How to seal hardwood from National Floors Direct

How to Seal Hardwood Floors

When House Beautiful magazine selected their top 8 flooring trends for 2022, 6 of them were hardwoods. It seems that Americans always have been and always will be in love with the timeless elegance of hardwood floors.

One of the amazing qualities of a hardwood floor is that you can refinish it so easily. If it's showing its age you can sand it back and refinish it.

Feel like a new color? Just sand it down and apply a different stain.

But once you've sanded and stained your floor, how do you seal it? Read on to find out how to seal hardwood floors and what styles of finishes are hot right now.

Why Sealing Hardwoods Is Important

The words hardwood flooring make us think of strong, impenetrable, solid floors that are going to last for centuries whatever we throw at them. But throw a couple of kids and a dog at them and you'll soon find out that's not the case.

The hardness is relative and they need a helping hand from the right kind of finish to keep them looking good for years. Choose your sealer option with care. If you choose the wrong type, it might change color with age and leave an undesirable finish.

But the right sealer will help your hardwoods carry on looking good even when scuffs, scrapes, and accidents happen.

Hardwood Floor Sealing - What Are Your Options?

In the past, shellac was a popular way to seal hardwood floors. Now that's fallen out of fashion - no doubt to the relief of the bugs that are farmed to make it. 

Today, you've got three main choices, and they each have their pros and cons.

Water-Based Polyurethane Finish

Water-based polyurethane has become more popular than oil-based in recent years. It takes less time to dry and gives off fewer VOCs than oil-based. But its biggest selling point is that it goes down clear and stays clear.

Oil-based polyurethane sealers can yellow with age. This means that if you seal a beautiful white oak hardwood floor with oil-based, you could see it changing to an unattractive sepia color in a few years. 

A water-based polyurethane sealer will allow the natural quality of the wood to come through. It also won't distort the color of any stain you apply to the wood. But it will also not cover up any imperfections that are already lurking on the surface of the floor. 

When they first came on the market, some claimed they were slightly less durable than oil-based options. However, the latest options provide resilience that is equal to or stronger than oil-based products.

Oil Finishes

Oil has been used to finish wood since time immemorial and many people still appreciate the deep finish it gives to hardwood floors. Oil-based polyurethane finishes may not be perfect, but they do penetrate deep into the wood, giving a high level of protection. 

Plus, if you're going for a warm, amber appearance, oil is the way to go. They're a tried and true method of hardwood floor sealing and they're typically much cheaper than water-based polyurethane. 

The main drawback is that they contain more VOCs and take longer to dry. This can mean that you can't use the floors for days or even weeks. They also give off a strong odor which takes a long time to dissipate.

Wax Finish

Applying a wax finish to unfinished wood is not generally recommended. It produces a dull appearance that's not as attractive as other options and doesn't provide the same level of protection. 

But it can be a good option for adding a final layer of protection to finished floors.

How to Seal Hardwood Floors

One of the best hardwood floor sealing tips we can give you is to always sand the floor first.

This is true whether you're restoring existing hardwoods or undertaking hardwood floor sealing for the first time. Sanding prepares the surface to receive the sealer, but you don't want to leave it long after you've sanded it. This will leave the grain of the wood exposed and unprotected from the air.

Sealing Hardwood Floors with Oil-Based Sealers

Products vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, so always read the label and follow the instructions provided. Generally, you will need to:

  • Use a damp cloth to wipe away any dust from the sanding process
  • Start at the corner furthest away from the door
  • Pour the oil onto the hardwood and use a rag to work it into the hardwood
  • Remove any excess before moving on to the next section
  • Allow to dry according to the instructions, usually 24 to 48 hours
  • Apply a second and third coat as needed

The product will tell you how long you need to leave it before you can walk on it. It will usually tell you to leave it for longer before putting furniture on it, to allow the sealer to cure and harden. 

Hardwood Floor Finish Trends

For years the trend has been for high gloss flooring with a deep sheen or a neutral waxed effect. Now sealing hardwood floors with a matte sealer is having a moment.

There are practical advantages to a matte finish. First, they're less slippery so are potentially safer for the whole family. They are also more forgiving and can hide imperfections on the surface of the floor.

They also don't show up the dirt as badly, whereas high-gloss floors will show up every footprint and paw mark and need to be constantly cleaned.

Find Your Perfect Hardwood Floors at National Floors Direct

At National Floors Direct, we have a huge range of hardwood flooring options. If you've read how to seal hardwood floors and don't feel too confident, don't worry. You can leave it to our installation teams. 

Browse our range of hardwood floors and place your order today!