How do You Touch up Polyurethane on Hardwood Floors

It’s not an uncommon question to ask if it’s okay to make slight corrections or adjustments on the polyurethane used on hardwood floors. If you’re one of the numerous individuals that ask this question, then you have come to the right place for an answer.

Before explaining how to touch up polyurethane on hardwood floors, it would be great to elaborate if it’s okay to use polyurethane on wood floors in the first place for perfect understanding. Yes, it’s okay to use polyurethane on wood floors. It’s a proven way to protect wood floors since it acts as a barrier between them. It amazingly helps protect the wood from the spills and scratches that would have been inexorable in ordinary life.

Since it’s established that polyurethane is helpful, how then can you touch it up on the hardwood floor? Touching up polyurethane is simple and straightforward. All you do includes sanding the area, cleaning it using a solvent like denatured alcohol afterward, applying the polyurethane, and leaving it to dry. You also need to make use of polyurethane that is solvent-based and get the same finish type (satin, gloss, etc.) and go ahead to apply some thick coats.

How do You Touch up Polyurethane on Hardwood Floors

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Does Your Polyurethane-finished Hardwood need to be recoated?

Yes, polyurethane-finished hardwood may need to be recoated. Recoating a polyurethane-finished hardwood is the act of adding a new polyurethane coating layer to the floor. Generally, depending on how you use your floors, re-coating is needed every 3 to 5 years.

How do you know the time when it comes? You will know that your polyurethane-finished hardwood needs recoating when the floor appears dull and has light scratches in the finish, which are left behind after a deep clean and polish.

By recoating your polyurethane-finished hardwood, you will extend the service life of the floor’s finish. This is done by protecting the hardwood from deep scratches that need refinishing for removal. Besides, you can effectively minimize the number of times required for refinishing floors over their lifespan just by recoating them.

You should know that the upper layer of the finish will be sanded lightly to get rid of scuffs during recoating. A new one will then be added to enhance the floor’s sheen and make the protective properties of the finish new again.

The complete process of recoating typically takes up to 24 hours, after which you will be chanced to walk on the floor within a few hours. This is possible if you use water-based polyurethane or oil-based polyurethane the following day.

Importantly, you should note that recoating can only be done with existing layers of the polyurethane finish. The polyurethane will fail to adhere and need refinishing if the floors have a wax coating. In some cases, to recoat the floors, the wax coating must be removed.

Steps to Recoat Polyurethane on Hardwood Floors

Polyurethane helps protect your wood floors by acting as a shield. It effectively guides the hardwood from spills and scratches that normally could not be avoided in everyday life. There are two basic types of polyurethane that you must consider when thinking of recoating it on your hardwood floors. These types include water-based polyurethane and oil-based polyurethane.

Note: Choosing any of these will depend on your hardwood floors type and color.

  • Water-based polyurethane: Any hardwood floor supports this type. This is because water-based polyurethane dries clear and retains its color over time, unlike its oil-based counterpart.
  • Oil-based polyurethane: This type features an amber or yellowish tint that becomes darker over time.

So, what are the steps to recoating polyurethane on hardwood floors?

  • Step One: Get the needed materials, including a wood floor cleaner, fine sandpaper, and polyurethane floor finish.
  • Step Two: Use the wood floor cleaner to clean a small part of the flooring thoroughly.
  • Step Three: Sand the section lightly using fine (120-grit) sandpaper, working appropriately with the wood grain.
  • Step Four:  Add polyurethane floor finish to the area and wait for about a day before checking the finish.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Check below some of the frequently asked questions about re-coating polyurethane on hardwood floors. Please, review them with their answers for further knowledge

Can I apply polyurethane over existing polyurethane?

You should know that you can apply polyurethane over a hardwood floor without stripping off the old polyurethane first. Doing so will not in any way affect the effectiveness of polyurethane. But this will depend on if you follow the necessary processes for the preparation. Preparing the finish appropriately makes recoating a polyurethane-finished hardwood possible. To do the work, start with a dull 120 to 150-grit abrasive screen or No. 2 steel wool and sand the floor softly using a heavy floor buffer to get rid of any dust.

Can I recoat polyurethane without sanding?

To improve the binding between the wood and the polyurethane, polyurethane does not need thinning or the use of a specific substance. Also, without clogging sandpaper, polyurethane does the work of sanding smoothly on its own when used as instructed. Nonetheless, there will always be dust nibs that you will need to sand off before applying the next coat to the surface due to how polyurethane dries slowly.

How many coats of polyurethane should I put on a hardwood floor?

It is recommended that you apply no less than 3 coats of polyurethane on hardwood floors. Notwithstanding, this will depend on the polyurethane type you have decided to use.

For oil-based polyurethane, you may not need more than 3 coats on hardwood floors. This is because hardwood floors are installed in high traffic areas, which calls for a great and thick layer to protect the wood for a long time.

For water-based polyurethane, you may need about 4–5 coats. You may need to apply these several more coats to get a smooth finish because water-based polyurethane does raise the grain of the wood.


Since you may sometimes need to provide your hardwood floors with the required protection against scratches and spills, knowing how to touch up polyurethane on your floor will be a wise step to take. This is what has been thoroughly elaborated on in this article. Follow the steps appropriately and have the recoating as you want it.

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