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Poly finish for softwood floor...?

776 Views 10 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  woodcheese
I'm trying to help my aging parents refinish a wood floor in a coastal, seasonal Maine cottage that was originally built in the 1890's. The floors being done are the second floor bedrooms and a shared hall, so it doesn't get the bulk or the brunt of the heaviest traffic in the place. The floors are a softwood though, possibly pine or fir. The existing finish was paint on most, but not all, of the floors with areas of linoleum or area rugs covering much of the floor. They've had other family members helping with this, and so far, last fall, they sanded down the wood floors and put down two coats of a Valspar "porch and floor" latex satin enamel. Being that it's still just a painted surface, and even though there are area rugs back down on the floor, the exposed parts of the painted floor are starting to develop scuffs and scratches.

I'm not good with finishing, so I went to two different paint supply stores (not big box stores) to talk to experienced staff. But, at this point I still need help figuring out what might be better for two products that were recommended to me. One was Minwax Ultra-Fast Drying Poly for Floors (water based satin because of the paint already down), and the other was Old Masters Master Armor possibly using Old Masters Masters Armor Part B Hardener mixed in. For reference, I added the the MFG links.

I'm a little concerned about the fast drying time on these water based products on room sized floors causing wet edges to become sticky in the application, which would result in a possibly crappy final finish. These products seem to dry before self-leveling occurs and without good, careful application, ridges can result. I'm additionally concerned, because it's going to be my sister doing this, and she's not super experienced with this kind of stuff. I was also reading a LJ review of the Old Masters Masters Armor from last year that mentioned the possible problems because of the fast drying time. Is it possible to add a thinning agent to get longer drying times to help? And, is there a hardening agent that could be added to the Minwax poly for a more durable surface? I should add that they're trying to get this done as soon as they can.

I'd appreciate any help or advice! I'm open to other finishing options as well. I'd just like it to be a long lasting protective finish. Thanks in advance!
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If it was still bare wood, Varathane makes excellent oil based finish. I used it over thirty years ago in our home, in the main traffic areas. Still holding up like iron. You asked too late for that, so…. But a large painting pad and paint tray to dip it in make quick work on floors. I did ours in sections, always working to the joints between boards.
Soft wood will flex and ding no matter what. You need a softer finish to prevent cracking and delamination. Stain is the order of the day. A hard epoxy will look like hell in short time unless poured thick enough to distribute the force. Think barcote.
Thanks @ibewjon and @madmark2. I was thinking it should have been an oil based finish originally as well, but it is too late for that unfortunately. Good points @madmark2, I hadn't thought about. The situation with the family members involved has become a "too many cooks in the kitchen" situation. At this point, some are insisting on a hardening additive to a last coat of paint called Crown Latex Agent Hard Coat. I'm just going to let them do whatever they want, and wash my hands of it at this point.
So many worry about a durable finish and don't pay attention to the MSDS. Some finishes take days to cure its nasty air to breathe.
Just a note here. MSDS has been changed to SDS. Safety data sheet. Same form, different name. I don't remember the reason, although I should.
Just a note here. MSDS has been changed to SDS. Safety data sheet. Same form, different name. I don t remember the reason, although I should.

- ibewjon
Thanks for that . I didn't get the memo :)
I have recently been exploring new to me finishes. Many of these finishes are commercial products and built for high traffic areas.

I have used Benjamin Moore's Advance Alkyd Enamel a couple of times now. It's a watbourne product that cures very hard. I haven't tested dit on a floor, but the couple of things I have put it on, it's worn pretty well. I like it. It might be an answer.

I recently discovered Ben Moore Ultra Spec Scuff-X. Also. commercial high traffic area coating. We've been really, really impressed with this product. But again, I haven't tried it on floors.

While these two products might not be the exact answer you're looking for, I would definitely suggest finding a good flooring place and asking them what finish to use. Maybe do some research into commercial finishes?

Depending on how long term of a solution you are looking at, you might try an epoxy? One of the water thin types, maybe? Be expensive, I'd imagine, though.
Thanks @axis39. I'll take a look at those.
You are fighting a losing battle trying to cover latex paint with a coating trying to make it more abrasion resistant.

You can trust me , or do it and learn the hard way.

I'd bite the bullet and strip off the paint and start over with a hardwax oil. That will show wear less and is much easier to repair / refresh when it does. You just wipe on and wipe off in the affected area. Some of them come in colors if that's your desire.
@xedos, that's what I'm kind of thinking too. Unfortunately, this has been a "decision by committee" kind of situation, and some of the family members involved just want to plow ahead with the hardener agent in a last coat of paint. There's also a bit of a time constraint involved that I won't get into. I used to work as a cabinetmaker, though I'm not great with the subject of finishes. This has been an aggravating situation, so I'm just letting the others complete it how they want with the hardened paint. Down the line, when it needs to be done again (sigh), I'll be lobbying to finish it right with an oil based finish, probably hardwax or protective stain. Thanks for the input.
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