Whenever you're applying hardwood floor sealer, be sure to read the manufacturer's instruction, and specs, along with their safety data sheet for proper handling. Not, all finishes are made equally. Always test a small area, to ensure that you're getting the right color and to see if the finish reacts in a bad manner with the surface being coated on.
There are four types of hardwood sealers to choose from oil modified, water base, de-waxed shellac and stain sealers.
They all do the same thing, penetrate into the wood and seal the wood pores, for a better and smoother build up on your top coat. Certain types will prevent side bonding and panelization, where others don't. Side bonding is when the flooring boards are glued together at the joints by the finish. And panelization is when all your floor boards are joined together to form a large panel. You probably don't think that it sounds so bad.
Let me explain, we all know that wood needs to, expand and contract. When they don't, well, something has to give - somewhere and somehow.
Side bonding - When is side bonding an issue? Side bonding is an issue when your flooring boards need to contract and shrink. You're probably thinking, that you prefer a tight floor at all times anyways. So, side bonding is ok, with you. Myself, I'm the same. I don't like to see food crumbs and dirt get trapped in gaps. Cleaning becomes a project, meaning - less sports television time, ugh!
Panelization - What about panelization? Your flooring boards turn into one large single panel. It looks that way anyhow. So, what is the big deal?
When you combine both issues, side bonding and panelization. You now, have a big issue. The larger your flooring space and the wider your flooring boards are, the bigger the issue.
What is it?
We've seen these types of floors before. A section of floor in our home, that has no gaps, then all of a sudden. You find a 1/4"-1/2" gap or crack in a flooring board. That just showed up, when you know, it was never there before. Well, it's the result of side bonding and panelization. Your flooring boards glued at the sides, formed a large panel. And when it contracted, the weakest point had to give. This is the result of a poor quality finish, that did not prevent the problems.
How do we prevent these issues? With the use of a hardwood floor sealer. But once again, not all sealers will prevent side bonding and panelization.
Note: For Massachusetts residents, Alcohol base sanding lacquer and lacquer sealer sales and uses have been banned in the state of Massachusetts. Visit this link to learn more, Massachusetts ban on hardwood floor sealer.
Check your building fire codes for the allowance on the use of solvent based finishes.
Wood Sealers are one of the easiest wood floor finishes to apply. Use a synthetic lambs wool applicator and a brush that's specified for oil paints only - quick release.
It's important to use only oil paint applicator, to reduce puddling, to provide proper coverage, and to allow the wood floor sealer to level itself properly. This will reduce unwanted brush marks, if, you do get brush marks no worries. The polyurethane finish will cover and even it out.
Tip: Have a helper coat the edges while you coat the main body of the wood flooring. This will result in less time spent with inhaling in the wood sealer fumes.
Brush applicator - Start by cutting in the edges, with your brush, use a 3" or 4" brush, remove loose brush bristles before using. Carefully, coat the floor, avoid getting any hardwood floor sealer on other surfaces. If, you accidentally do, you can use mineral spirit to clean it up. When, coating the edges, you should brush across the grain, then complete your final brush strokes with the grain. Remember to check for puddles, splashes, or drips. When applying natural wood sealers, be sure to apply the proper coverage, so that the finish seals all the wood pores.
Be sure to maintain a wet edge at all time. By doing this you'll avoid unwanted lap marks.
Mop applicator - use a light lambs wool applicator. Remove any loose wool from the applicator, you can use a vacuum to do this. Avoid pulling on the wool, this can create more loose fiber.
Pour your Wood Sealer into a 5 gallon pail. Attach the applicator to a mop handle. Soak the applicator with wood sealer. Start from furthest away from exit. Working in a 7'x 7' area or smaller, apply a 12 inch x 5 foot puddle in front of you. Pre-coat the wood-flooring, mopping from the starting puddle to the coated edge. Apply downward pressure while your mopping. Avoid applying pressure to the middle of the mop handle, this can cause it to break. Overlap your passes.
It's important that you pre-coat your floor, using one forward and back pass. While, making sure the wood flooring is completely coated. This will help you put an even quantity of floor finish across the surface.
Tip: If dealing with cold climate conditions. Maintain room temperature at 65 degrees. If the hardwood floor sealer does not dry to touch within a 1-2 hr period or overnight. Adjust the temperature higher, usually 70-72 degrees is more than enough.
Once you've completed the pre-coat step. You want to do a light finish pass, using the same procedure, but with less pressure to equalize the finish. Apply pressure to the mop head to squeeze out the hardwood floor sealer. On your final pass, you must apply less to zero pressure towards the mop head. Allow the applicator to float across the surface. While doing this check, for splashes, unevenness, and missed spots, coat if necessary.
Repeat both processes for edging and mop applicator. Work towards the exit area. Open any windows necessary to allow unwanted fumes out, during the process of applying your hardwood floor sealer, allow the wood sealer to dry 1-2 hr or overnight.
Apply a coat of natural wood sealer to help protect your wood floor. When you're choosing a hardwood floor sealer, invest in a high quality finish. This will save you money, from having to refinish your wood floors to often.
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