Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Waterlox Refinishing Guide - My Version

Four lambswool pads, three stomach viruses, and four nights later, the floors in the hall, parlor, and dining room (soon-to-be study) are DONE.  For the first time in four days, we slept in our house again last night.  Whew!

I learned lots from my first DIY Waterlox experience.  If you should ever venture to use this product, here's what I found out:

1. Follow the guide - which includes a video from their website - to the letter.  When they say use one gallon per 500 square feet, they mean it - for every coat.  Even the coats that don't seem to need as much.  Apply liberally.  I think I unwittingly skimped a bit on the third coat, and the study floors are not as smooth as a result.

2. I had a little lint problem, and to this I fault both myself for not calling technical support sooner and the guide for being cryptic.  The video is very clear about tacking the floor with a lint-free rag soaked in mineral spirits before you begin, but the guide is not clear that you need to soak the rag in between coats as well.  So I just went over the floor with a dry rag between coats.  So don't bring a magnifying glass when you come visit, okay?

3. Ventilation is crucial for curing, because the Waterlox needs to bond with fresh oxygen in order to harden.  H2OLOX + O2 = hard floors...or something like that.  Anyway, it may be more time-efficient to use Waterlox when the weather tends to be more temperate, since high humidity or cold weather can slow the curing process.  Did I mention the curing process takes seven days?  Yup, that part is a drag.

Dining room (future study), with new heart pine flooring.
4. Waterlox really is pretty easy to apply.  It took me about 45 minutes to do almost 500 square feet, though prep time the first day took about an hour (vacuuming, tacking the floor).  It's also self-levelling, so I didn't end up with any splotches. 
Old heart pine on the left, new heart pine on the right.  Click here to see the "before" photo.
5.  There is an upfront cost to Waterlox.  It is much more expensive than polyurethane, but there's a silver lining.  In the long run, Waterlox may save you money because when your floors need to be refinished many years from now, they will not need to be stripped down again.  And if you have very old floors that have been stripped in the past, you may not have much wood to work with.  This was the case with us:
We don't know how many times these floors have been refinished, but as you can see from this cross-section, this will have to be the last time!
In my research, I also found that since the main ingredient in Waterlox is Tung oil, it's actually fairly environmentally friendly.  Made from the nut of the Tung tree, it's essentially organic and renewable.  So although we couldn't afford reclaimed flooring, maybe we made up for it in a way by using Waterlox. 


  1. Good one guys! Do you mind if we quote/reference you sometime? We'll be blogging about Vancouver hardwood refinishing fairly often.

  2. Sure, you're welcome to reference or quote me! I just visited your site and will keep checking back for your blog.