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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-23-2013, 07:30 PM Thread Starter
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Default Wood floor polyurethane question

Hello to all,

Not sure if I am in right section or even in right forum for this question, but had to ask. I am having quite a bit of problems with these oil polyurethanes while refinishing my wood floors. Had everything from bubbles, or whatever they are that look like unpopped bubbles, to not enough finish applied, to every other issue that was supposedly the cause. Is there a good oil finish left for wood floors, and if so, what do you suggest? I have tried Bona, Varathane, Waterlox, and each has issues. Bona was inconsistent in bubbles and sheen, Varathane created too many bubbles, and Waterlox was too tender, as explained to me, as I didn't apply enough as told. But I did and it was even three coats. And yes, I used clean brushed, cleaned floor very well, did everything right. Has to be the products I used.

I originally used Varathane 15 years ago when floors were new and unfinished and had absolutely zero issues with these bubbles or bumps in finish regardless how it was applied. I don't like Bona because semi gloss is too dull, and gloss is too shiny. Don't want to even try mixing the two, and in addition, again too many bubbles not popping. Waterlox I am not impressed with regardless what anyone says.

What is the best polyurethane sold today for wood floors that doesn't have these issues and has to be treated with golden gloves to apply? I am running out of patience, time and money on these changed VOC's that are ruining these finishes. I do not like water based period. Anyone have recent good luck with any floors? Any pro's out there that can offer some advise? Many thanks in advance.

Just wanted to add that I had best results with foam brushes on floor, but very hard to do and time consuming. wondering if time of year may be biggest issue when doing floors??? Had no problems doing two rooms with Bona using roller that was designed for water based finish. It applied heavy coat. No bubbles, no problems, but terrible sheen that I didn't like. All other issues that I had occurred during spring and summer. I am seriously wondering if winter is best time to do this, as air is drier, finish should dry quicker, per other rooms' results?? I am really at wits end on this and almost ready to throw in the brush, roller, and every other applicator I bought on this. There has to be a darn good product out there that someone who does this for a living can help me with.

Last edited by Greg Brophey; 10-23-2013 at 07:38 PM. Reason: adding info
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-23-2013, 08:27 PM
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Hey, Greg; welcome!
In all the years I was doing renos, I only ever saw my hardwood floor sub contractor use lambswool applicators. As for myself, using waterbourne poly on casework, I use foam applicators exclusively. I've not had any particular problem with bubbles with any brand of poly, solvent or waterbourne. Having said that, I try not to apply back over a 'brush' stroke more than once...basically one back stroke. That's it.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-23-2013, 10:34 PM
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I have had trouble with bubbles in my finishes at times and my personal opinion is that all the finishes these days dry too fast. They don't allow time for the bubble to pop before the finish dries over it. I don't remember having this problem when varnish took 24 hrs to dry. I have used a hair dryer to pop the bubbles, Otis (OPG3) uses a propane torch. Make sure that you are stirring the liquid and not shaking the can. High humidity can cause drying problems and a hazy finish. If you use oil based in the winter I suggest you have somewhere else to sleep for a day or two.

Someone I consider a master woodworker once told me that a master woodworker is not someone who never makes mistakes. He is someone who is able to cover them up so that no one can tell.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-24-2013, 12:20 AM
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+1 on humidity and temperature...

Which I noticed (hinted by your curiosity on times of the year) that you didn't post the relative humidity or the floor's temperature. I notice if I keep things warm and "dry"... then the bubbles have time to pop. Humidity high or coold and they don't.

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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-24-2013, 07:02 AM
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It almost sounds as if they shook the can. I picked up a gallon of Varathane that been returned, but not before it had been shaken. 4 hours of this and I went with General Finishes Enduro-Var and now I do not use anything else.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-24-2013, 01:21 PM
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Shaking the can will give small bubbles. Ensure you stir, never shake.

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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-27-2013, 12:37 PM
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I had some hardwood floors refinished some time ago by a pro Co.. When first finished with all coatings the floor looked terrible with orange peal, and bubbles and dry spots everywhere. (waterbase coverings) After a week drying time, B C Canada, they lightly sanded and polished all floors. The finish is still looking fantastic and super durable.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-27-2013, 09:47 PM
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I used the lamb wool applicator, and I believe it was Parks oil based varnish (bought at Home depot about 10 years ago). No bubbles, no streaks, and great durability. I used 3 coats.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-28-2013, 08:32 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks to all who have responded as I have waited to hear your views patiently. Most of what everyone has said as possible issues were done as I pretty much know better. Most important question is what have you people used that gave you excellent results in an oil finish? A finish made under today's EPA standards as all formulas had to be changed.

I would appreciate this, only as it regards flooring finish, as I have no issues finishing any other items, such as cabinets, doors, woodwork, etc. It is only floors that is the issue. I only want to relate one additional info that was not said ealier. This is not my first time doing floors as I did these same floors 15 years ago and extremely pleased with finish, zero problems and did it by hand using brush. No bubbles, no streaks, no issues three coats, with first coat mixed with paint thinner to penetrate oak and cherry virgin wood. Whole house done this way, one room at a time at different times to minimize any toxic issues. Used Varathane Oil finish semi gloss sold at Lowes and floors were only redone due to heavy smoke fire in house caused by defective coffee pot almost burning done house.
Dealing with insurance company over this damage is another issue, but should have let it burn down and not have risked my life going into smoke filled house to extinguish fire. That is a major no-no. Let it burn. This smoke is so dangerous you cannot believe it. and yes, floors were cleaned off and sanded of any smoke residue with HEPA vac.

Just floors and what finish you used under today's standards of VOC safety.
Again, do not like water based, so please no water based finish. I appreciate all your comments and what to not do, but I did follow professional standards on this floor to a higher degree than most professionals would, as I have time and time is money for them, so I would like to think I most likely held my preparedness to a higher level. However my knowledge and experience of all the different floor finishes is not high. I need your responses on what you used and how you did it. I might pick up on something that I might have overlooked, but a few posters responded to temp and humidity, and that is my best first guess as the issue. Still can't make sense of how you southern flooring finishers cope with this, as it is constant there. Maybe I need to get it on floor quicker using a T bar instead of brushing, as this may be the missing detail with today's changed formulas that is a good thing that has happened for the environment, not a bad thing. Only wish they would put pressure on other countries to clean up their mess too. Hard to understand putting some many VOC compliances on this and letting China pollute our air, our products we import, and our food and drywall we import, but again, I am getting off topic as I talk too much.

Please comment as there is not right or wrong answer here, only what you experienced will be very valuable for me to go on.

thanks again.

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