How to Apply Water Based Polyurethane to Wood Floors Without Bubbles

How to Apply Water Based Polyurethane to Wood Floors

What is the best way to apply polyurethane on wood floors?

Or how do I get a smooth finish with water based polyurethane?

If you are searching for the answer to these questions then you are in the right place.

Hardwood floors are getting popular day by day. They need polyurethane finish to stay strong. You can learn water based or oil based polyurethane applying process to make a glowing wooden floor.

However, a water based polyurethane floor finish requires less time to complete.

In this article, I will discuss how to apply water based polyurethane to wood floors. However, if you also want to know about the process of applying oil based polyurethane, you can check out my other article about oil based coatings.

Best Way to Apply Water Based Polyurethane on Wood Floors

Applying polyurethane to wood floors without bubbles can be a time-consuming task that requires multiple steps. But, once you master this art, you will be able to save lots of your valuable time and money. Let’s begin…

Things needed

  1. Roller pad or applicators
  2. Natural bristle brush
  3. Water based polyurethane
  4. Lint-free rag
  5. Proper protective equipment (mask, gloves, eyeglasses)
  6. 80 & 120-grit sandpaper
  7. Vacuum machine
  8. Floor Sanding Machine
  9. Container or can
  10. Cutting pad
  11. Mixing stick
  12. White vinegar

sanding hardwood floors with orbital sander

Step 01: Sanding down the wood floor

Sanding is an important part of this process. It makes your wooden floor ready to apply polyurethane coating over it. In other words, sanding makes your floor polish to accept the coating liquid smoothly. Rent or buy a medium-size sanding machine to start the process. Use the machine’s user manual for perfect operation.

Start sanding considering the condition of the floor. If the floor is in bad condition and you want to change the color of the floor completely then sand down the wood to bare wood. Nonetheless, you should screen and re-coat the floor which is in a fine state.

A sander machine works pretty fast and you are going to sand down a medium-sized room within 20-30 minutes. Make sure your hardwood floor is dry while performing sanding.

Remember that the dust from a sander machine can often settle and you may have to sweep up or vaccum a few times to make sure the surface is completely smooth.

Comments Ruban Selvanayagam of property auction/refurbishment specialists at Property Solvers.

Step 02: Vacuum the floor

Use the vacuum machine to clean all the dust and unwanted small particles from the floor. Carefully clean all the corners of the room so that small objects like hair, cotton etc cannot stay in the room. Cleaning is very important to get a beautiful topcoat.

After vacuuming the room, clean the floor with white vinegar and turn the fan on to let the room dry quickly. It will help the wooden floor become fresher and allow the polyurethane to attach with the floor firmly. Make sure that you have properly cleaned all edge and corners.

As the water based polyurethane is thinner than the oil based polyurethane, you should add stain on the wooden floor before applying water based polyurethane.

Step 03: Mixing polyurethane

This step is necessary to achieve a durable coating. Use a big jar or can to get all polyurethane liquid in one container. Moreover, pouring all liquid into one pot will assist them to mix properly.

After that, use a stirrer or mixing stick to remove all the bubbles that created inside the pot. Gently stir for 5-10 seconds. Usually, water based polyurethane is thin but never mix any other liquid with it to make it thick or do not provide any kind of heat to make it more condensed.

The container should be large enough to bear a sufficient amount of polyurethane for coating the entire room because you don’t want to run out of liquid at the middle of your work.

How to Apply Water Based Polyurethane on Wood Floors

Step 04: First coat

You need to coat three times with water based polyurethane. So, before start coating the room, you should coat the corners with a bristle brush. Corners are often missed or unreached by the big applicator and uncoated corners can hamper the beauty of a coated room. That’s why I am putting emphasizing on coating the corners separately.

After securing the corners, use a renowned T-bar applicator or roller to apply the first coating on the floor. Begin coating from the far side of the room and coat the whole room with a moderate speed. Do not put pressure on the applicator while coating. Just put fingertip pressure on it.

How to Apply Water Based Polyurethane on Wood Floors

Read Also: How to Clean Polyurethane Brush After Coating

Step 05: Let it dry

Water-based polyurethane is not as thick as oil-based polyurethane and these liquids take less time to dry then oil based polyurethane. It will take around 3-4 hours to dry the first coating.

Step 06: Second and third coat

Come back after 3-4 hours when the coating is fully dried, softly sand the entire floor with 220-grit sandpaper. Don’t sand harshly. Before giving the second coat, use liquid white vinegar on the floor and wipe it out with microfiber cloth.

It is important to clean the wooden floor before adding another layer. You can also use a vacuum machine to clean small particles. Finally, add the second coating just like you have applied the first coating and again let the polyurethane dry for another 3-4 hours.

After 3-4 hours, the water based liquid is going to dry. Again softly sand the surface and clean the dust. You can also use water in the cleaning process as you are applying water based polyurethane on the floor. Paint the third or final layer of coat and leave the floor for another 3-4 hours and your wooden floor will get prolific finish after the third coating layer is dried up.

How to Apply Water Based Polyurethane on Wood Floors


  1. Use Proper protective equipment throughout the whole process.
  2. Do not put excessive pressure on the applicator while coating.
  3. Stir the paint before applying each layer of coating.
  4. Keep your children and pets away from the polyurethane-coated wooden floor at the time of coating.
  5. You can use oil based polyurethane if you want the floor to have a darker appearance.

Final words

A polyurethane coating is an extremely useful liquid to increase the durability of the surface. Additionally, a perfectly coated wooden floor makes your home looks gorgeous.

But, to apply this liquid properly you need to follow the above-mentioned steps accurately. An Incorrect operation could lead to wastage of time and money.

Carefully follow this guide on how to apply water based polyurethane on hardwood floors to complete your next DIY projects.

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