Once your new floors are installed, you’ll have two questions: “When can I walk on my new floors?” and “When can I move my rugs and furniture back into the room?”  While the answers to these questions may vary depending on your specific circumstances, cure time and dry time provide some applicable guidance.

During curing time, a few essential processes take place.  Your flooring’s finish hardens, all the solvents evaporate, and, most important, the strong fumes cease.  The length of your curing process depends on humidity levels in your environment, the indoor temperature, and the airflow.  Generally speaking, the following estimates apply to most finishes:

  • Hard wax oils: 1-7 days 
  • Water-based finishes: 7-14 days
  • Oil-modified polyurethane: 30 days

After your curing time is complete, you can subject your flooring to normal wear and tear without fearing any excessive damage.  It’s back to business as usual.  But curing time isn’t the only post-installation metric you should be concerned with.  After all, if you wait for the curing process to complete, it could take up to one month before you move all your furniture and rugs back into the room in question.

Luckily, drying time allows you to move your belongings back into the room within a reasonable period of time.

Drying time is exactly what it sounds like.  Once dry time is complete, you’ll be able to place your hand directly on the floor without leaving any marks or pulling off any finish on your palm.  This is the period in which your floor has dried completely and cured just enough to avoid damage from walking—careful walking, that is.  Average dry times are as follows:

  • Hard wax oils: 4-24 hours 
  • Water-based finishes: 4-8 house
  • Oil-modified polyurethane: 12-24 hours

Drying time is what gives your installers the flexibility to access your floors in between coats.  We can get in and out of the room for multiple coats in a few days’ time without fear of any damage.  We can even apply 2 coats in a single day in some cases.  If you plan to walk on your floors during this time, check with your refinisher first.

Though your floors are dry during this time, they can still be ruined by dirt and oils on the bottom of your shoes and feet.  Water, and essentially all liquids, can also damage your new floors.  Thus, it’s best to wait until all coats have been applied and dried before walking through the room.

After that final coat, your floors should be off-limits for 24 hours.  This is the only way to avoid any damage.  Also, if you can swing it, hold off 3-7 days before moving furniture back into the room.  However, we understand this isn’t always ideal, and you need to get your furniture back into the room as soon as possible.  If that’s the case, wait at least 2 days.  Popular finishes, like Pallmann Pall-X 96, can handle light traffic and very cautious furniture placement after 48 hours.

But, to be 100% certain you’ll avoid damage, replace the felt pads on the bottom of all your furniture.  The old pads have accumulated pet hair, dirt, and dust—all contaminants that are sure to scratch your floors.  Pay extra attention to any pieces that need to be rolled or slid into place.

Though furniture goes back into the room after 2 days, area rugs should stay out for about 2 weeks.  If they’re placed on the flooring too soon, they can impede the curing process, trapping solvents in the wood.

When it comes to restoring order in your home after your flooring installation, use drying time and curing time to drive your decoration decisions.