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voodoochile 06-18-2012 04:25 PM

Refinishing of oak floors gone bad
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My brother and I spent the weekend removing really old carpeting, sanding down the original 60 year old oak floors underneath, sealing them with sanding sealer, and applying two coats of polyurethane. Unfortunately, something went wrong, presumably towards the end of the process. It appears that the finish did not cure well and now there a tons of small gunky/sticky lumps all over the place. The photos show what some of these look like.

Two things come to mind as possible causes and I would love for someone with more experience than me to give some insight:

1) The home has a bare earth crawlspace and has had a fairly high level of humidity inside it over the years. After sanding the floors, it almost seemed like the bare oak floor boards were a little damp to the touch. However, I could be imagining this. The sealer seems to have gone on well and felt dry before we sanded it two hours later with 320 grit sandpaper per the instructions. The product we used was MinWax Sanding Sealer which supposedly is ready to be sanded after 1 hour. If the oak floors had moisture in them, could that lead to the lumps we're seeing? In other words, perhaps the sanding sealer did not cure and as a result the poly did not take either?

2) The first coat of "MinWax Super Fast-Drying Polyurethane For Floors" went on after the 320 grit sanding described above. Per the instructions, it should be dry within 6-8 hours and ready for another layer without sanding as long as it is applied before 10 hours have gone by. It actually did state that another coat could be applied after 6-8 hours AND if the floor was not sticky to the touch, but unfortunately I missed the last part of the instructions. In fact, the floor was just a little bit sticky when we applied the second coat after 7 hours (without sanding it again), and I wonder if perhaps that is the reason for the awful looking floors we now have. I suspect that the floors being sticky after the first coat of poly either means it never got to cure properly and/or that the second coat went on way too thick due to the fact that it was harder to apply it to a sticky surface.

We're hoping a light sanding of the poly coats will be sufficient so that we can apply two new coats and get more favorable results. I would really hate to have to sand everything back down to the bare wood!

Has anyone seen this type of issue before, and if so, what are your thoughts on why it happened?


Sockpuppet 06-18-2012 09:53 PM

Not to worry
I wouldn't sweat this too bad, it looks like the coat just didn't have enough time to fully cure. The cure time they give is an estimate in perfect conditions. If you give it a full 24 hours to set, you should be fine to buff the surface and apply another coat.

Maintenance 6 06-19-2012 03:57 PM

Did you thoroughly stir the finish before you applied it? Did you thin it with anything? Were both the sealer and the finish water based? or oil based?

voodoochile 06-19-2012 08:15 PM

I did indeed stir (not shake) everything. I read somewhere to stir slowly 100 turns in each direction. Cannot say I counted to 100, but I'm pretty sure I stirred it well. I did not thin the poly at all, but perhaps I should have?

The sanding sealer may have been water based, but the poly was definitely oil based. The MinWax sanding sealer label specifically suggested that it is ok to use the MinWax poly that I used.

RhodesHardwood 06-20-2012 12:16 AM

My guess would be that one of the coats wasn;t fully dry when another was applied. If that is not the case, then I am not sure. I would let it dry out for a few days and then screen really well and recoat the floor again. This will hopefully fix it.

voodoochile 06-20-2012 03:38 PM

Thanks everyone for your input! I might give it another try this weekend at which point it will have had 6 days to dry (I sure hope it is dry by then). As the house is five hours away from where I live (it's a shared family vacation home), I won't know the state of it until I get there, unfortunately.

I will first try to sand it down using 120 grit and hopefully that will be sufficient. Once I get the surface smooth again, would you recommend thinning out the poly at all or should it be ok as is out of the can?


RhodesHardwood 06-20-2012 03:47 PM

It won't be necessary to thin the poly.

voodoochile 06-21-2012 10:56 AM

Thanks again!

One quick additional question - the label does not seem to indicate that there is a certain temperature range above which it is not recommended to apply the poly. If the temps are in the 80s with fairly high humidity, could there be issues other than the drying time taking longer?

RhodesHardwood 06-21-2012 10:59 AM

No problem. Temperature will not be an issue. You are right, high humidity will slow down drying. Let me know if you have any other questions or concerns.

voodoochile 06-21-2012 01:10 PM

I think I am all set now - thanks for all of your help!!!!

RhodesHardwood 06-21-2012 01:15 PM


Originally Posted by voodoochile (Post 948435)
I think I am all set now - thanks for all of your help!!!!

No problem

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