It's time to apply a finish to your installed hardwood flooring. First, make sure that the floor surface is absolutely clean. You don’t want to seal sawdust into your new floor finish.
Finish for wood flooring is similar to finish for other wood materials. It can be stained and left or it can be sealed. Stains and sealers are spread with a brush or applicator depending on the finish manufacturer’s recommendations. Water-based finishes can be applied with synthetic-bristle or foam paintbrushes. Oil-based finishes typically require a lamb’s wool applicator. Use a small brush to apply finish around the edges of the floor. Us a long-handled applicator to apply penetrating sealer, applying the finish in the same direction as the boards. Make sure you don’t paint yourself into a corner.
Decorative borders or patterns can be applied to hardwood floors with stencils (available at paint and decorating stores) and masking tape. Make sure the stencils or tape are securely adhered to the floor surface to prevent the final color from bleeding beyond that area treated. One popular method of stenciling is to use a clear or light-colored penetrating stain over the entire floor, then, once dry, apply the stencil or tape followed by a darker stain or sealer.
What’s left? You’ll also need to install trim around the wall perimeter and transitions into rooms that have other floor coverings.
Ask your flooring material supplier to recommend the best finish for your new hardwood floor. Penetrating stains and sealers go into the wood pores and wear off only as the wood does. Surface finishes such as urethanes remain on top of the wood.