How To Lacquer Or Oil A Wood Floor

Soooo…. You have a freshly sanded and thoroughly vacuumed floor. You’re at the stage where you are ready to lacquer or hardwax oil your wood floor. From now on I will refer to this task as just “lacquering”, for simplicities sake.

lacquering hardwood floors

What you need:

  • 8 inch roller (and handle and pole)
  • Brush
  • Finishing product of choice
  • Bucket or at least paint tray
  • Courage

This article isn’t about telling you what product to use, it’s about giving you the information needed to apply your finish of choice. You will be able to apply 95% of lacquers or hardwax oils with this method. Infact the only difference between lacquering and hardwax oiling is that I recommend a medium pile roller for lacquering or varnishing and a short pile roller for hardwax-oil.

Which brings me neatly to the topic of which roller to buy. I use a professional lacquering roller, most large lacquering companies will have their own rollers (they’re all pretty much the same). However I used to just use a high quality decorating roller. If you go down to your local decorating store, you need to look for pretty much the most expensive roller. Medium pile, no loss, gloss roller. If you buy the cheapest roller they have, you WILL have problems, no doubt in my mind.

As for the brush, its not so important, so long as its clean(new). If you use a very low quality brush you may spend a lot of time picking bristles out of the lacquer, which would just slow you down, which can cause problems in itself.

Shake the can thoroughly, before pouring into the bucket. Make sure you check the instructions to find out how much area 1 litre of your finish covers, so you don’t pour too much. If your product is a 2 pack, pour the hardener in slowly while stirring.

We want to ideally start in the corner farthest from the door, working your way back towards the door 1 strip at a time.

So you brush the lacquer along the ends of the boards into the corner (about 24 to 36 inches wide), then down the end board, with the grain, against the back wall about 4 or 5 feet(as demonstrated in the video). Then dip the roller in the bucket, rolling it around a bit to get the roller fully laden with lacquer. Then lift it out and start lacquering that area you have kind of drawn a border round.

The roller should be moving along the grain of the wood up and down the boards, no wider than the 24 to 36 inches and as long down the boards as you can before the lacquer starts getting a bit thin (4 or 5 feet is about right).

If you are having to press down on the floor with the roller to get the lacquer onto the floor then you don’t have enough lacquer on your roller. You don’t want puddles of lacquer on the floor but at the same time you need enough on there that it can form a smooth surface as liquids generally do. If it’s too thin the lacquer can dry with an orange peel effect on the surface.

Once you have rolled out that first area, continue brushing down the side of the board against the back wall another 4 to 5 feet. Lacquer that area in keeping with the first area (moving along the boards). Repeat until you are at the end of the room.

So now you have a strip along the edge of the floor lacquered, several boards wide from end to end. Go back to the other side of the floor and brush the ends of the next few boards. Now you don’t have to brush along the back wall, all you have to do is brush the ends of the boards and roller on the lacquer in between. Repeat this whole process of lacquering from one side of the room to the other in strips until you have covered the majority of the floor and you are now standing on the boards that lead out of the door.

Just like the beginning, you have to brush along the ends of the boards and along the wall, but this time you need to do it with smaller sections at a time. Only partially dip the roller in the bucket. Doing this will help prevent accidentally having a huge puddle by the end of the floorbecause if you get something wrong you won’t be able to walk across the floor and fix it.

Lacquer your way back out of the door and to safety. Pop the champagne.

Wow that’s tough to explain, I’m sure you can make sense of it from the video.

When lacquering and varnishing hardwood floors, you should put down one coat of primer or wood seal and 2 coats of lacquer. Some lacquers and varnishes don’t have a primer so rock on with the lacquer. In the video, I am lacquering a stained floor, stain can act as a primer in itself.

Before putting the final coat down, you should lightly key it (rub down) with 120 grit paper, hoover it and then put the last coat down. How to refinish a wooden floor without sanding perfectly depicts this procedure.

When hardwax oiling hardwood floors, generally you only need 2 coats. If you put on a third, no one would throw you in jail.

If you still don’t know which lacquer or oil you are going to use, you can find out what I use and recommend here.

If you have any questions, anything at all, please ask in the comments below. It’s difficult to see this from a newbies eyes so let me have it.

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