How do I handle new hardwood floors that scratch really easily.

Tamara S
by Tamara S
They finished my Oak and Cherry floor after it was installed and it just doesn't seem to have enough of a finish. Should I have someone put additional coats on top of what was done by the contractor, or just use a wax to maintain them??????
  20 answers
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Dec 21, 2011
    What type of finish was used?...oil based, water based. Catalyzed? How many coats? long has it been since the "finish" was applied...has it been allowed to cure properly? avoid the "wax" that will just contaminate any future "re-finish" or repair work that needs to be done. Check out this article I wrote on floor finishes...If you have more questions after that I will be glad to help you out.

  • Tamara S Tamara S on Dec 21, 2011
    Thanks for the advise about the wax. I think they put polyurethane, maybe two coats and then they walked on it a couple days later. The builder was very, very behind on the schedule, blah, blah, blah

  • I try to put down at least 4 coats of poly to finish a floor, allowing a day dry time between coats if that is possible. Sometimes I have done 5 or 6 coats if the area gets really high traffic.

  • New finishes always seems to scratch easy. Add to that the contractor rushed the job and did not allow the new finish to properly harden adds to your frustration. Remember any new shiny surface will show even the slightest marks until it begins to wear and loose its shine. Add to that a perhaps darker finish and it even shows worse. You need to use the floor with care, any areas that are walked on, on a regular basis should have runners placed. Be careful however not to use runners with rubber backs as this will stick to the surface of the new wood. No shoes only socks, and forget about critters with sharp nails that will wear down the finish in short order. Do not wax the surface if it has been sealed with a poly finish. This type of finish takes a long time to completely dry, any wax surface will seal the coating thus preventing it from fully curing.

  • Tamara S Tamara S on Dec 22, 2011
    We are planning to be away from the Condo for a week in the Spring, should I have someone come in and add coats of Poly?

  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Dec 22, 2011
    I like to use a minimum of 3 coats...with a full day between. Many thin coats are better that a couple thick coats. The thinner the coat the faster it cures. Most floors should cure at least 72 hours ( three full days) before they see regular traffic...more time if the weather is humid. You mentioned poly as the finish used but not whether it was water based or oil based. You could have it "beefed" up in the spring. Have the floor lightly "screened" then have a few more thin coats applied with a solid three days to cure after the final...I like to use "satin" finish as the gloss finish only stays gloss for a short time once it starts to see wear.

  • Tamara S Tamara S on Dec 22, 2011
    Thanks, this was very helpful. Now to find the right contractor before Spring! T

  • Kathleen M Kathleen M on Dec 22, 2011
    I just wanted to add my two cents about wax. I had hardwood floors which I kept waxed in a home that I lived in for 20 years. It was a very high traffic home with dogs and kids, and the floors looked great when I moved out. (The floor waxer came every 3-4 months). I moved in to a second home, no kids, less traffic and the floors needed refinishing after 7 years. It is a giant pain to go through floor refinishing when you live in a house! I really wish I had kept them waxed. The finish couldn't be repaired because the floors had been stained.

  • Good points Kathleen, but one must remember when a new floor is just refinished waxing can really slow and even stop the drying process of the chemicals that are placed on the floor during the refinishing process. One should wait at least a year before putting any kind of polish on a newly finished floor.

  • Tamara S Tamara S on Dec 22, 2011
    Thanks Kathleen, T

  • Three coats is normal, and often best. I may have missed it, but I do not see whether the poly is a water or oil based. That info is important to my answer

  • Tamara S Tamara S on Dec 23, 2011
    I'll have to ask the builder, thanks T

  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Dec 23, 2011
    As I mentioned in my article ( link posted in my first response) wax or a simple penetrating oil an be used as a stand alone finish. My master bedroom room is simply finished with some basic linseed oil. The wood is Jatoba (Brazilian Cherry) which is about three times harder than oak. With a finish like that touch ups can be done without any sanding at all. I recently touched up the area under Tori's studio bench where the chair feet had rolled about. Since there is no "layer" of finish on top the wood itself provides the "wear layer" this area was slightly lighter than the surrounding area. 10 minutes with a rag and a few drop of oil and it looks like the rest of the room. This floor is now 10 years old and still looks brand new. Keep in mind this is a bedroom and traffic is light...and dry. This type of finish would not holdup well in a Kitchen or heavy traffic area without more frequent care.

  • Clay B Clay B on Dec 23, 2011
    Yes, more coats. One trick if you don't want glossy. Do 3-4 more coats of glossy, then top coat with semigloss or satin. Glossy is a harder finish.

  • glossy CAN be harder if it is allowed to cure properly, because gloss has more solids.

  • Tamara S Tamara S on Dec 26, 2011
    Thanks, will keep that in mind when we have them add more coats in the Spring. T

  • Tamara S Tamara S on Dec 31, 2011
    I'd like to thank everyone for the advice on my hardwood floors.

  • No problem Tamara, that's why we are here. Happy New Year!

  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on Jan 01, 2012
    Tamara...I grew up in Michigan just north of Kalamazoo...and remember a Bellvue...between Battle Creek and Lansing...where is Belleville?

  • Tamara S Tamara S on Jan 02, 2012
    Off I94 between Ann Arbor and Romulus. It is a lake community, so I feel right at home. I grew up in Brighton and it is wonderful to be back in the country. But with the airport just one town over, for all the business travel we do!