Refinishing hardwood floors is a great way to restore their natural beauty and protect them from wear and tear. However, there are some important concepts to understand before you start the refinishing process. One of these is the difference between dry time and cure time. Both are essential to achieving a high-quality, long-lasting finish on your hardwood floors.
Dry Time: What Is It and Why Is It Important?
Dry time is the length of time it takes for a finishing product, such as stain or finish, to evaporate and become dry to the touch. This time can vary depending on the type of finish used, the temperature, and the humidity in the room. For example, water-based finishes may dry faster than oil-based finishes. The average dry time for water-based finishes is 2 to 8 hours while other urethanes dry between 4 to 24 hours. It is safe to lightly walk on the floor the day after we put on the last coat of finish however, we recommend waiting at least 24 hours before placing any furniture.
During this period, the finish may feel dry, but it is not yet fully cured. It is important to note that even though a finish may be dry to the touch, it is still vulnerable to damage until it has completely cured. Rushing this process can lead to a variety of issues, including sticking or adhering to furniture, rugs, or other objects, scratching or scuffing, uneven finish, poor durability, and longer curing time.
Cure Time: What Is It and Why Is It Important?
Cure time is the length of time it takes for the finishing product to completely harden and reach its maximum durability. This process can take several days or even weeks, depending on the type of finish and the conditions in the room. The average cure time for urethane finishes is 7 to 28 days while the average cure time for water-based finishes is between 7 and 14 days.
During this time, it is important to avoid placing area rugs on the floor to ensure that the finish is cured. If the finish is covered before it has fully cured, it may result in an uneven finish with areas that appear dull or have a different sheen. Additionally, a finish that has not cured completely may not provide the same level of durability as one that has, leading to premature wear and damage to the floor.
Why Waiting for Both Dry Time and Cure Time is Important
It is crucial to wait for both dry time and cure time to ensure a durable, even finish that will withstand normal wear and tear. Rushing the process can result in damage to the finish and the floor, which can be costly and time-consuming to repair. To avoid this, it is important to follow the manufacturer's instructions for both dry time and cure time.
While waiting for the finish to cure, it is essential to keep the room ventilated and at a consistent temperature and humidity level. This will help to speed up the cure time and ensure that the finish dries evenly.
Understanding the difference between dry time and cure time is crucial when refinishing your hardwood floors and here is the simple distinction: when the solvents, or water, evaporate from the coating, ‘dry’ occurs; when the finish coating has reached its maximum hardness and chemical resistance, ‘cure’ occurs.
Rushing the process can result in damage to the finish and the floor, while waiting for the finish to fully cure will ensure a durable, even finish that will stand the test of time. So be patient, follow the manufacturer's instructions, and enjoy your beautifully refinished hardwood floors for years to come.