or Pall-X 96 Nexgen you will need to lightly sand with a buffing screen or sanding strips at 150-grit, then wipe away the dust with a cloth dampened with water.

Want the nitty-gritty coating directions?

Click here for the Pall-X 96 Nexgen data sheet and the Pall-X Power data sheet.

I’ve heard that water-based finishes are difficult to abrade – that they are so stretchy that they “grab” your sandpaper and gum it up. Do the Pallmann products do this?

Nope. This is another reason why we like recommending them to do-it-yourselfers. Many waterbornes, even when they are completely dry, ball up like rubber cement when you try to sand them between coats. It is so frustrating!

The Pallmann sealers, the Pall-X Power, and the Pall-X 96 Nexgen powder beautifully when you sand them. No gumming.

I’ve read that Pallman has an actual 2-component waterborne – do you recommend that finish?

Yes! The Pall-X Gold is a cross-linked two-component waterborne that we feel comfortable selling to any first-time coater, which can’t say about other two-component finishes that we use. Two component finishes are generally very expensive, so we don’t want to mess up during coating.

Pallmann has made a finish that can be rolled both with and AGAINST the grain, which makes it much easier to get out of tight spaces and keep a wet edge on large and complex room layouts.

What about color? Waterborne finishes are too light for what I want. What if I want some amber, like with an oil-based urethane? Or what about using stain under these finishes?

You are exactly right. If you use Pall-X 96 Nexgen or Pall-X Power over a regular clear sealer, the effect will be very light.

This photo shows the color difference between waterborne poly like the Pallmann and traditional oil-based polyurethane.

So, you have choices to think about:

Learn more
  • You can use any reputable oil-modified urethane sealer (we sell and recommend DuraSeal Quick Dry or Bona DriFast sealers) with excellent results if they are fully dry and abraded with 150-grit before the Pallman coats are applied.
  • If you prefer to stain the floor first, you can use any brand or type of stain, as long as the drying guidelines are strictly followed. Once the stain is dry, you will get best results if you use a Pallmann brand sealer prior to coating with Pall-X 96 Nexgen or Pall-X Power.

How many coats do I need?

Pallmann recommends one coat of sealer, and two topcoats of either Pall-X Power or Pall-X 96 Nexgen.

If you stain your floor, Pallmann urges you to use a sealer after the stain (use Pall-X Clear over light grey or white stains and Pall-X Color over browns or dark stains), and then apply two coats of Pall-X Power or Pall-X 96 Nexgen.

What is the coverage rate?

Expect Pallmann sealer to go about 350sqft per gallon and topcoats 450sqft per gallon.

What if I don’t want a glossy finish?

All three finishes, Pall-X Gold, Pall-X Power, and the Pall-X 96 Nexgen come in semi-gloss, satin, and matte so you have exactly the sheen you want.

Pete’s only keeps satin and matte in inventory, but the other two are available by special order.

How long before I can walk on my Pallman Pall-X Power floor?

It depends on what you mean by “walk.” If you just need to get across the floor to the bathroom or bedroom, you only need to wait 4 hours.

But for actual foot traffic and lifting furniture onto the fresh finish, 24 hours. Full cure is after 5 days, under ideal conditions.

Bonus: full cure for Pall-X Gold is only THREE days!

What is the difference between Pall-X Power and Pall-X 96 Nexgen?

Pall-X Power is tougher and slightly more expensive, but they are both equally well-behaved when it comes to self-levelling.

Pete’s Bonus Tips

Buy online, or stop by our cute store in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Pete's sells supplies online across the continental U.S., and rents equipment to Minneapolis/St. Paul DIYers. Our store at 186 Fairview Avenue North in St. Paul, MN is at the corner of Fairview and Selby.

It's just the cutest sander rental shop you'll ever visit. Call us at 651-698-5888.

Store hours:

  • Monday - Friday: 8:30-5
  • Saturday: 8:30-3
  • Sunday: Closed