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I have a hardwood floor I've recently finished staining. I'd like to apply polyurethane but I don't think I can cordon off the entire area for the duration. Is it alright to apply the sealer in sections?

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If you can block off the entire area for four hours you can try waterbased urethane it dries quicker than the solvent based type. It dries quicker when the weather is cooler and drier then in humid weather. You can put down a coat,go to bed then light sand and second coat in the morning. –  mikes Aug 3 '12 at 1:21

2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Surface finishes are notoriously difficult to get smooth when the process is interrupted. The glossier the finish, the harder to have sections blend.

If you are talking about preliminary coats, especially if they will get a light sanding between coats, this is probably ok. For the finish coat, I would strive hard to do it all in one shot.

If you simply cannot, try to find a transition area that will be less noticable, such as an area covered by rugs or furniture. You also might try cutting the transition from one section/session to another along a long board line, but this is hard with poly.

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Thanks for the explanation. I tried looking around online but didn't really find anyone addressing the problem itself. I'll probably end up goin the extra effort to make sure I don't screw it up. =D –  Danny Aug 3 '12 at 2:22
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If it is absolutely necessary to do it in two sessions, run some blue painter's tape exactly on a joint in the floor. Be sure to pull the tape immediately after putting down the urethane so it has no chance to start setting up. –  shirlock homes Aug 3 '12 at 12:19

I highly recommend NOT seperating the coats. You will see a visible line where you stop and start again and the sheen won't exactly match. Definitely go with a water-based polyurethane as Mike suggested for a quicker dry time. I know it's exciting to want to complete the project but don't be afraid to be patient with your floors. They're a lifetime investment and worth the care and additional wait.

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