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.
Let’s have a look at each closer.
First we’ll start with…
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 shouldn’t be used as a guide for when to move everything back into your home.
You don’t 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, that’s a good thing 🙂
So when is the right time to move back in? Well that brings us to…
Dry time is when you can put your hand to the floor and it won’t stick or leave a mark. It’s when a finish has dried and cured enough so that it won’t 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. That’s 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 (don’t ask!) and to whatever else can be brought in and trampled over them.
If you don’t have to go on them until the finish application is completely done, then it’s 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…
In an ideal world, we would love our clients to wait a week before replacing their furniture, but… we know that’s not always convenient or even possible.
The most popular finish we use (Pallmann Pall–X 96) is 70 – 80% cured after two days. That’s sufficiently cured and definitely dry enough to have light traffic on it and to be able to carefully (there’s that word again) replace the furniture throughout the house.
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 2 weeks pass before they’re put down over newly refinished floors. This will give ample time for the solvents etc. in the finish to evaporate unencumbered and for the floor to cure.