If your timber flooring is looking a little worse for wear, you may be thinking about restoring it to its former glory. Sealing the timber floor is one way of doing so, and is a three-step process that should include a high-quality sealant that suits your specific needs.
In this article, we’ll teach you how to seal timber floors in your home, and provide some guidance on choosing a sealant that works for you.
Which sealant to choose?
When we refer to timber sealant, we’re referring to a product that protects the floor from weathering, spills, scratches, and wear and tear. Sealant literally adds a protective seal to the top layer of the timber, and can also be referred to as timber coating.
There are four common types of sealant: penetrating oils and waxes, curing oils and alkyds, oil modified urethanes and polyurethanes. Each of these types has its pros and cons, and we covered this in detail in our types of coating/sealant for your timber floors article, which we recommend reading. For example, oil modified urethanes contain volatile compounds that can emit gas for days, and so may not be suitable for people with respiratory issues. This is just a single thing to consider, other factors you’ll need to think about are the colour that will be achieved with the sealant, how much maintenance it will require (this is a big one for many people), its slip and wear resistance, how long it takes to dry, and the cost.
At Brisbanes Finest Floors, we tend to use oils from Intergrain and Sikkens for decks and for internal timber floors Loba, Polycure Durapol, which we believe are the best on the market.
How to seal timber floors
Sealing a timber floor is broken down into three parts: preparing the timber, sanding the timber, and sealing the timber.
1. Prepare the timber
Before you start doing anything, if you’re sealing an outdoor deck, make sure that there’s no rain forecast. You should also be aware of the drying time for your chosen sealant, particularly if you need to use the room over the coming hours or days (some oils take up to 3 days to dry).
Once confirmed, here’s how to prepare the timber:
If you’re sealing a deck, ensure that it has weathered as per the installer’s instructions.
Remove all items from the flooring.
Vacuum the flooring thoroughly.
If you’re sealing a deck, clean the timber with sugar soap, warm water, and a stiff bristle brush. Once complete, rinse the floor with a hose.
If you’ve cleaned the timber, wait for it to dry.
2. Sand the timber
Lightly sand the timber using a floor sanding machine (Polivacs are great for beginners), ensuring that you use the correct sandpaper—a good place to start is 60 grit. For more information about sanding, check out our floor sanding guide here.
When you’ve finished sanding, vacuum the floor again to pick up the dust.
3. Seal the timber
The process for sealing will depend on the product you’ve chosen, so be sure to read the instructions carefully.
It’s best to work on a single board at a time, applying long, continuous strokes to keep an even coating. When you’ve done one board, move onto the next.
When the first coating is applied, follow the instructions to check how long you have to wait before applying another (if another is needed at all). If you’re using oil, you’ll likely have to use less on the second coating because the timber will already be partially saturated.