Dry Time for Oil-Based Varathane on Floors

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When you stain hardwood floors, the common final step of the procedure is applying an oil-based polyurethane top coat to protect the finish from scuffs and scratches and make it easy to maintain. Varathane is a brand of wood stains and coatings manufactured by Rustoleum. The company claims Varathane oil-based polyurethane is the fastest drying brand available.

Typical Drying Time

  • Let the first coat of Varathane dry for four hours until it has lost the yellow tint it has in the can and looks crystal clear on the floor. Gently test the surface to make sure it is rock-hard, with no surface tackiness. Each subsequent coat should dry until the same tactile characteristics are confirmed. If any coat dries more than 12 hours, lightly sand the surface before applying the next coat to smooth the surface and prevent brush marks in the finish.

Atmospheric Considerations

  • Cold weather or climates with high humidity may increase drying times. Using space heaters or dehumidifiers in an adjacent room help the Varathane dry faster. Do not place the appliances in the same room as the floor being finished as they may make the polyurethane dry too fast and compromise the finish with brush marks or bubbles.

Application Procedure

  • Allow stained floors eight hours to dry before applying oil-based polyurethane Varathane. Check for dust or debris that may have adhered to the surface and remove it before applying the top coat. Stir the polyurethane before and during the application but do not shake it as the motion will create bubbles that transfer to the surface of the floor. For best results, use an applicator or brush with high quality natural bristles. Apply between two and three coats of Varathane and let the final coat dry a minimum of 24 hours before lightly walking on the floor. Let it dry for at least three days before exposing it to normal foot traffic or placing furniture on it.

Composition and Attributes

  • Varathane manufacturers claim their oil-based polyurethane product dries clearer than any other brand, which lets the natural grain of the wood shine through and, if used on unstained surfaces, imparts the wood with golden hues that grow slightly darker and warmer with age. Varathane is resistant to scratches, scuffs and stains. The coating is also self-leveling, which means it naturally flattens out heavier spots in the newly applied coating to be uniform with the rest of the surface.

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