The biggest mistake you can ever commit on a refinished hardwood floor is putting back furniture sooner than you should do it. Sooner, in this case, means the new finish has not been given enough time to harden, penetrate, and ultimately cure. Several homeowners are unaware of this, but it completely derails your hardwood floor refinishing project. By now, you may be asking yourself, when can I put furniture on refinished hardwood floor? Well, here is…
The time taken before putting back furniture on refinished hardwood floors depends upon the kind of finish used. You should wait for not less than two days for a water-based polyurethane and at least four days for oil-based polyurethane. Other types of finishes have different times; it’s important to always consult your flooring professional or check the label if you are a DIY enthusiast.
Below, we delve deeper into the time that should elapse, and why so, before putting back your furniture on the refinished floor.
When to Put Furniture Back After a Water-Based Polyurethane Refinishing
Water-based polyurethane sets up much faster than oil-based polyurethane, but you still need to give your floors a lot of time to cure and harden before moving back furniture.
After refinishing your hardwood floor with water-based polyurethane, I recommend you to wait for at least three hours before setting foot on it and a minimum of 48 hours before putting furniture or any household items on it (72 hours minimum is better). The longer you wait, the better and successful your refinishing is likely to be and the less incidence of the damaged floor.
It’s also good to keep little kids and pets off of refinished floors for a week because they don’t have the conscience to tread carefully on such floors.
When to Put Back Furniture After Oil-Based Polyurethane
Oil-based polyurethane floors need a little more time to cure and fully dry compared to water-based poly floors, generally about double the time if you want a good and stable refinishing.
After refinishing your hardwood floor with oil-based polyurethane, wait for 3 to 4 days before stepping on the floors and at least five days before moving back furniture. The longer you wait, the better the quality of your refinishing is likely to turn out.
As you may have noticed thus far, the more drying time you allow your refinished floors, the better the results; this is especially true for oil-based polyurethane refinishing as it needs more time to set up and solidify.
There are simple ways to hasten the drying and hardening process, i.e., using heat lamps and fans, but I discourage you from doing this. There is a significant chance that you could ruin your floor’s refinishing if you hasten the process. It only takes a little mistake to interfere with the floor finish, and if this comes to pass, the floor will have to be stripped back, and you’ll start the entire process anew.
When to Put Back Furniture After Other Finishes
Suppose you’ve opted for a different direction to refinish your hardwood floor. For instance, a hard wax oil solution and natural stain, your “delay periods” will be different from the ones discussed above. I cannot list all the kinds of refinishing in this article, so I’ll advise you to take a look at the label of your finish and check with your local flooring professional.
You’ll need to think about things like high traffic regions on your floor surface (sections with a lot of foot traffic need more time to harden and dry compared to those that are less walked on). The durability and integrity of the floor sealant you’ve chosen and a host of other factors greatly influence the furniture replacement timeline.
Generally, you need to keep off of all refinished hardwood floors for at least two days or twice as long in an ideal situation. Keeping people, especially children, and pets poses a challenge, but you need to be vigilant and take extra steps like putting up signage to ward them off. Do this after applying the last coat on the hardwood floor.
When Can Rugs and Furniture Be Put on a Refinished Hardwood Floor?
Ideally, it should take a week before replacing furniture, but that’s almost universally frowned upon due to the inconveniences caused by such a long wait.
There are commercial-grade water-based finishes that cure entirely after three days only. So within 24 hours, you can put your furniture back, but carefully. This agent is the most rapid curing waterborne floor finish known, and it comes in handy for surfaces that need to be back to use quickly.
There are single-component water-based finishes that cure in 5 days. The surface is sufficiently cured. In this case, the surface will be sufficiently cured within 24 hours to receive furniture and light foot-traffic. All these placements are to be done carefully to avoid damaging the floor.
There’s a hard wax oil finish named Pallmann Magic Oil that fully cures in 24 hours. This finish has among the fastest cure rates worldwide and is used for emergency purposes. Here, you can bring back the furnishings after 24 hours, though you don’t have to be as cautious as in the other cases above.
I recommend you put new felt pads on furniture legs before putting them on the refinished floor; this reduces the pressure exerted on the delicate surface and reduces friction when dragging furniture across the floor. It goes without saying that it minimizes damage to the surface. Old felt pads have trapped dust and are worn out, which impacts negatively on refinished floors.
One more thing, be extra cautious not to drag furniture too much on refinished floors.
As for rugs and carpets, I suggest that you wait for an entire week (7 days) before laying them over refinished floors unless you’ve used commercial grade finishes such as Pall-X Gold, which only needs a 3-day wait, or Magic Oil finish, which only needs a 2-days’ wait before laying a rug on the floor. Rugs and carpets wait longer than furniture because they cover larger areas of the floor and prevent the solvents from evaporating, which will be detrimental to your project.
What’s the Difference Between Cure Time and Dry Time?
A common misinterpretation when it comes to flooring and applying a floor sealer is that ‘cure time’ and ‘dry time’ are the same thing; in fact, these terms describe two different but equally vital processes as described below:
- Cure time
Cure time is the time taken for all the solvents of a liquid carrier to evaporate from your hardwood floor, for the odors and fumes to stop being effused, and for the floor to harden fully. This time depends on the kind of refinishing system you’ve chosen, along with factors such as airflow, temperature, and humidity levels. With all factors kept constant, Hardwax Oils take 1-7 days to cure, Water-Based finishes take 7-14 days, while Oil-Modified Polyurethane takes 30 days to cure.
When a hardwood floor is fully cured, it can be exposed to normal long-term wear and tear without worrying much about damaging it. However, you don’t need a hardwood floor to cure completely before putting back furniture. 4 or 5 days after refinishing, your floor is ready enough to take furniture and other furnishings. Therefore, Cure Time should not be followed as a guide to putting back furniture on a refinished hardwood floor.
- Dry Time
Dry time is the time taken for liquids and surface solvents to evaporate from the hardwood surface, but not from the deeper layers. Dry time is typically shorter than cure time. When you set your hands on the floor during dry time, they will not stick or leave any mark. Dry time allows you to access your hardwood floor in between coat layers. During this time, hardwood floors are susceptible to damage from human feet and contaminants such as dirty water, pets’ urine, paints, etc. Hence, it would be best if you did not replace furniture on the floor during dry time.
The dry time for Water-Based finishes is 4-8 hours, dry time for Hardwax Oils is 4-24 hours, and that of Oil-Modified Polyurethane is 12-24 hours.
How to Care for Refinished Hardwood Floors
After refinishing, an old floor appears new again! That’s the whole point of this process. Subsequently, this new look has to be maintained for as long as possible, and you cannot ruin this by bringing back your furnishings too early. Replacing furniture at the right time is part of the gentle-treatment regimen that you should give a refinished floor. The new finish will generally take a week to cure and dry thoroughly. During this time, exposure to dust, high foot-traffic, and prematurely-placed furniture damages the surface. The following are some of the measures you need to take to keep that new-look profile going:
- Refrain from walking on the surface for 24 hours after d completing the refinishing process. Avoid putting back furniture on the surface during this period.
- Keep foot traffic to the area at a minimum for seven solid days. If you have to, walk cautiously on the floor and don’t drag heavy furniture pieces over it. The floor is prone to damage during this period as finishing agents are still curing.
- Keep the windows covered for at least 24 hours to prevent direct and excessive sunlight from irradiating the surface. Sunlight will not impair the floor upon curing.
Sweep the floor with a soft, dry mop within the first week if it becomes dirty, but do not mop or vacuum it. Desist from using cleaning agents on the surface during the first week because they will seep into the finish and prolong the curing process or damage it altogether.
- Start regular cleaning seven days after finishing. You can now sweep the floor on a daily basis to remove accumulated dirt, then mop once weekly using a hardwood floor cleaner. Keep away from using soap and water on hardwood floors.
- Clean up spills of water and other liquids immediately off the floor. Wipe them off with a clean cloth before they soak into the wood, which leads to unpleasant smells and rotting.
Ideally, it’s best to wait for 7 days before placing furniture on refinished hardwood! But this wait is long and usually inconvenient to most of us. Luckily, there’s an answer to that as discussed in this guide. Moving back furniture is contingent upon the kind of refinishing you are using.
There are several kinds of finishes, but the most common ones are water-based polyurethane and oil-based polyurethane, with the former requiring a longer wait time than the latter. Even for a particular finish, say oil-based, other aspects at play determine when to bring back furniture after refinishing; such factors include airflow, temperature, and humidity levels.
High temperature dries up the finishing agents faster than low temperature; therefore, you’ll wait for a shorter while to replace furniture on the floor. High humidity slows down the rate of evaporation of the refinishing agent from the floor surface; therefore, you’ll wait longer before you put back furniture when in a highly humid atmosphere. Airflow affects the drying rate of finished floors in the sense of accelerating the evaporation rate of refinishing agents. So you may still ask yourself..
When Can I Put Furniture on Refinished Hardwood Floor?
Well, I’ll give a vague answer to that, and it’s between two to six days! This is because there are lots of factors and dynamics involved in making the hardwood floor receptive for furniture after refinishing. A definitive answer to this inquest is based on the type of finish you are using, plus environmental factors as discussed above in this article.