wood floor finishes

Had a nice hardwood floor in 1930s house, cleaning up for sale. Everyone advised me to have them sanded and refinished. 90% looked fine, 10% was scratched - and I went for it anyway.
Now here's the thing, the original finish was probably some kind of shellac, and that had many decades of floor wax on it - but was mostly covered by throw rugs, actually, which kept it in good shape.
The new finish is I guess the MinWax Dura-something finish, which I gather includes top coats of polyurethane. I asked for semi-gloss top finish. Was that a good idea?
Here's the thing, apparently people seem to believe this kind of floor finish is good on its own, doesn't need first coats or regular coats of floor cleaner/polish/wax, indeed can be cleaned with water-based cleaners.
So, my questions are:
* Is what I wrote above about right for common practice these days?
* Should these floors be given a coat of polish/wax?
* How *does* one best care for these modern finished wood floors?
Thanks.
J.
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satin maybe a better choice. gloss tends to enhance the imperfections
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wrote:

I had my oak floors sanded and coated a couple years ago. No wax, just 3 coats of poly, one on each of 3 days. Wife wanted satin, and that's that. I would have gone semi-gloss. No big deal. We never use any additional coatings on it. Just sweep. Might use a damp rag to wipe up a spill. Looks just like it did 2 years ago. Very good. Can't say how it will hold up long term. We use rugs and runners on the high traffic areas.
--Vic
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Doesn't the Minwax finish container say anything? Also go to their web site and browse around. I personally would not wax, certainly not until the floor had had a few months to harden, The solvent in the wax might tend to soften the finish.
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JRStern wrote:

Yes
No need, it would give zero protection and you already have the sheen you wanted. The poly will retain that sheen unless it gets all scratched up by not sweeping off grit. If it does get all scratched up, you could wax to bring back a uniform sheen but you would need to totally remove the wax to reoat with ant top finish.

1. Sweep regularly so that grit doesn't scratch the finish
2. If necessary, clean spots with slightly damp rag or mop
--

dadiOH
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wrote:

Thanks to everyone.
So, it would strike everyone as just nuts, to refinish a floor today with old-style varnish, just to duplicate the appearance - since polyurethane is just so much tougher and easier?
I hired a pro, he used an industrial belt-sander for the main act, and I think smaller disk sanders between coats, and I guess it all went well.
The poly is just "too good" somehow, seems to lack character or something. Maybe a tinted poly, or does everyone stain the wood and stick with clear poly - which is what I got?
Also, seems to try mondo quick now. I used a lot of polyurethane varnishes back when they were new circa 1970, and they took a while to dry, especially after recoats. Now, the finisher swore we could put the furniture back the next day! I gave it an extra day anyway. I went even that quick because I've seen other (epoxy?) floor finishes (paint) that indeed did dry in just an hour or two, and seemed tough enough to walk on, at least, that quickly. Some progress through science I guess!
J.
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JRStern wrote:

There won't be a nickel's worth of difference in appearance between oil poly and "old style" varnish. Unless the old style had aged a *whole* lot and ambered in the can
BTW, someone suggested using spar varnish, mentioned it was used on boat decks. It isn't. It is used on - ready? - SPARS!. It is used on spars because it is soft and flexible and spars bend. ___________________

Did you use water or oil base poly? Water base dries faster, doesn't color the wood much; oil colors the wood - "character" - and dries slower. Scratches less easily too. Sounds like water is what you got.
Your floor was sanded to bare wood. Did the guy apply at least three coats of poly? Doesn't sound like it.
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dadiOH
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wrote:

Yes there were three coats.
Sanding after the first coat, at least, *looked* like it had got clear down to the bare wood again. I guess he knew what he was doing. I remember much the same effect doing classic wood finishing, the sanding between coats can look like it removes 90% or more of the early coats, but I guess some stays behind as sealant ... maybe. :)
J.
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wrote:

We didn't stain our oak. After it was sanded it was a nice color. Close to Golden Oak I guess. That's what they call the color of some furniture we've bought, and it's close. Probably the old varnish was colored originally or by age. Didn't expect the floor to sand out so light.

I don't even know what poly our guys used. Never looked at their cans to see, and didn't think to ask. They had done other family members' floors and I just trusted their work. I think they said don't walk on it until 6 hours had passed. Maybe 4 hours. Seems it wasn't tacky after 4 hours, which is as early as I touched it. I suspect it was oil-based, mainly because the fumes were strong enough to give me a sore throat after the second coat. Don't really know for sure. Not sure exactly what your issue is with the floor. If it's a clear coating, it can only look as good as the wood allows. Even a clear coating should highlight the grain nicely. You can redo it with a stain, but how a stain takes is also dependant on the wood.
--

Vic

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careful the new synthetics last around 25 years and turn into something awful when they go.
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JRStern wrote:

Dura seal extend is a stain/sealer and the old cans I have say nothing about polyurethane. They do recommend a wax (Dura seal finish) be applied over the stain/sealer coats. I have used these products with excellent results. However, when I went to buy more recently it was very hard to find. Perhaps dura seal has been taken over by miniwax which is pushing its own formulations.
I used polyurethane on the first room I did 35 or 40 years ago; it looked good at first (if you like plastic) but has not held up well. Some day I'll sand it off and go with the dura seal. I do expect that polyurethane has improved over the years; I used a waterborne polyurethane a few years ago on some stairs, as it was recommended as being less slippery, and it has looked good and held up well.
I agree that spar varnish is not suited for anything that is walked on. Decks, if coated, are coated with deck varnish.
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I also note that the tactile finish is much less slippery than I expected of a new finish, I wonder if the wood or previous coats should have been sanded finer, or if it's exactly as it is supposed to be.
J.
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