How to Fix Peeling Polyurethane on Hardwood Floors? [A Step-by-step Guide]

How to Fix Peeling Polyurethane on Hardwood Floors?

If you have hardwood floors with peeling polyurethane, it’s essential to address the issue promptly to restore the beauty and protect the underlying wood. Fortunately, fixing peeling polyurethane on hardwood floors is a manageable task that can be accomplished with the right tools and techniques. 

To fix peeling polyurethane on hardwood floors, remove the peeling areas, sand the surface, clean it thoroughly, apply new polyurethane coats, and allow ample drying time between each coat. Proper surface preparation and using high-quality polyurethane are crucial for a successful repair.

In this guide, we will walk you through the necessary steps, from assessing the damage to maintenance tips to prevent future peeling. With some time and effort, you can revive your hardwood floors and enjoy their natural beauty once again.

10 Steps To Fix Peeling Polyurethane on Hardwood: A Step-by-step Guide

Fixing a damaged polyurethane on the hardwood has to be done carefully to avoid damage to the floor and get the expected result. To achieve that, you must trust the process. 

Here is a step-by-guide explaining the sequence and procedure to fix the layer and floor. 

Step 1: Assessing the Damage

Inspect the peeling areas to determine the extent of the damage. Identify any underlying issues, such as water damage or poor adhesion.

Step 2: Preparing the Work Area

Clear the floor of furniture, rugs, and debris. Ventilate the room by opening windows or using fans. Use plastic sheets or drop cloths to protect adjacent areas from dust and debris.

Step 3: Removing the Peeling Polyurethane

Put on protective gloves and a dust mask. Use a paint scraper or putty knife to gently scrape off the peeling polyurethane. Be careful not to damage the wood surface. If necessary, use a chemical stripper following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 4: Sanding the Surface

Attach medium-grit sandpaper (around 120-grit) to a sanding block or orbital sander. Sand the entire floor surface to remove any remaining polyurethane and smooth out imperfections. Follow the wood grain and avoid applying excessive pressure.

Step 5: Cleaning the Surface

Use a vacuum cleaner or broom to remove sanding dust and debris. Wipe the floor with a damp cloth or mop to ensure it’s clean and free of dust.

Step 6: Applying New Polyurethane

Choose a high-quality polyurethane specifically formulated for hardwood floors. Stir the polyurethane gently to avoid creating bubbles. Apply the first coat using a brush or lambswool applicator, following the manufacturer’s instructions for drying time and coverage.

Step 7: Sanding between Coats

Once the first coat is dry, lightly sand the surface with fine-grit sandpaper (around 220-grit). Wipe away any dust using a damp cloth or tack cloth. This step promotes adhesion and smoothness for subsequent coats.

Step 8: Applying Additional Coats

Apply additional coats of polyurethane following the same process as in Step 6. Generally, two to three coats are recommended for optimal durability and appearance. Sand lightly between coats for a smoother finish.

Step 9: Drying and Curing Time

Allow the final coat of polyurethane to dry completely, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Provide ample drying time before allowing foot traffic or placing furniture on the floor. Keep the room well-ventilated during the drying process.

Step 10: Buffing and Polishing

Once the polyurethane is cured, use a floor buffer or a soft cloth to buff the surface and bring out the shine. Apply a hardwood floor polish, if desired, to enhance the appearance. And it’s time to protect the finish.

Maintenance of Polyurethane on Hardwood Floor: Avoid Peeling

Precaution is better than prevention! Having maintenance concerns can help you avoid polyurethane peeling. In this section, I have some useful tips to help you maintain your hardwood floor topped with polyurethane. 

  • Regular Cleaning: 

Clean your hardwood floors regularly using a hardwood floor cleaner recommended by the manufacturer. Avoid using harsh or abrasive cleaners that can damage the polyurethane finish.

  • Soft Mop or Cloth: 

Use a soft mop or cloth for cleaning to prevent scratching the surface. Avoid using excessive water, as prolonged exposure to moisture can cause the polyurethane to peel.

  • Mats and Rugs: 

Place mats or rugs in high-traffic areas, such as entryways or hallways, to protect the hardwood floor from wear and tear. Make sure the mats have a non-slip backing to prevent them from sliding and causing damage.

  • Furniture Pads: 

Attach felt or rubber pads to the legs of furniture to prevent scratches and dents when moving or rearranging items. Regularly check and replace these pads as needed to ensure they are still intact and provide proper protection.

  • Avoid Excessive Moisture: 

Wipe up any spills or moisture immediately to prevent water damage to the polyurethane finish. Avoid using excessive water or wet mopping the floor, as it can seep into the seams and cause the polyurethane to lift or peel.

  • Gentle Cleaning Techniques: 

When cleaning, avoid using abrasive tools, such as scrub brushes or steel wool, as they can damage the polyurethane. Stick to gentle cleaning techniques and non-abrasive materials.

  • Avoid Wax-based Products: 

Do not use wax-based products or oil-based cleaners on your hardwood floors with a polyurethane finish. These products can leave a residue and interfere with the adhesion of the polyurethane, leading to peeling.

  • Regular Inspections: 

Periodically inspect your hardwood floors for any signs of damage, wear, or peeling polyurethane. Address any issues promptly to prevent further damage.

  • Proper Humidity Levels: 

Maintain appropriate humidity levels in your home, as excessive humidity or dryness can affect the wood and the polyurethane finish. Use a humidifier or dehumidifier as needed to keep the humidity within the recommended range.

  • Professional Maintenance: 

Consider scheduling professional maintenance, such as refinishing or recoating, every few years to refresh the polyurethane finish and keep your hardwood floors in optimal condition.


Can I Fix Small Areas Of Peeling Polyurethane Without Refinishing The Entire Floor?

Yes, it is possible to fix small areas of peeling polyurethane without refinishing the entire floor. You can scrape off the peeling polyurethane, sand the area, and apply a new coat of polyurethane specifically to those affected spots. However, keep in mind that achieving a seamless blend with the existing finish may be challenging.

How Can I Determine If The Polyurethane On My Hardwood Floor Is Peeling?

The easiest way to find the damage is to look for visible signs of peeling, such as flaking, bubbling, or uneven patches on the floor’s surface. If not sure, run your hand over the floor to feel for any rough or lifted areas.

Can I Simply Apply New Polyurethane Over The Peeling Areas?

No, it is essential to remove the peeling polyurethane and properly prepare the surface before applying new coats. Applying new polyurethane over peeling areas will not provide a durable or seamless finish.

What Tools Do I Need To Fix Peeling Polyurethane On Hardwood Floors?

You need quite a number of tools. 

  • Paint scraper or putty knife for removing the peeling polyurethane. 
  • Sanding block or orbital sander with medium and fine-grit sandpaper for sanding the surface. 
  • Vacuum cleaner or broom for cleaning up dust and debris. Brushes or lambswool applicators for applying new polyurethane.

How Many Coats Of Polyurethane Should I Apply To Fix The Peeling Issue?

Generally, two to three coats of polyurethane are recommended for optimal durability and appearance. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for drying time and reapplication.

How Long Does The Polyurethane Need To Dry Between Coats?

Drying times vary depending on the specific polyurethane product. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the recommended drying time. Typically, it can take anywhere from a few hours to a full day.

How Long Does Polyurethane Typically Last On Hardwood Floors Before It Starts To Peel?

The lifespan of polyurethane on hardwood floors can vary depending on various factors, including the quality of the initial application, maintenance practices, and the level of foot traffic the floor experiences. Generally, polyurethane can last anywhere from 5 to 10 years or more before it may begin to show signs of wear and start to peel.


In conclusion, fixing peeling polyurethane on hardwood floors requires a systematic approach to restore the floor’s beauty and durability. By assessing the damage, preparing the work area, removing the peeling polyurethane, sanding the surface, and applying new coats of polyurethane, you can achieve a smooth and seamless finish. 

While the process may take time and effort, addressing peeling polyurethane promptly will ensure that your hardwood floors regain their luster and remain resilient for years to come.

Md Meraj

This is Meraj. I’m the main publisher of this blog. Wood Working Advisor is a blog where I share wood working tips and tricks, reviews, and guides. Stay tuned to get more helpful articles!

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