Black Walnut Hardwood Floor Finishes


I am in the process of milling a black walnut floor for a big ticket room remodel. In the past I have used Minwax fast dry oil poly with decent results. My own floors are finished this way and have no wear in over a year. This walnut, however is going to go in a family room and will likely see more traffic than my bedrooms and hallway. Finally, the QUESTION. I am interested in finding a quality professional finish to protect “my” walnut floor, and my reputation with the client. So, what is there ? Bear in mind I have done a good bit of floor finishing with poly over ther years, and have a lot of experience in spraying lacquers and conversion varishes. I would like to know about miosture cured poly, and it’s application.



Dear Dan

Let’s review your choices for this lovely wood. Most of the catalyzed water based finishes like Street Shoe and Traffic are out. This dark wood will take on a sickly pale tone with these really durable but rather opaque finishes. Then there are the solvent based conversion varnishes. first the Swedish acid cured finishes, which emit formaldehyde gas for 90 days after application. These are clear and very durable finishes, but unless you inform your client of the health risks involved, this stuff is out also.

That all said, then there is the very durable Moisture Cured Poly. Besides the fact that this finish has up to 7% toluene ( the stuff that been killing glue sniffers for years) this finish is also not suitable in your case. It’s because of it’s adhesive nature. It can literally glue new boards together and they will crack themselves as they move seasonally. This is called panelizing, when ten boards will pull and eleventh one in half. It happened to one of my floors, so I’ll never use this stuff again. Oh, that’s why when doing Street Shoe or Traffic on other floor, you should always use two coats of a weaker acrylic sealer.

So that leaves lacquer finish,which after reading my article in the Floored News about Lacquer Finish Floor Fires, I don’t think so. And then there is the really weak kneed oil/varnishes, which are not meant for floor use.

So, guess what, That finally leaves the Oil Modified Poly. But the Minwax brand you have been using, I’m not too fond of. Try the Fabulon brand professional oil modified heavy duty floor finish super satin/clear, it’s simply the best.

I have written a long article on how best to apply this finish, without the bubbles or pits associated with this stuff. The satin poly will make this walnut floor look stunning if you apply it correctly. It’s not rocket science, but I have my secrets to a silky smooth satin finish.

As always your Most humble servant, Joseph, the Wood Floor Doctor.