How To Remove And Apply Polyurethane On Hardwood Floors: A Simple Guide

In this guide we’ll show you how to remove and apply polyurethane on hardwood floors.

Hardwood floors is found in almost every house, no matter the size. Therefore, hardwood is by far the best choice of flooring.

But after years of pulling furniture, spilling, scratching, and simply living in your home your floors will show marks.

What if we tell you that there’s a solution? Nothing can fix your floor and give it a new life better than polyurethane.

Applying polyurethane to hardwood floors can be a little tricky but is definitely worth it.

Do you know how to apply polyurethane on Hardwood Floors? If not, keep on reading to learn how to remove and apply polyurethane on hardwood floors by yourself.

What Is Polyurethane For Hardwood Floors?

Polyurethane gives your Hardwood floors a high gloss finish and shine. Not only that, but it provides protection as well.

Perhaps you’re someone who likes their floor clean and without rugs. With shine and protection provided by polyurethane, you’ll never need anything else.

What Do You Need Before Starting To Apply Polyurethane On Hardwood Floors?

We mentioned the great shine and protection you get with polyurethane.

Another important thing to mention is that it’s not the easiest and quickest DIY project.

You will need specific tools, materials and some time to apply or remove polyurethane. To save you some last minute shopping we’ve made a list of what you’ll need before start:

  • PolyurethaneWet,
  • Dry sandpaper,
  • 100, 150, 220 grits
  • Clean cloths
  • Tack cloth
  • Mineral spirits
  • Automotive polishing compound
  • Automotive rubbing compound
  • Sanding block
  • Vacuum cleaner for hardwood floors

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t know how to apply polyurethane to hardwood floors.

Once you get everything you need to start just follow our guide and watch your floors come to life.

List Of Steps

1/ Preparation

apply polyurethane on hardwood floors

Preparation is as important as application of polyurethane on hardwood floors itself. Therefore, make sure you have a clean surface to start with.

To accomplish a clean and smooth surface you first need to remove any existing covering. Of course, there’s a slight difference between preparing new floor and a floor already covered with polyurethane.

If your floor is new, you need to scuff sand it first.

Then simply vacuum the dust and clean the floor with cloth and mineral spirits.

On another hand, if there’s an old coating of polyurethane you need to remove it. Removing polyurethane is a process itself so please read the following guide on how to do it.

2/ Precautions

Of course, as with any other tasks, there are safety precautions to apply polyurethane on hardwood floors.

For example, if you’re sensitive to fumes you might want to wear a vapor respirator. Also, have a fan facing out your window and open a window on another end of the room. That will keep a constant flow of fresh air.

Make sure not to have the fan blowing near your workspace. That’s a bad idea since it will only create a mess.

Remember, you want only a gentle flow of air. Regardless of are you using water-based polyurethane or oil based polyurethane, they are toxic so make sure you open as many windows as you can.

3/ How To Remove Old Coating Of Polyurethane

Although it offers a great finish, polyurethane breaks down and after some years, you’ll need to apply a fresh layer.

To remove the old cover you’ll need chemical based stripper.

If you want to use water based stripper that’s a little less toxic keep in mind it takes more time to remove polyurethane.

what is polyurethane for hardwoord floors

Again, open all the windows and use a fan for ventilation. Also, make sure you’re wearing glasses, rubber gloves and vapor respirator.

Since it’s toxic, stripper will damage your furniture and rugs so make sure to remove them in time.

To remove polyurethane on hardwood floors, apply the stripper with a paintbrush. Make sure to allow it to soak for few minutes. The stripper will lift polyurethane coating from the floor.

After the polyurethane is softened and lifted, you want to scrape it off. Best way to do that is with a metal scraper.

Keep in mind that you might have to repeat the process if polyurethane doesn’t come off in first attempt. After you remove the polyurethane coating, you need to sand the floor.

Once you do that you can freshen your hardwood hfloors with a new layer of polyurethane.

4/ How To Apply Polyurethane On Hardwood Floors

Now that you’d prepared your floor you can proceed to apply polyurethane on hardwood floors.

As we previously mentioned, not everyone knows how to apply polyurethane since it’s not an easy task. Nonetheless, if you came this far, you can do it by following our guide.

First Coat

1. First things first, stir the polyurethane. Also, consider pouring some into a paint tray. Starting at the furthest point of your room, apply a thin and even layer of polyurethane. Work back and forth towards the door. Make sure you avoid going over areas you’ve already covered.

2. Keep going until you cover the entire surface.

3. This makes the first coat of polyurethane and you’ll need to allow it to dry for at least 4 to 8 hours.

4. Once it’s dry, you should sand down the coat with 220-grit sandpaper. It’s important to sand in the same direction as the grain of the wood.

5. After you sand the coat, make sure you clean all dust with a rag and mineral spirits.

Second Coat

1. The second coat will require mixing 10 parts polyurethane with 1 part mineral spirits. This is very important as it makes polyurethane thinner.

2. Apply the mixture of polyurethane and mineral spirits the same way you did the first coat.

3. Again, allow it to dry and then repeat the sanding procedure.

4. After that you can apply the third and final coat of diluted polyurethane. Being that is final, this coat doesn’t require sanding.

5. Only thing left is to allow the polyurethane to dry. Therefore, make sure you give it enough time. Let the polyurethane coat dry for at least 24 hours before you walk on it.

6. Also, we suggest you not to add any furniture unless the polyurethane has been drying for at least 72 hours.


Taking care of your hardwood floors is a lot of work but following the right guide helps you a lot. Not everyone knows how to apply polyurethane on hardwood floors but it’s also not a difficult thing to learn.

Why should you pay someone else to do it? More so, do you want to put something so important in someone else’s hands?

No need for that, just read the guide above step by step and remember to keep your windows open.

Do you know how to apply polyurethane on hardwood floors? What is your opinion on polyurethane on hardwood floors?

Have you tried to apply or remove polyurethane by yourself? Please, feel free to comment in the section bellow.

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