Learn How to Apply Water Based Polyurethane to Wood Floors!

How to Apply Water Based Polyurethane to Wood FloorsThere are more than a few reasons behind why polyurethane is considered one widely revered and durable hardwood finish. It makes a protective layer that keeps your wooden floor in a better form as the days keep passing. There are two types of polyurethane finish that differs in application and performance.

Today I’ll be disclosing the right method of how to apply water based polyurethane to wood floors using formulas that work best.

Best Way to Apply Water Based Polyurethane to Wood Floors

Here’s a piece of quick information I want you to know about before we discuss what is the best way to apply polyurethane on wood floors. And that’s about the floor types you can consider for applying water based polyurethane floor finish.

Maple, white washed and gray stained floors are the ones that do not complement well with oil-based polyurethane. These are more appropriate to fit best with a water-based poly finish.

Now Let’s Proceed with The Guide!

Prep Up the Wooden Floor First

This step is basically the answer for those who wonder, how do I get a smooth finish with water based polyurethane that will not look any less professional. And it’s about preparing the wooden floor for application.

People feel discouraged to spend more time here and want to rush things over. And that’s probably why some end up getting a less attractive outlook by the end of application.

You need to make your wooden surface clean to let the finish better stick with it. And when the case is about a clear finish, this step becomes even more crucial.

Use 220-grit sandpaper here and nicely even out the surface. You can try using a filler for open grain woods such as oak, ash, and also walnut. So that an ultra-smooth finish can be achieved on that surface.

After sanding, don’t forget to clean those dust before going for a coat. You can simply use a vacuum here. Also, regular tack cloth can be used. In the case of a water-based poly, you should use denatured alcohol moistened cheesecloth.

An improper brush preparation can lead to creating bubbles. You should soak the bristles of brush in water before application to avoid that problem. However, water-based polyurethane is very less likely to create such a problem. But you still don’t want to take a risk.

Another important note is that if your floor previously had an oil-based stain then you must rough up it slightly. Because the water-based polyurethane will not go well with oil-based stains. So, get synthetic steel wool and give it some gentle roughing out. This will avoid any beading over the surface.

applying water based polyurethane floor finish.

Application Phase

You can use a fine brush applicator for polyurethane to get an even coat. Foam pads and clothes also work for the purpose. Just focus on applying a very thin coat of water-based poly finish. Of course, you don’t want to take too much polyurethane in the applicators since that will not allow level application. Try to follow the grain and don’t raise it very frequently.

Give first coat the required amount of time to dry completely. After that, you can go for the second coat. Here you don’t need to sand between coats and that’s something different from the oil-based poly application.

However, some manufacturers may advise you to do that. So, make sure you check the instructions before and then skip sanding process. Floors are not lightly used and so you want to have the maximum protection here. That’s why it’s best to go for at least four coatings of water-based polyurethane for wooden floors.

applying wood stain with roller

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Overall Drying & Curing Period to Follow

I already told you about applying four coats of water-based polyurethane applications. Just make sure you are applying each coat maintaining a gap of 4-6 hours. That way you will be able to end things within 24 hours or less. And then it’s okay to move furniture on that floor.

Make sure you avoid shoes and even bare feet until 24 hours have passed. Pets have nails and that can cause damage to the floor. So, avoid letting them into that area for at least a week.

The complete curing process will need at least 30 days. And so, you should avoid placing area rugs before completing that time period. At the very least, this period should not be any less than first two weeks.

Also, some manufacturers have a very specific recommendation in this matter. So, you must check the instructions to be completely sure.


And that’s basically how to apply water-based polyurethane to wood floors. The process needs your complete attention to end up into a satisfying result. So, make sure you don’t ignore any important factor and go by following the right rules.

I also have a guide on how to apply oil based polyurethane to wood floors if that’s something within your concern.

No matter what type of polyurethane you use, it’ll only be able to provide the best results when applied the right way. So, make sure you are not sidestepping proper application. And ultimately everything should fall into its best place.

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