Refinishing oak floor - one question...

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Forum topic by pashley posted 08-21-2010 03:31 AM 2781 views 1 time favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View pashley's profile


1043 posts in 3685 days

08-21-2010 03:31 AM

Do you need “sealer” for an oak floor if the floor has been sanded to 180, needs no repairs…and will NOT be stained?

And what exactly IS sealer? Shellac?

-- Have a blessed day!

16 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4186 days

#1 posted 08-21-2010 04:36 AM

I’m no expert, but if you are going to put a clear finish on it, I can’t imaging what purpose a sealer would serve. Unless the sealer is a lot cheaper than the actual final finish, and will allow you to use less of the expensive stuff.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3790 days

#2 posted 08-21-2010 05:00 AM

No, you do not need a sealer on flooring. Once it has been sanded and the dust removed then it is ready to either be stained or have a topcoat applied.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14171 posts in 3951 days

#3 posted 08-21-2010 05:04 AM

My thoughts are the same as Charlie’s and I’m no expert, but a sealer, if less expensive would be a good first coat. If you have a one gallon job … then I’d skip the sealer,

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View Dark_Lightning's profile


3146 posts in 3077 days

#4 posted 08-21-2010 05:14 AM

You want to be sure that what you put on the floor is able to withstand the abuse. Sealers may not be in this category. I’ve usually used products like Varathane…NO sealer beyond what the varnish does.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View aurora's profile


229 posts in 3220 days

#5 posted 08-21-2010 05:16 AM

i think the sealer is to make for a uniform staining process, (heartwood vs sapwood, different absorption rates …looks splotchy, especially in some species, particularly pine). if you are not staining, then just put on your clear finish. i prefer polyurethane. i usually thin it down to get good penetration into the wood and use more coats that attempting to build up a faster finish that is strictly lying on top of the wood.

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3448 days

#6 posted 08-21-2010 05:22 AM

If you are sanding it and do not plan to stain it, I would use several coats of regular clear polyurethane. The more coats you apply, the more durable it will become. Four to six or more coats would not be unusual if you have the time.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View pashley's profile


1043 posts in 3685 days

#7 posted 08-21-2010 09:33 AM

Ok, so next question, the polyurethane – brands? Oil or water?

Here’s what I’m probably going to be going with, this oil-based product:

From what I’ve read around the ‘net, this seems to give a rich color, and good protection. Problem is, it takes so damn long to dry! On the can, it says not to put down a rug for a month! Something like 15 hours between coats? Wow. Problem is, this area being done is one we need to go thru to get to the upstairs. 3 coats enough? This is for a living room.

Any thoughts here? I want to do the best job, and yes, even it takes days to make it happen.

-- Have a blessed day!

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3448 days

#8 posted 08-21-2010 06:41 PM

I have always used Minwax, but I am sure theres others that will do just as well. I definetly would use the oil based. A lot of the waterbased products will say not to use on floors. It does take a while to finish, but look at it this way, so if it takes a week or 10 days, you are in good shape for 20 or more years rather than having to redo it ever 2 or 3 years.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View RJ2's profile


151 posts in 3753 days

#9 posted 08-24-2010 06:11 PM

The old schoolers still use the industrial moisture cure polyurethane , it is still available through a real paint store . it is not cost effective to buy a thinner that will clean the brush, so it will be stored in the finish untill done, and thrown away.
Absolutely nothing else compares to this finish. Done to many dance floors, and tried other products first, when area to be done could not be sealed off to the public. The smell is very over whelming when it is curing . naturally the EPA and osha do not like this on the market. I personally would have used this on my last house , but went with a hand scraped white oak . Since it has major dishes in it ,being sculpted , I went with the european trip trap oil ,now i think it is called Woca oil. This oil is an all natural soy bean etc formula , that is incredible . I did the initial application wrong and walked off the job with a standing wet coat . Next morning I had puddling and could not break it loose with MEK, laquer thinner etc. I had to put down another light coat and burn it in with a floor buffer and pad again . Been there 5 years and 2 grandkids using there 3 wheelers through the house . This is not the shiny finish , but if you have a sculpted, hand scaped or have pets with nails this is my answer. In addition when it is time to refinish
, it can be done in section and no sanding needed .


View Clarence's profile


125 posts in 3074 days

#10 posted 08-24-2010 10:21 PM

Related question:

What do you guys use to apply this finish to something the size of a floor? roller, pad, brush, lambswool?

-- Getting old is a good thing, but being old kinda stinks.

View aurora's profile


229 posts in 3220 days

#11 posted 08-24-2010 10:57 PM

i generally pour it on the floor all across the length in a small stream (approximately 1 cm dia.) back and forth, leaving about a foot in between the lines on the floor. then go back and use a weighted squeegee with a floor pad on it to smoothe it out. try to avoid encapsulating air bubbles, so i dont like a roller. brushing takes too long and keeps your face in the fumes, and the good stuff really gets me high. the squeegee has a 5 foot handle on it. it usually takes me about 5 to 10 minutes to do a whole room.

i would stay away from high gloss finish (as mentioned on the above picture of the can)

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2939 days

#12 posted 08-27-2010 08:06 PM

Sorry I’m coming to the discussion a little late, but my dad was a hardwood floor finisher for over 50 years. he knew a thing or two about finishing floors. I helped him enough to absorb at least some of the knowledge he gained from that experience. Having said that, he has been gone for 13 years and it’s been at least 20 years since he finished a floor so I’m sure there are new products available that he never heard of and there are probably a lot of details I forgot.
Any way, I am sure he always put sealer on oak floors if they were sanded. He rough sanded, then crawled over the entire floor on hands and knees setting nails and patching anything that needed it. Then sanded 2 or 3 more times using progressively finer paper. Then he made a pot of filler using the dust from the finish sanding mixed with shellac and denatured alcohol. I don’t know the exact formula, but it looked like he did it the same way my mother made biscuits; stir, mix and knead until it looked right. The filler was rubbed onto the floors with burlap sacks by hand. After the filler dried it was sanded again and sometimes sanded by hand and scraped in difficult areas, then the finish, shellac or varnish or polyurethane as was requested, was applied with a lambswool flat mop. After each coat of finish he would buff the floor with steel wool, then finally, after the last coat with Johnsons paste wax on a lambs wool or china bristle pad on a big buffer.
The purpose of the sealer was to close the pores of the oak so it didn’t soak up so much finish and also to fill the nail holes and the seams between boards. That’s how those floors got the glossy, seamless mirror finish. Of course, todays floors are nailed with machines with different nails from dad’s day. The floors he finished were often nailed down by hand using cut nails.

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 2848 days

#13 posted 08-27-2010 08:56 PM

If you have not got the finish yet I would suggest looking at the possibility of using Tung Oil for the finish. Polyurethane will work well but is only a top coat and after a number of years it will wear through in areas and someday will have to be re applied. I think they say every 3 years? Tung Oil will absorb into the wood and seal it. It will be water proof and very easy to fix any areas that get worn. With the Oil you can touch up areas at anytime but just adding some more. No need to refinish the whole floor again in a few years. It will also give the oak a really nice amber color. I just helped my dad refinish his oak floors this year and that is what he used. Also its very easy to apply. Biggest disadvantage is its price but if you factor in price of having to re-coat polyurethane in a few years it may be worth it.

Just an idea.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View davyj's profile


36 posts in 2818 days

#14 posted 08-30-2010 02:33 PM

more durable but a little more expence is NOT polyurathane but a product called Varathane. the gallon cans used to have a picture of a girl on roller skates and said HARD enough to skate on. our house is hard wood through out and thats all I did to the floors NO undercoat, no stain. we did go over the first coat very lightly with 0000 steal wool and did a second coat. our floors never need any thing but the new dust mop thingys.

-- retired GM/Delphi , Retired USN/USAFR

View floorrefinisher's profile


1 post in 2291 days

#15 posted 01-16-2012 12:58 AM

Don`t use a “sealer”. Just use polyurethane through out the entire process. In fact anything you apply to the floor is actually a sealer. Stain, poly, whatever is put down will act to seal the pores of the wood. Ive been doing floors for 18 years and I can honestly say all lacquer based sealer wear away fast and leave a thin coat.

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