Minwax® Ultimate Floor Finish Preview

By Todd Fratzel on Painting and Finishing

Professional Quality Urethane That’s Incredibly Easy To Use

Over the years I’ve spent countless hours applying urethane to furniture, floors and trim work. The task was often tedious, extremely odorous and difficult to get professional looking results. Also, because traditional “clear coatings” on wood involved solvent-based polyurethanes cleanup was extremely difficult and messy. I’m happy to say those days are just about over with the development of water based coatings.

I recently had the opportunity to use Minwax® Ultimate Floor Finish on some Southern Yellow Pine stair treads and the results really impressed me. Many of you may not be overly excited about a water based “urethane” but I think you really should give it a shot.

Minwax Ultimate Floor Finish

Ultimate Floor Finish Features

The following are a few of the features and benefits from the Minwax® Ultimate Floor Finish:

  • Provides a crystal clear finish – unlike more traditional urethane products, Ultimate Floor Finish is crystal clear so it won’t change the natural color of wood.
  • Self-Crosslinking technology ensures a tough floor finish.
  • Non-ambering
  • DIY Friendly
  • Recoat in only two hours allowing some projects to be completed in one day
  • Does not require sanding between coats.
  • Exceptional flow and leveling – easy application
  • Lower in odor than traditional solvent-based polyurethanes
  • Cleans up with soap and warm water

Minwax Ultimate Floor Finish - Stair Treads

Using Minwax® Ultimate Floor Finish

As I mentioned earlier I used the Minwax® Ultimate Floor Finish to finish a set of basement stairs in my home. The stair treads are Southern Yellow Pine which is a very light colored wood (great for testing how clear the finish is). Applying the finish to the stairs included the following steps:

  • Light sanding of the wood treads with 220 grit sand paper.
  • Removing dust and debris with a tack cloth.
  • Applying one coat of Minwax® Sanding Sealer.
  • Applying two coats of Minwax® Ultimate Floor Finish (waiting 2 hours between coats).
  • I chose to let the treads sit for a couple of day.
  • Light sanding with 320 grit sand paper.
  • Clean with tack cloth.
  • Apply final coat of Minwax® Ultimate Floor Finish.

Minwax® clearly states you do not have to sand between coats as long as you do not wait longer than 24 hours. I waited longer than that so I chose to sand prior to the final coat. After applying this new product from Minwax® I had the following general thoughts:

  • In the can the product looks like a semi-transparent “milky” liquid. Don’t let that fool you because it does indeed dry crystal clear.
  • The product dries really fast. Within about 30 minutes or so the surface appeared to be dry.
  • I was really impressed with how smooth the surface was each time after applying the finish. The liquid “lays” down really flat and doesn’t show brush marks (I used foam brushes for the application).
  • I couldn’t notice any odor at all from this product.
  • Cleanup is as easy as rinsing your tools and hands in hot soapy water.

Minwax Ultimate Floor Finish - Milky Appearance

Overall Impression of Minwax® Ultimate Floor Finish

I am totally a believer in water based urethane products now. The Minwax® Ultimate Floor Finish is really easy to apply, dries super fast, doesn’t smell, and it’s very easy to clean up. The finish looks amazing and so far it’s holding up very well with no signs of scratches or blemishes. This is definitely a product I’d recommend for both Professionals and DIY’ers.

About the author

Todd Fratzel

I'm full time builder for a large construction company in New Hampshire. I run their design-build division that specializes in custom homes, commercial design-build projects and sub-divisions. I'm also a licensed civil and structural engineer with extensive experience in civil and structural design and home construction. My hope is that I can share my experience in the home construction, home improvement and home renovation profession with other builders and home owners. I'm also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Tool Box Buzz. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, suggestions or you'd like to inquire about advertising on this site.

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  1. Jeff Williams says:

    Looks great! Basement stairs never looked so good.

  2. John Salata says:

    Is this the same product as
    Minwax 16666 Water-Based Polyurethane For Floors?

  3. Carla says:

    I was wondering though – we have oak stairs in our house which were already stained and there is some clear finish over top. Also, as they curve, there is a kind of ledge in the corner halfway up on which you can put some statement décor. It has a much thicker layer of clear finish.

    I’m wondering if this product would work to refinish/touch up the stairs (which are wearing faster than the ledge, of course), railing, etc. I’m concerned that they used oil-based – I presume I cannot use water-based over top then.

    What do you suggest?
    My staining projects usually involve either untreated wood or something I’ve stripped and sanded, so I’m hoping I don’t have to strip the stairs to just touch up the top coating.

  4. Samantha says:

    I was wondering how long ago you completed this project and how the stairs are holding up. So many people say that water based urethanes don’t last as long so I wanted to see how your experience has been.

  5. Ev says:

    Did you find that this finish brought out the grain?

    • Todd Fratzel says:

      It has a very natural look to it. I used it on Yellow Pine and it highlighted the grain nicely.

  6. James says:

    Thanks for posting your experience with this product. I was debating if I should use it and your article convinced me to give it a try, I am happy with the results.

    • Todd Fratzel says:

      James – I was pleasantly surprised as well…so far the stairs I did it with are holding up great!

  7. Michael Kirkpatrick says:

    What kind of brush did you use?

  8. Laura Manns says:

    Minwax recommends waiting 24 hours for light foot traffic and 7 days for heavy traffic and rugs. We just completed 3 coats of the floor finish in our new home. How long should we wait to move in?

  9. Trace says:

    Is it ok to use it over dark walnut stain? I keep seeing it stated that it’s best to use over light or natural color floors?

  10. Sarah says:

    Thanks for your preview! We have old oak floors and I want to paint them (don’t be mad) and then “distress” them. Do you think this seal would work on top of paint? Acrylic or oil based paint? THANK YOU

  11. Suzanne says:

    Thoughts on using this product on a dining room table top? I have used this on stairs and love the finish. Durable enough for a table?

  12. Elaine Kell says:

    Can the Minwax ultimate floor finish be sanded before 24 hours if brush strokes or tacky areas are seen.

  13. Elizabeth says:

    I just used this product on my stairs. I stained them a dark gray. After the 1st coat, I noticed small cracks on some steps and not on others. Also, in some areas it had a cloudy hue. I followed all of the directions to a tee, my stairs were completely dry prior to staining and I waited 24 hours before putting the ultimate floor finish (satin) on them after I stained them. I’m not sure how to fix this! I’d appreciate any advice. I’m afraid to put on a second coat.

  14. Cheri says:

    Want to use it on support beams in my home & pillars/post will it stay on surface or sag ?

  15. Mark Hurst says:

    Just finished a second coat on an old oak floor which I sanded to the bare wood. First vacuumed everything up with a shopvac, then with a regular vacuum, and then went over every inch with tack cloth. I bought two gallons and one gallon covered two coats with a little left over. It doesn’t come in quarts, so I’m wondering how durable it would be with only two coats? It LOOKS great! Very pleased with the outcome. The point is, if I don’t have to open the 2nd gallon to use only a small amount for a third coat, It would be nice to return it for the hundred bucks. :-)

  16. Rob says:

    Thanks Todd!

    I just painted my floors with water based paint and intend to put this product as a top coat. My paint needs 24 hours between coats, but a week to fully cure. Since they are both water based do I need to wait a week for the paint to fully cure before applying this top coat? I don’t want to jump the gun and prevent the paint from fully curing… but I don’t want to wait a week if it’s not necessary. Thanks!

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