When it comes to sanding and refinishing hardwood floors, one of the key questions customers ask me is “how long does it take for the floors to dry?”

 

how long does it take polyurethane to dryWell this of course depends on the type of polyurethane you are using – is it oil based or water based polyurethane?  And, this article on “How long does it take to refinish hardwood floors?” should come in handy for an overview of the whole process from start to finish.

 

For purposes of this post, this timeline is from the time the last coat of polyurethane is applied.  Please note that these times are estimates and times can vary, especially based on humidity levels.

 

Length of time to dry for oil based polyurethane:

time for polyurethane to dry Oil based polyurethane takes longer to dry than water based poly.

 

  • 24 hrs before you can walk on the floors
  • Hours 24-48, you can walk on the floors with socks.  Avoid shoes and bare feet.  And, make sure your pets (who usually have bare feet) do not walk on the floors during this time.
  • 48 hrs you can walk on it with shoes
  • After 4 days, you can move furniture back on to the floors.
  • It takes a full 30 days for the floors to cure, so it’s ideal to wait 30 days before putting area rugs on the surface.  If you need to/want to put them on sooner, then 2 weeks is another good benchmark, but 30 days is better.

 

Length of time to dry for water based polyurethane:

time for polyurethane to cureWater based polyurethane dries faster

  • 4-6 hrs before you can walk on the floors
  • Hours 6-24, you can walk on the floors with socks.  Avoid shoes and bare feet.  And, make sure your pets don’t walk on the floors during this interval.
  • After 24 hrs you can walk on it with shoes
  • After 2 days, you can move furniture back.
  • It takes a full 30 days for the floors to cure, so it’s ideal to wait 30 days before putting area rugs on the surface.  If you want to put area rugs back sooner, than 2 weeks is another good benchmark.

 

How long for polyurethane take to cure?

Oil based finishes dry/cure in 2 phases. First, the thinners evaporate and the finish becomes tack free (see above). Then, oxygen begins to combine with the varnish and curing process starts. It’s the curing that makes the finish hard, durable and creates the full adhesion with the floor. This curing process can take up to 4 weeks or so depending on environmental conditions (e.g. humidity) and how thick a film was applied and number of coats of polyurethane. As long as the poly is emitting an odor (even if it’s mild), it’s still curing.

 

How long for polyurethan to dryOther useful articles on refinishing hardwood and polyurethane:

schedule free flooring consultation2

 

The Flooring Girl 914-937-2950

Map of Westchester hardwood floor refinishing


View Westchester Hardwood Floor Refinishing in a larger map

How long does it take polyurethane to dry?

Reviews for “How long does it take polyurethane to dry?” article

Please tell us what you think about this article?  Is it helpful?  Feel free to rate this article.

TheFlooringGirl

My name is Debbie Gartner, and I'm known as "The Flooring Girl." I own my own flooring store called Floor Coverings International, and we serve Westchester NY and Fairfield CT counties.We install hardwood flooring, carpet, tile flooring, laminate, bamboo and cork flooring. We also refinish hardwood floors. We are a shop at home flooring store. You can call us at 914-937-2950 to schedule a free flooring consultation or email us at debbie@TheFlooringGirl.com. Let us "bring the store to your door."If you are calling outside of Westchester/Fairfield Counties, please contact us at 914-407-3899.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Click here to submit your review.


Submit your review
* Required Field

6 Response Comments

  • Beth  April 13, 2015 at 9:16 am

    Just had my floors refinished 3 days ago. My assumption is that they used an oil-based poly. We’ve returned to the home, but are waiting a few more days to put furniture back in, will wait longer for area rugs, as suggested. The odor is still very strong and I’m very concerned about spending too much time here (especially sleeping) with the toxic air. I’m ventilating the house as much as possible and will continue to do so, outside temp is in the 60’s this week. I have 2 questions for you. I’ve done a little research and am confused by whether I should be having my heat on, to help with curing, or just have windows open with the natural 60/65 degree temps?
    Also, I’ve read about fan usage to help the process along. Does that mean just using the ceiling fans in my home or should I be using my whole house fan that is part of my HVAC system? I look forward to hearing your input. Thank you!

    Reply
    • TheFlooringGirl  April 18, 2015 at 7:09 am

      Beth – all good q’s. Yes, after 24 hrs, it’s good to open windows to reduce the odor. You house should be at least 65 degrees at all times during the process and the 30 days following. Otherwise, your board can expand/contract and cause issues with the poly such as white line syndrome.
      Fan (of any sort) help. Fans/wind, etc make things dry faster.

      Reply
  • Lori Hochrine  June 29, 2015 at 10:34 am

    I stained and urethaned a bedroom floor. Stain was 6 days down and dry. I put urethane ( water oil modified satin). I have white marks it looks like something spilled and ran at one time. The thing is the floor took the stain and the marks weren’t noticeable. With the urethane down these marks are very obvious. Can I sand down those spots to bare wood scrub with a good cleaner than restrain and reurethane to blend this in. A bit aggravated over all.

    Reply
    • TheFlooringGirl  June 30, 2015 at 6:44 am

      Lori – Sorry to hear that. Did you sand 3 times, with 3 different grits? This may be your issue. And, yes, sometimes, you don’t see the issues until later.

      Unfortunately, it sounds like you will need to start again.

      If you have been trying this yourself, it may be time to call in the professionals. You’ll get a much better job and it will be done much faster.

      Reply

Leave A Comment

Please enter your name. Please enter an valid email address. Please enter a message.