8 crucial steps for varnishing wood floors

Wood flooring can add warmth and elegance to any room. If you want to brighten up your home by refinishing your floors, Peintures MF can help. We’re the top Quebec specialist in paint and varnish of all kinds. Our team understands that a properly varnished floor will enhance the beauty of your home and provide visitors with a great first impression. Here are eight steps to follow when varnishing wood floors to ensure they look their best. 

Gather the right materials

Before you get started, it’s important to check that you have everything you need on hand. You’ll require a vacuum cleaner, 150- to 220-grit sandpaper, an applicator pad or a 10-millimetre roller, as well as materials to clean the surface such as clean cloths and an all-purpose cleaner.

You’ll also need to choose a quality varnish that’s right for the job. At Peintures MF, we recommend ISO-THANE products, available with a semi-gloss and satin finish. These products are easy to apply and can be used on new or previously varnished and stained wood floors. They also provide superior resistance to scratches, stains and typical wear.

Prepare the room

The space will need to be completely cleared, so start by removing furniture from the room, then vacuum up any dust and dirt. Finally, use an all-purpose cleaning product to wash the entire surface. Once the floor is dry, you’ll need to sand it down to ensure a smooth surface. Be sure to vacuum the floor again to remove any debris created during the sanding process.

Start with the edges

Although this step is optional, it’s one that will help ensure you get the best possible result. Before you move on to the entire surface, it’s best to apply varnish around the edges of the room. This way, you can focus on achieving a clear, uniform coat where the floor meets the baseboards. Be sure you’ve properly mixed the varnish according to the manufacturer’s instructions before you begin. Carefully apply the varnish and, if you get any of it on the baseboards, immediately wipe it away before it dries.

Apply the first coat

Start at one corner of the room and end at the corner nearest the door. If you’re using a roller, pour the varnish into a paint tray. Evenly coat the roller in varnish, then place it on the floor in the starting corner and slowly pull it toward you in one continuous motion. Be sure not to apply pressure as you spread the varnish. 

If you’re using an applicator pad, pour the varnish directly on the floor in the direction of the boards. Place the pad on the floor at a 45-degree angle to allow excess varnish to flow toward unvarnished areas. Avoid creating an excessively thick layer by not going over the same spot twice. Once you’ve moved in a straight line from one end of the room to the other, begin again with the next section.

Let the varnish dry

Avoid using fans or heat to speed up the drying process. It takes a minimum of three hours for the varnish to completely dry and cure. In the meantime, cover your materials and any remaining varnish in the paint tray, and seal the container.

Re-sand the floor (optional)

If necessary, a light sanding between coats of varnish using 320-grit sandpaper will remove any roughness and imperfections. Once the floor has been sanded, go over it with a slightly damp cloth to clean up the sanding dust. Let it dry completely. 

Apply the second coat

Follow the same procedure you did to apply the first coat of varnish. This will ensure a smooth, uniform and long-lasting finish. To maximize the quality of your results, a third coat of varnish can be applied. This will improve the durability of the finish and further protect your floors. As you did earlier, be sure to allow the varnish to completely dry and sand any imperfections before moving on to the next step.

Redecorate the room

Wait about 24 hours before you move furniture back into the room. Ideally, you’ll install protective felt pads underneath each piece to prevent scratches and to keep your floor in good condition. Wait at least a week before you clean the floor for the first time, to ensure the varnish has soaked in sufficiently. Use a mild, non-abrasive cleaner to avoid damaging the finish, and wash the floor in a circular motion using a soft cloth. Refer to the instructions that came with the varnish for more information about proper floor care and maintenance. 

Peintures MF: experts in professional painting and refinishing

At Peintures MF, we take great care to design products that meet the needs of professional painters, designers, architects and homeowners. No matter what project you’re working on, we have the products you need to achieve great results. Visit your local Peintures MF retailer to purchase our new ISO-THANE wood flooring products, and check out our other articles for more helpful tips.


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