How long does it take for stain to dry on hardwood floors


Cure Time vs Dry Time


One of the first things our clients will ask us once we put on the last coat of finish is When can we walk on the floors? The next question that usually follows is, When can we put the rugs and furniture back?

Good questions and ones that need a good answer.

Lets have a look at each closer.

First well start with

Cure Time:

In a nutshell, cure time is the time it takes for all of the solvents or liquid carriers to evaporate from the finish, for the fumes and smell to stop being emitted and for it to fully harden.

This all depends on the type of finish system you choose as well as things like the temperature, airflow and humidity levels.

Below is a guide showing the average cure times for different finishes

Once a floor has fully cured it can be subjected to long-term normal wear and tear without having to worry excessively about damaging it.

But cure time shouldnt be used as a guide for when to move everything back into your home.

You dont need to wait for a floor to cure 100% before you move back in and replace all your furniture and rugs. Your floors will be durable enough to move in way before the fully cured time.

As you can see from the chart above, thats a good thing.

So when is the right time to move back in? Well that brings us to

Dry Time:

Dry time is when you can put your hand to the floor and it wont stick or leave a mark. Its when a finish has dried and cured enough so that it wont sustain any damage from carefully walking over it.

The chart below shows the average dry time for different finishes

Dry time allows us to have access to the floors in-between coats. Thats how we can apply multiple coats in a few days. With water based finishes we can do 2 coats on the same day in some circumstances.

We suggest you ask your refinisher for permission before walking on floors between coats though.

During this time floors are very susceptible to contaminants like outside dirt and oils stuck to the bottom of shoes and feet, to water and other liquids such as dog pee (dont ask!) and to whatever else can be brought in and trampled over them.

If you dont have to go on them until the finish application is completely done, then its definitely better not to.

After the final coat is completed, we strongly suggest that there is no traffic on the floors for a full 24 hours. This will allow the completed finish to dry sufficiently enough to allow walking on it without damaging it.

Which brings us to the next obvious question

When Can Rugs and Furniture be Put Back?

In an ideal world, we would love our clients to wait a week before replacing their furniture, but we know thats not always convenient or even possible.

The commercial grade water-based finish we use is 100% cured after just 3 days. Within 24 hours you can carefully put your furniture back. Its the fastest curing waterborne floor finish we know of. Very handy for floors that need to be back in action very quickly.

The single component water-based finish we use is cured in 5 days. But it is also sufficiently cured and definitely dry enough after 24 hours to have light traffic on it, and to be able to carefully (theres that word again) replace the furniture throughout the house.

The hardwax oil we recommend (Pallmann Magic Oil) is fully cured in 24 hours. It is the fastest natural cured site applied floor finish available.

We strongly recommend you put brand new felt pads on all furniture before they are set in place so as to protect your new investment. The old felt pads that may have been on there before could have picked up dust and small debris during the move that could scratch and damage the new finish.

Be extra careful with rolling and sliding chairs during the cure time too.

As far as area rugs go, we really would like to see a full week pass before theyre put down over newly refinished floors, (unless you go with the commercial grade Pall-X Gold system which is 3 days or Magic Oil which is 24 hours). This will give ample time for the solvents etc. in the finish to evaporate unencumbered and for the floor to cure.

Updated June 2021

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