How Long Does it Take for a Wood Floor Finish to Dry?

Getting your floors refinished can be an exciting event. There’s no doubt about it. But, how long does it take for a wood Floor finish to dry?

That’s  one of the most  asked questions during the process , “when can we walk on the floor?” And also, “when can we put furniture back on the floor?”.

Both of which are good questions, that require their own detailed answers, respectively. In order to truly answer this question and give a specific answer, we must first examine each element of the drying phase individually.


Dry time

Dry time is the amount of time that passes until you could press your hand against the floor, and not have to worry about leaving an imprint in the surface. It’s the time when you can walk over the surface of your floor without having to worry about damaging the hardwood floor.

For water-based finishes, the recommended wait time is 4-8 hours. For hard wax oils, this increases to 4-24 hours. Finally, for oil-modified Polyurethane, the surface will take between 12 & 24 hours to dry.  The benefit of the dry time is that it allows us to access our floors in between coats. For example, with water-based finishes, you can complete multiple coats in a single day.

However, you still have to  remain cautious with your floor in these stages. The floors are still very susceptible to External dirts that can be stuck to your shoes, as-well as whatever else can be brought in to the house. As a rule of thumb, it’s probably best not to walk over your floors until the finish application unless you absolutely must.

Drying time of water based polyurethane

Water based polyurethane


Cure Time

The cure time, is simply the amount of time it takes for all of the solvents and liquids to fully vanish from the surface, for the fumes and other smells to stop, as-well as the surface of the floor fully hardening. There are a variety of factors which are involved in the cure time. These include factors such as temperature, as well as the humidity levels of the room.

The average cure time for hard wax oils is between 1 and 7 days, for water-based finishes, this increases to between 7 and 14 days. Finally, for oil-based Polyurethane, the wait time is approximately 30 days. After this cure period, the floor can be subjected to long-term stress & pressure, without having to worry about excessive damage.

When Can I Move Back in?

However, there is no need to wait as long as the above time frames suggest to move back in. The very best time to put furniture back on the floor, is generally, between 3 days and 1 week. However, please speak to your finisher for expert advice first. Whilst every floor is different & some may require special attention, the guidelines given above provide a sound reference guide for you.


Have more common questions answered in our FAQ page