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bud16415 09-24-2013 08:01 AM

I should have asked.
After spending a weekend sanding about 600 sq. ft. of old floors half painted that had nasty old carpet over and half bare wood with even nastier old carpet over and finding 100 year old chestnut below was a really nice surprise. The plan was never to have the look of new hardwood there were 1000ís of staples to remove and something like 36 holes where wires and cables came up that we turned plugs to fit and glued in. nicks and such that add to the character of an old floor. Started sanding on the paint with 20 grit and working our way down finer and finer, then filling some of the blemishes and final sanding. Things looked really nice I tested the floor a few places with a damp rag to see how the grain would come out with finish. I was very tempted to put some Danish oil on it and wax it and call it done. But the more we talked it really needed a bit more protection than that. I read up a little on finishes and have used the old type varnish many times in the past and everything I read said the water based poly was the way to go both in smell, drying time and durability. I used it a few years ago on a counter top and hand brushed a dozen coats on it over a day or two and it wore like iron. So thatís what I bought. Went to my local center and talked to the ďexpertĒ after watching several on line vids of guys slamming out a room in 5 minutes using a squeegee like tool. I went with the ZAR product and asked the ďexpertĒ if this is the milky white stuff that dries clear and doesnít add a yellow cast like varnish does. He said thatís the stuff. I then asked him what is the best tool to get the stuff on a floor and he said no question itís these and showed me some very thin and dense foam rollers. I said well I just watched videos that show it being poured on and wiped around and should I be using one of them. He said they didnít even sell such a thing and has sold many of these rollers and thatís what he recommends. So I look it over and say ok. I read the can and it says do not roll on with nappy roller and to use a foam applicator and not a brush. I thought that odd as the counter I did I brushed on all those layers and it came out like glass but I have foam and itís a roller so who the heck knows. Letís try it out.

Starting in the less visible room and stirring the stuff for quite a while I gave it a try. And his information seemed to be spot on. It rolled on effortless went on like milk and by the time I got across the room the first half was clearing up and looked amazing and even the semi-gloss sheen was appearing and just what I wanted. I then brush painted it on in a small pantry that has a lot to cut in and is too small to work with the pole and roller and went on to the main living room and it went just as smoothly as the first room. Finished up and read the can again saying should be dry to the touch in a couple hours light sand, clean and give second coat etc. same thing as I did on the counter and it looked like I had enough material to do 3 coats was my plan. When I inspected the floor it looked beautiful. Only thing I saw was a couple places when the finish brought out the grain it also brought out some old staining of the wood from maybe spills or pets or something but really looked amazing I thought given 100 years of wear. I rigged my drywall sander to take a softer backer pad like a very soft scotch brite pad and then put a fine sand paper over that. Worked well went over all the rooms and felt very smooth to the touch. Second coat same as the first only noticed because the floor was now so smooth it didnít have the tooth for the foam roller to roll effortless over the floor. It required just a little bit more pressure. Second coat went on fairly good and I again hand brushed the pantry room. This time when it dried there were a few places that dried with a whitish cast kind of a cross between orange peel and some air bubbles. It really wasnít bad and I took just a tad more time sanding those places and when testing the white went away when recovered with even water. So I figured the third coat would blend them in fine. Again waited what I thought was more than enough time before doing that sanding cleaned everything good and went at the final coat. It was even slicker to roll on and hard to tell the difference between the white the material is and if it had any foam in it from rolling did the whole floor and brushed the pantry again. As a point of note I actually feel I was putting on thicker coats with the brush in that room. When the final coat dried I had a super lot of the white haze everywhere except the pantry room. So without a doubt the hard foam roller was the culprit. I hadnít thought thru it yet at that point and had hopes that an overnight miracle might occur and I would wake to a crystal clear finish. No such luck. I spent half the day debating what to do on Sunday and seeing the room (pantry) I didnít really care about look the best I decided to go back to the building center and kill the old guy that recommended that foam roller. OK just kidding I did feel like doing that but kept the urge under control. My pole sander wasnít adequate to sand away the smoke like it did after the second coat. I grabbed my mouse sander and 180 paper and tried an experiment on a 6 x 12 area in the less important room in the area that had the most clouds. Took about a hour hand sanding and several sand paper pads and the floor had a white smooth surface. I cleaned it with mineral spirits and sucked the rest up I then cleaned with soapy water and then just a water wipe being careful to not soak anything. When the surface was wet it looked clear and perfect so my hope was a brush coating would keep that look. I redid that area with the brush and let it dry and Iím back to good again so I guess I have a plan for tonight for the rest of the bad spots in the main room.

I hope my story may help someone else and if I had it to do again it would be get out the knee pads and brush or find a suitable pad and pole applicator. The big difference I see with the water based poly is it skins over so fast less than 10 minutes where oil products take hours and hours. I think trapped air is going to stay trapped. That first coat had the wood below to draw down into and I think thatís why the first coat went on so perfect along with the roller was working more like a squeegee because the wood wasnít as slippery as the poly on the second and third coat. I think I will be able to save it but I wish I would have asked the questions first and did a lot more research rather than thinking I understood it along with getting some bad advice from the ďexpertĒ.

bud16415 09-25-2013 06:03 AM

Yesterday at lunch I stopped back at Value Home Center where I got the bad advice on the roller method of applying the water based poly and asked to talk to the boss. I explained what had happened and that they sell a product and do not offer a proper applicator to go along with it and their sales people shouldn’t be recommending something only because it’s all they have to offer or its ok to just say “I don’t know” When they don’t know. He was quite sympathetic to my problem and said they would talk about it to the sales force and offered nothing more that he could do. I really didn’t expect more than that. I later commented on their web site as to the same thing and did receive a call last night that I missed wanting to talk about the mix up. I have a bit of mixed feelings about what part retail plays beyond selling me a product. The building centers are moving more and more into providing information as a way to sell product and if that’s their business model then they should have solid information to provide.

Well last night I tackled the living room with much more area to have to resurface and blend out the clouds in the finish. I went at the areas as I did the night before with the mouse sander and this floor had a combination of cloudiness and some light orange peel both contributing to the visual problem in the vanish. It’s quite hard taking a palm sander to an otherwise glossy clear finish and trusting that you are not doing more damage than good. It’s wise to convince yourself on a small sample that when you clean away the dust and wet the surface it once again will be clear. I was using 180 grit pads and it seemed to work well to do that. I put in about 3 hours sanding and another hour cleaning and re-sanding. Cleaning with water will show you the surface as it will look after re-applying the poly. But as soon as the water dries you see the dull sanded surface, so it was a little tough keeping track of all the spots that had to be reworked. Start at one side and worked a few boards at a time across the room.

After a final clean I decided to try out my new applicator in the smaller room first and if it didn’t work I would brush the whole job as I knew that worked. The applicator I bought at Home Depot and it’s a pad about 4 x 10 inches and is sold as a deck painting pad. It has a handle and also is threaded to take an extension broom handle. The handle swivels and is spring loaded to return back to a normal angle of about 45 degrees. The pad is a sponge to hold the product but the application surface is a fine mohair paint pad type surface. I figured for $10 it was the only thing I saw that looked like it might work so why not give it a try.

This pad thing working out of a roller pan was IMHO the perfect applicator for water based poly of this type. It held enough to make a swath about a foot wide across a 12 foot room it let me get right to the wall and it spread out the product like a sheet of glass. Perfect for keeping a wet edge and not leaving a line where passes overlapped. And quite fast. It would drip a little if I wasn’t careful to wipe it on the roller area of the tray and I found that after loading it with paint I could turn it over as I moved to where I was working and never spill a drip. That is pretty important because those drips can get on your feet and cause havoc. I worked my way out the door and looking across the room I could tell the whole floor glistened clear a sign the product went on thin and even. It took about 2 hours to dry and looked a heck of a lot better than it did. The worst areas still show just a hint of cloud and I’m hoping to just spot finish that area tonight after a very light sanding. Even if I didn’t I could live with the results I have now.

One of the problems with DIY is you don’t do each task enough to really learn what you are doing till the end. The last floor I finished was many years ago and working with oil based products. So I hope my learning curve might help someone else. And don’t be afraid to ask and don’t believe everything you are told.

oldognewtrick 09-25-2013 06:27 AM

Bud, you made a great statement with, you don't do a task enough to really learn something new till the task is complete.

Most of the time when I need information I'll go to the MFG's website and look for instructions there. If I can't find an answer they usually have an 800 number or teck e-mail. Most of the info I've ever gotten from the guy at the big box store I take with a grain of salt.

Glad it's all working out for you, cause I know exactly the feeling you had when you saw the hazing.

Drywallinfo 09-25-2013 06:31 AM

Once at a "big box" store the "expert" gave me a square vent duct. Trouble is, my fan that I also bought had a round outlet! Same "expert" gave my wife a bum steer another time, sending her home with hardwood floor poly that was actually light grade poly meant for furniture, not floors. So I am knocking myself out trying to finish the floors and my wife has to make another 1 1/2 hour round trip to get the right product.

bud16415 09-25-2013 08:45 AM

Totally agree oldog. I normally do use the internet and manufacture sites. I even watched an amazing video for 20 minutes of a pro doing a poly job with a special wide pro looking applicator. I read a dozen comparisons between oil and water based products and staining or not. The kicker was standing in the store with the paint guy I read the can and it clearly said no roller. When he suggested the hard foam roller I asked well that’s a roller? And what else do people use that roller for and the answer was these we just sell for varnish and looking at the thing I couldn’t see it working for paint so you assume he knew what he was talking about. I even asked about don’t you have this lamb’s wool applicator they say to use on the can?

Live and learn.

The funny thing is the pad applicator I found that worked so well last night was sold in with the deck paints and was to be used for outside deck painting. A far cry from what I was doing. The guy at the depot I also asked about interior floor applicators and he didn’t have much to offer and when I started explaining what I saw on line looked like he took me over to this other area and showed me that tool. He let me take it just the opposite with a warning that it’s for deck painting not varnish and use at my own risk.

I have been working on the house a lot with my girlfriends grandfather an old builder he’s 82 and still going strong. He had done lots of wood working and some floor finishing and was all excited about trying water based product because in his day you had to wait a day between coats and the fumes would kill you if you tried to live there. After it got all hazy he wasn’t as excited and said I’m going home I don’t want to see a grown man cry. I’m looking forward to him seeing I fixed it I think he figured it was a hopeless cause.

bud16415 10-02-2013 05:45 AM

Well it’s clear if you write to the comment block of these box stores someone reads them. At least the people at value home center. After explaining my mix up a couple times to corporate people. I received a call from a ZAR application specialist. By that time I had figured out for the most part what I did wrong and we had a nice long talk about stores, sales people and what they put on the can as directions.
I found out that the companies that sell these products would love having the applicators and such displayed along with their products along with instructions etc. they have to buy the shelf place and location in the store for their products. So a company that sells poly doesn’t sell wool applicators they are more generic so they get stuck in some hardware section of the store. (Example)Just like drywall is on one end of the store and mud the other, then screws are god knows where and drywall tools another place and the corner trim is in with the siding unless it’s the metal kind and then it might be with fence posts or something, unless it’s on sale and then the company pays extra to move it up front where you would never look until you are checking out. This method works because I bought a Honeywell thermostat on my way out the other day because I needed it but also because I had time inline to look at it and bought it like a zombie without looking at others.

After all the corporate help they must have contacted the local store because they started calling me as well and asked me to drop by the store again. The head guy this time told me he had reviewed all this with his people and they are up on what to recommend in the future and I said ok thanks. He then refunded me the cost of the third gallon of material I wouldn’t have had to buy and threw in a $10 gift card. So it amounted to about $65 I wasn’t expecting and as he put it he hopes I will continue to shop with them. It wasn’t a lot but it was a nice gesture I didn’t expect.

What was kind of amazing is I bought all this stuff over a couple week and in two different stores 50 miles apart and with cash. He was able to tell what I bought and the time even at the store 50 miles away just by searching on the number of the poly I guess. Crazy computers keep track of everything.

oldognewtrick 10-02-2013 05:55 AM

Well, seems all's well that ends well.

nealtw 10-02-2013 02:33 PM

When you find the right guy to complain to in most stores they are eager to help solve problems. I'm always surprized that he doen't have a more central location in the store and the service counter people never know who to call. Good for that store for fixing this as best they can. And good for you for chasing it down.

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