How to polish your timber floor


All timber floors need polishing in order not to wear and deteriorate by being exposed to the elements. Ensure that you reapply the polish before the old finish is worn all the way down to the wood. If that happens, you will need to sand back all the finish before you can apply the polish again.

After sanding the timber floor, it is time to give it that protective layer of polish to bring up the desired colour, gloss and protection to make it last longer. Depending on the level of gloss and durability you want from the polish, you will mainly decide between a water based floor finish and a polyurethane finish.

Advantages of water based polish

A water based finish has the main advantage of having minimal odour on application. You can get a water based finish ranging from matt to gloss levels, though not as glossy as some of the solvent based products. It does not darken as much with age as floors polished with polyurethane. The water based polishes will normally need less time to cure than polyurethane, and should be ready for normal use after 2 days depending on the weather conditions.

Advantages of polyurethane polish

The main advantage of a polyurethane is the longevity of the finish, resulting in a longer time from application until the next time you need to reapply. It is highly recommended to use polyurethane in high traffic areas and in rental accommodations. If you want a high gloss finish, you will also need to choose a solvent based finish like polyurethane. Max Francis, a second generation Brisbane floor sander, recommends using a two pack polyurethane.

Spotless surface

Before application, it is essential to remove all dust, hair and loose objects from the floor. If any dust or strands of hair is left on the floor, it will be sealed into the floor with the polish on application. It is recommended to vacuum two times to ensure any dust in the air can settle and be vacuumed the second time. Go over the floor to ensure you have not missed any cracks or nail holes. Fill in any holes and small cracks with filler. After the filler dries hard, sand it back and vacuum again and wipe with a rag – there will always be some dust particles left that the vacuum cleaner will not remove.


Follow the instructions for mixing and applying your chosen finish. Use a quality brush with white bristles to apply the polish. Brushing it longways and then sideways will ensure that the polish will soak up in all crevices as needed. Always finish off the application by brushing gently along the grain of the wood. Continue this process in section by section until you have covered the whole floor. Remember to end up with polishing the area of the doorway last, as you do not want to end up stuck in a corner. After you have applied finish to the whole area, let it dry for the amount of time specified on your product.

Some woods may feel rough after the first application. In these cases, give the floor a light sand with a very fine grit. Remove all dust from sanding as previously, and apply another coat of polish as described above.

Let the floors cure for the amount of time specified on the packaging of the polish of your choice before using it again.

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  1. Pingback : How to sand your timber floor | DIYit

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