How to Varnish Wood Floors

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Varnish is a protective sealant for wood floors. It is different from stain in that it does not penetrate the surface of the wood. Varnish can darken overtime and scratches easily, but a good varnish is easy to clean and durable. A quality varnish is highly recommended and is easy to apply. There are two types of varnish: oil-based and water-based. Both are ideal for sealing your wood floor.

Things You'll Need

  • Sponge pad brush
  • Varnish
  • Tack cloth
  • Paint the varnish onto your wood floor using a sponge pad brush. A badger hair paintbrush will present a smoother finish, but a sponge brush is easier to use.

  • Apply two coats of varnish to your wood floor, 24 hours apart. The first coat will dry in 12 hours, but the entire floor could take up to a week to thoroughly dry.

  • Work in a small area of the floor, applying a thin layer of varnish to the ends of a few floorboards and going in the direction of the grain. Continue moving along the floorboards in small sections.

  • Varnish the wood floors when the weather is at least 70 degrees F. If the weather is too cold or the air is too damp, the varnish will take longer to dry. Apply the varnish when it isn't windy. Dust can blow onto your wet varnish and stick.

  • Wipe the wood floor with tack cloth after the first coat of varnish dries. This will give your floor a smooth and shiny finish.

Tips & Warnings

  • Before you apply varnish to your wood floor, prepare the floor by sanding it down to remove all of the old varnish. Fill in all cracks and holes with a wood filler.
  • The floor, ceiling and surrounding areas must be free from dust before you apply varnish to your wood floors.

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