How Long Does It Take For Floor Sealant To Dry?

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Are you getting ready to apply floor sealant for the first time? If so, it’s important not to walk on it before the sealant is dry. Several different factors affect floor sealant dry times, and after diligent research, we have outlined the results below.

In most cases, floor sealants take between 36 and 48 hours to dry; however, you can typically walk on the floor without shoes after 24 hours. Different sealants produce different results, such as the nature of wood, type of sealant, and weather conditions.

Don’t stop reading just yet. There is a lot more to learn about floor sealant dry times. Continue reading to find out what factors affect dry time, how long it takes for the smell to leave the room, how to make it dry faster, and much more.

Carpenter staining a hardwood floor. Motion blur on the right hand, How Long Does It Take For Floor Sealant To Dry?

Wood Floor Sealants

When coating wood, you can use either a water-based polyurethane sealant or an oil-based polyurethane sealant. Dry times vary drastically between the two along with some other key differences.

Water-Based Polyurethane

If you want a floor sealant that dries quickly and doesn’t put off a smell, water-based polyurethane is the best choice. It is easy to clean using water, and it won’t yellow over time. After only six hours, you can walk on it without shoes. Before doing so, make sure the floor does not feel sticky and feels dry to the touch.

If you wish to apply another layer, you can sand the floor after 12 hours, applying another coat of polyurethane following sanding. Repeat dry times for the new coat. Allow roughly 48 hours before walking on the floor with shoes or letting pets inside. Do not replace rugs until 30 days after application of sealant.

Check out this water-based polyurethane on Amazon. It can be used on both concrete and wood floors.

Oil-Based Polyurethane

Unlike water-based polyurethane, oil-based sealant will begin to turn yellow over time and does not dry as quickly as water-based sealants. However, it is much more durable than water-based polyurethane. It can withstand more stress from moisture, humidity, extreme temperatures, and normal use, making it ideal for high traffic areas.

It typically takes about 24 hours for an oil-based sealant to dry enough for you to walk on it without shoes. Touch it first to make sure it feels dry and not sticky. If you wish to sand and add an extra coat, do so now. You won’t be able to return your furniture or walk across the area with shoes until approximately four days after the last application. Although the sealant is dry, it won’t be fully cured until roughly 30 days after the final application.

You can purchase oil-based polyurethane on Amazon. 

Concrete Floor Sealant

If you are sealing a concrete floor, the timing will be slightly different from that of wood sealants. According to Foundation Armor, a manufacturer of floor sealants, the type of sealant you use will depend on your flooring needs, and dry times will vary from product to product.

Close up of hand using steel trowel to finish wet concrete floor of polished concrete surface

Silicate Concrete Sealant

Silicate concrete sealant is used to strengthen the surface of your concrete floors. You can generally walk on it, with or without shoes, within two to three hours of applying the final coat. However, the sealant won’t be completely cured until approximately 90 days.

You can find silicate concrete sealant on Amazon.

Silane Siloxane Water Repellent Sealant

Silane siloxane water repellent sealers are typically used on outdoor concrete floors. It helps protect the floor from damage due to rain and ice. It will also aid in preventing mold, mildew, and efflorescence. Though the sealant won’t completely cure until about 36 hours after application, you can walk on the floor, with or without shoes, after just a few hours.

You can find silane siloxane water repellent sealant on Amazon. 

Siliconate Water Repellent Sealant

Siliconate water repellant floor sealant is very similar to silane siloxane sealers, serving the same purpose. You can walk on your concrete floor within just two to three hours after application, and the sealant typically cures within 36 hours.

You can find siliconate water repellent sealants on Amazon. 

Acrylic Concrete Sealant

Acrylic concrete sealers are used for both indoor and outdoor floors, offering a layer of protection with a glossy finish. This type of sealant takes longer to both dry and cure. It can take anywhere from four to 12 hours before you can walk on your floor. For best results, stay off of it for approximately 36 to 48 hours, and do not allow it to get wet.

Check out this acrylic concrete sealant on Amazon.

Epoxy Coating

Epoxy coating can be used on indoor concrete floors to protect and enhance its appearance. Unlike other epoxy products, epoxy floor coating will not harden immediately. You should wait approximately 10 to 12 hours before walking on it. Do not allow it to get wet. It should finish curing within 36 to 48 hours.

You can find epoxy coating on Amazon. 

Urethane Coating

If you have a concrete floor inside your workshop, urethane coating may be a good choice. It is made for indoor concrete floors to protect them from oil, gas, and chemicals. Dry time varies from product to product, but you can typically walk on it within 10 to 12 hours. For best results, do not put it through rigorous use for at least 36 to 48 hours.

You can purchase urethane coating on Amazon. 

Factors That Affect Dry Time

While there are general guidelines to follow when using floor sealants, the dry time can be affected by several different factors which include the following:

  • Nature of Wood
  • Weather Conditions
  • Application
  • Sheen

Nature of Wood

Lumber tree forest falling

Not all woods are created equally. Some woods produce natural chemical substances and oils that can delay the drying process of sealants. However, this delaying effect can sometimes be counteracted by properly sanding the wood. Using more than one coat can also increase the dry time as can debris and ingrained dirt.

Weather Conditions

Before planning a day to apply a sealant to your floor, you should make sure the weather will be nice and sunny. If possible, avoid applying floor sealant during cold or rainy days. These conditions will prolong the drying and curing times of your product. Likewise, dry times can be shortened on hot, sunny days. However, you should avoid humid weather.

Application

Before starting the process, thoroughly read the instructions and have your supplies on-hand and your technique planned. While you can add extra coats, too many will significantly delay dry times and can cause unsightly surface blemishes. Be sure to properly sand the wood before application, and clean off dirt and debris.

Sheen

Not all polyurethane sealants are the same. There are three different sheens from which to choose, and dry times differ for each.

High gloss

This a tough finish, ideal for both indoor and outdoor use. It creates a shiny, thick surface, but it takes longer than other sheens to dry and cure.

Semi-gloss

These finishes don’t take as long to dry as high gloss finishes, but they don’t dry as quickly as satin finishes. It gives an appearance that’s not as shiny as high gloss, but it’s also not dull. This type of sheen is suitable for indoor use.

Satin 

Satin finishes have the fastest drying and curing times and will give your wood a vibrant, glossy shine.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Soon Can You Walk on a Hardwood Floor After Polyurethane?

Feet walking on a Hardwood Floor

After applying polyurethane to your hardwood floor, you should be able to walk on it without shoes within just two to three hours. During this time, do not allow pets on the floor. You can typically walk on it with shoes and replace furniture after about 48 hours for water-based polyurethane and four days for oil-based polyurethane.

How Long Does it Take Polyurethane to Completely Cure?

Though you can generally walk on floors finished with polyurethane sealants within just a few hours, the sealant will not be completely cured until approximately 30 days after application.

How Can I Make Polyurethane Dry Faster?

heater in an empty basement room

As stated above, polyurethane dries faster in hot temperatures. Therefore, you should not use a fan during the drying process. If you are working in an area that is not warm enough, you can use a space heater to accelerate the dry time of your floor sealant. Since too much humidity will extend the dry time of polyurethane, you can also use a dehumidifier in humid areas to accelerate dry time.

You can get a dehumidifier on Amazon. 

How Long Does it Take Polyurethane Smell to Go Away?

When using a water-based polyurethane finish, it will not give off an odor. However, oil-based polyurethane gives off intense fumes. These fumes will likely be strong for about five to seven days, depending on how well the area is ventilated. While most of the smell will be gone within a week, you may continue to notice a faint odor for roughly 30 days while the product is still curing.

If you are worried about toxicity, you can utilize an air purifier to help prevent you and your family from breathing in toxic fumes. You can find air purifiers on Amazon. 

How Long Do You Have to Stay off Concrete After Sealing?

Most concrete sealants allow you to walk on them after just a couple of hours. However, there are a couple types for which you must wait approximately 10 to 12 hours before walking on the floor.

What Happens When Concrete Sealer Gets Wet?

If concrete sealer gets wet before it has had a chance to thoroughly dry, it will not adhere properly. This will cause the sealer to have a white or cloudy appearance instead of a glossy finish.

How Long Should Stain Dry Before Adding Second Coat?

You must wait until the first coat is dry enough before adding an extra layer; otherwise, you will end up with a sticky mess that takes a very long time to dry. When using a water-based sealant, your floor will typically be ready for another coat after 12 hours. This time is extended to 24 hours if you are using an oil-based sealant.

Summary

Carpenter staining a hardwood floor. Motion blur on the right hand, How Long Does It Take For Floor Sealant To Dry?

The first time you do your own floors, you may be a little nervous. It’s not as difficult as you may think, and now you have the knowledge to help you choose the proper floor sealant for your needs. Dry times vary from product to product, but there are ways to decrease drying times. Following these guidelines carefully will help you get back to your regular activities faster.

Our blog has lots more to offer. While you are working on your floors, check out:

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