sanding and polishing floorboards Sydney

How Long Does The Timber Floor Finish Take To Dry?

Well, the short answer is it depends on the type of finish used on your timber floors.

Once the floor is sanded and polished, it takes some time for the timber floors to dry and cure before you can walk on them and start moving your furniture and rugs back. The drying time calculates from the exact time the final coat of finish is applied.

1. Water-based Polyurethane

Water-based polyurethane is among the fastest drying wooden floor finishes today. So, several coatings can be applied within a period of a few hours on the same day, and you could walk on them typically after 24 hours from the application of the final coat. Water-based polyurethane finishes also do not leave any odour, making it convenient and safe for you to move quickly.

Drying Time

Water-based polyurethane finishes take anywhere between 4 to 8 hours to dry completely. You can walk on the floors with your shoes on (but preferably socks) after 24 hours from the last coat of finish applied. However, you must wait for another 24 hours, a total of 48 hours, to move your furniture and rugs inside.

Curing Time

Firstly, what is curing time? Curing time is the time taken for the solvents and liquid carriers present in the finish to evaporate, emitting no fumes or odour. In short, it is the time taken for the finishes to fully adhere to the timber floors, making them hard and durable.

So, when it comes to the water-based polyurethane finishes, it takes anywhere from 7 to 14 days for the floors to cure completely. Though you can walk on the flooring after 24 hours, the floor is still susceptible to scuffing and damage. Dragging your furniture can wear off the freshly applied finishes and damage your timber floors. Therefore, you should never drag your furniture when you move them inside after the 2 days. Lift them and place them at the required spot. It is also best to wait and start using your rugs after the floor has cured completely. Take further caution if you have pets.

2. Oil-based Polyurethane

Oil-based polyurethanes take a little bit longer time to dry than water-based polyurethanes. However, you can walk on them after 24 hours, preferably with just your socks. Wait for one more day to walk with your shoes on.

Drying Time

Oil-based polyurethane finishes take anywhere from 12 to 24 hours or even 48 hours to dry completely. The time between applying a couple of coats also takes more time, so oil-based finishes generally take longer time than water-based.

Curing Time

Oil-based polyurethanes take a full 30 days (one month) to cure properly. Though you can use the floor after they dry, and within 2 to 3 weeks of curing, wait for 30 days as oil-based polyurethanes emit a higher level of VOC.

3. Hard Wax Oils

Hard wax oils penetrate deep inside the wooden pores to enhance and protect timber floors. They take lesser time than oil-based polyurethanes but more time than water-based finishes to dry.

Drying Time

Hard wax oils take an average of 4 to 24 hours to dry. You can walk on them after 24 hours.

Curing Time

Hard wax oils take one week (1 to 7 days) to cure.

Every timber floor is different— so the drying and curing time mentioned above may not exactly match all of them. Some floorings may take more time and may need more attention than the rest. Factors like temperature and humidity also affect the drying and curing time. So, it is best to follow the instructions and guidelines given by your floor sanding and polishing professional.


Contact our team at Abacus Flooring for high-quality professional floor sanding and polishing services in Sydney.