How to get air bubbles out of a polyurethane finish on a floor

Written by kevin mcdermott
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How to get air bubbles out of a polyurethane finish on a floor
(David Sacks/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Polyurethane gloss is what's usually used today to seal and glaze wood floors. Polyurethane dries harder and clearer than varnish, but one disadvantage is that it tends to develop bubbles while being applied if you're not careful. If the polyurethane finish on a wood floor dries with bubbles in it, it ruins the whole look. You can screen off the top layer of gloss, bubbles and all, without a full-out sanding of the wood, by using a standard floor buffer and floor screens, then reapplying a smooth coat of polyurethane.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Floor buffer
  • Screening disks for the buffer, in rough, medium and fine texture
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Polyurethane gloss
  • Gloss floor applicator
  • Extra-fine sandpaper

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  1. 1

    Set up your floor buffer with the roughest level of floor screening disk that you have. Set the buffer near one wall and turn it on. Run it along the floor boards, end to end, then work course by course across the room. The disk should take up the top layer of the existing floor gloss.

  2. 2

    Thoroughly vacuum up the dust.

  3. 3

    Re-load your floor buffer with the a medium flooring screen, and repeat the screening process from steps 1 and 2.

  4. 4

    Load the buffer with a fine screening disk and screen it one more time. It should leave the floor dull, clean and flat. Vacuum up all the dust.

  5. 5

    Open your can of polyurethane gloss and gently stir it. Never shake the can, as that will create bubbles. Gently pour out a line of gloss onto the floor by the corner of the room farthest from the entrance, making the line cross the floorboards. The line should be about as long as the head of your gloss floor applicator.

  6. 6

    Set the gloss floor applicator in the polyurethane. Pull it slowly backward in the direction of the boards, spreading the polyurethane. Pour more polyurethane as needed, and work your way across the floor in course. Do the whole floor. Let the polyurethane dry for six to eight hours.

  7. 7

    Sand the dried polyurethane by hand with extra-fine sandpaper, buffing it to remove just enough of the shine so the next coat of it will adhere. Wipe up the dust.

  8. 8

    Lay a second coat of polyurethane as before. Let it set, hand-sand it and lay a third coat. Let the third coat set for at least 48 hours.

Tips and warnings

  • Wear a paper dust mask when you screen the floor.

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