How To Varnish Wood Floors: Start To Finish

What You'll Need
Wood filler
Clean socks
Latex gloves
Steel wool
Extra fine sandpaper
Varnish brush
Paint thinner
Oil based varnish

Varnish can help keep your wood floors looking great. When applied properly, it can also add extra protection.

Step 1 – Preparing the Floor

Remove all furniture from the room, including any rugs. Use a vacuum to clean any dust, dirt and pet hair. This debris can reduce the effectiveness of the sandpaper.

Step 2 – Sand the Floor

You must apply varnish to bare wood. Use an extra fine sand paper to sand off the existing finish until you see bare wood. For smaller floors, this can be done by hand or using a belt sander. If you are working on a large room, you may need to use a drum sander. You can rent one of these machines from nearly any tool rental shop.

Step 3 – Repair any Marks

Look over your floor carefully and find any cracks or dents. Fill them with wood filler, and wear latex gloves while you smooth the substance with your fingers.

Step 4 – Clean the Surface

Sweep the dust from the floor. Vacuum the floor to remove any trace elements of dust. Use the hose attachment to vacuum the walls and ceiling as well. This is to prevent dust from collecting on the wet varnish.

Use a damp mop to finish cleaning the floor surface before proceeding. It is important to note that the mop can not be too wet. If it is wet, you may have to allow the floor to dry for several days before you can apply the varnish.

Step 5 – Apply the Varnish

Use your brush to apply the new oil-based varnish to the floor. Apply in sections which are no larger than 4 to 5 square feet. When making  the strokes, try to follow the wood grain. This will ensure that the varnish looks natural.

Step 6 – Add a Second Coat

Allow the new varnish to set for 24 to 36 hours. The length of time required for this depends on the climate. Apply a second coat to the floor using the same technique. It may also be necessary to apply a third or even a fourth coat. Three coats is quite common.

When finished with the second coat, allow it to dry for another 24 to 36 hours. If the color has set well, you will not need a third coat.

Do not walk on the floor for at least 24 hours once the job has been completed.