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 Post subject: Oil Based Polyurethane - How Many Coats?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2006 11:56 pm 
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Joined: Wed Feb 22, 2006 9:47 pm
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I just found this site - it's fantastic - sure wish I'd found it before I started my project. Here are my questions:

I removed the carpeting from a flight of stairs (Cat urine never goes away...) and have installed 3/4" x 2 1/4" White Oak hardwood T&G planks on the stairs (over the existing 1"x12"x38" "subfloor" treads). Basically, the installation is exactly what is found on this site at:

http://www.hardwoodinstaller.com/hardwo ... -prep2.htm

I'm now ready to stain the harwood and apply finish. I already purchased the stain (Minwax Oil-Based #209-Natural), and the Polyurethane (Minwax Oil-Based Fast Drying Clear Satin). I now found this site and have read tons of posts about preferred stains and finishes - eg - Water based -vs- Oil Based, various brands like Traffic, etc.

My first Question is simply this - Is the Minwax Stain and Poly I already purchased OK to use? (I tried it on one stair tread and it seems fine and does seem to match my other adjacent floors.)

What are the pros and cons of the Minwax? Would I be better off using a better product like Traffic? Is Water Based or Oil Based better? The Minwax seems ok, but as much effort as this "weekend" project has required, I want to complete it as well as possible.

Related Questions:

1) I'm sanding the wood with 80 Grit, then 220 Grit paper - is this correct?

2) I'm using 2 coats of stain - seems almost dark enough to match my adjacent flooring - should I try to do this "Water Pop" method I've read about here to make it darker - or is that difficult? If so, do I just wipe on some water with a rag (after sanding is done) then let it dry?

3) How many coats of the Polyurethane do I put on? The Minwax label says 2 or 3, with 3 being suggested for flooring applications. The guy at the store I bought the wood at says "Put as many coats on as possible..." However, I read on this site that additional coats don't really add protection and can just get scratched.

4) I'm applying the stain with a cotton rag. I'm applying the Poly with both a bristle brush and a "Sponge/Foam" brush. Is this ok or should I be using a Lambs Wool applicator?

5) I'm sanding between coats of Poly using Steel Wool (0000 Grade) then using a tack cloth. Is this OK, or should I use 220 grit sandpaper?

Thanks for your help !

Scott

PS:

Imagine my surprise when I almost did the project right without having first found this site. The only thing I didn't do was cut off the stair tread "nose" on the 1x12 subfloor treads - so with the original 1 inch subfloor nose, plus the 1 inch bulnose on my installed planking, I have kind of a double bullnose on each tread - not really a big deal - can't really see it, and I plan on installing the good carpeting remnants back on the risers. I had considered putting in a plywood backing on the risers and painting it white - but I can't due to the "double bullnose" - the carpet riser cover will be at a bit of an angle - but I guess this is all moot since the hardwood is all installed and I am NOT going to remove it to do it properly now - should have found this site sooner. Is this any big deal?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2006 2:07 am 
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Joined: Sat Sep 25, 2004 7:42 pm
Posts: 4375
Location: Antioch, CA. 94509
Let's see, a lot of questions here. That particular Minwax stain and finish are pretty good for hardware store stuff. I've actually used the Minwax poly before and it held up real well in a customer's house. They are also very user friendly so I think they should serve you just fine. All finishes scratch so you'll need to apply an additional coat every so often (once in 3 yrs. or so). The stain you're using is quite light so don't expect it to get very dark. And DO NOT try to water pop the wood on your stairs. That's for pros who are attempting to obtain a certain look. It will cause problems for you. Just make sure you let the stain dry COMPLETELY before you put the poly on it. It could take a day or more. Minwax stains are slow driers. Fans will help. NOT HEATERS!
1) For wood sanding, don't skip that many grades of grit. If you're starting with 80, then finish with 120. That's fine enough. Are you using an orbital sander? Don't sand the wood to 220, it won't accept the stain. 120 is fine enough for stain.
2) Don't water pop. You're sanding the wood too fine. THat's wht the stain isn't taking. Sand to 120 and stain. Let the stain sit on the wood for about 10 minutes before wiping. It should be dark enough if you do that.
3) On stairs, 3 coats are minimum.
4) You're doing fine here. A rag and a brush are correct for stairs.
5) I don't like steel wool. Too messy! I'd opt for 220 or even 300 grit sandpaper to sand between coats. Go easy on the sanding on the coats. You are just trying to smooth the finish and degloss it to receive an additional coat. Get the wood as clean as possible before applying the finish.
The one problem that you may have with the way you built the step is that the overhang (nosings) maybe sticking way out in front of the risers which could be a trip hazard. You may need to fur out those risers to reduce that potential hazard. Good Luck.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2006 2:35 am 
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Gary - Thanks for replying so quickly.

Based on your advise I'm going to stick with the Minwax stain and the poly. Seems to me (based on what I've read here) the Oil based is more durable (than water based) and I don't mind the longer dry times - heck, this project has already exceeded my standard "multiply by 3 time estimate factor."

Your sanding advice makes sense. I'll stop at 120 grit. (Duh - sanding to 220 would inhibit stain absorption wouldn't it....?) I'm using the 80 grit on a Belt Sander, then the finer Grit with a small palm size vibrating sander. I have an Orbital Sander - but the velcro pad is worn down. Would it be better to use the Orbital Sander?

I'll also use 220 Grit paper on the Poly - instead of the Steel Wool - you're right it's messy. (I just thought it would be less abrasive than paper - but your advise makes sense - lightly sand to provide adhesion)

So how many coats of Poly would you put on stairs. I'll definitely do the 3 - would that suffice until recoat time - or would you do 4 or 5 coats now? (Sorry so anal - just want the expert to tell me the right number....)

Yeah, I may have to fur out the risers - didn't think about the tripping hazard. The risers are 7.5 inches and the treads went from 11 inches (on the old carpet installation) to 12 inches deep with the new hardwood. Plus the "double bullnose" overhang now makes the distance from Riser to overhang edge about 2 inches instead of one. If I use the carpet strips against the Risers that may solve the problem by reducing the overhang.

I actually thought about cutting the old nose off of the subfloor, but thought it would be too difficult. Wish I'd found this sight sooner.

Thanks again for your help.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2006 2:39 am 
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Joined: Wed Feb 22, 2006 9:47 pm
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Oh, by the way Gary, Should I use a Sealer after the stain ? - Or is the Polyurethane functioning as a sealer?

thanks
S


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2006 1:42 am 
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Joined: Sat Sep 25, 2004 7:42 pm
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Location: Antioch, CA. 94509
Polyurethane is it's own sealer. 3 coats are adequate and normal but you can do as many as you want to. The orbital sander may make the sanding go easier but your call because your the one doing it. The nosing should not extend more tha 1&1/4" beyond the riser. More than that and it is a trip hazard. Good luck.


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