Shining a Light on Uneven Sheen

  • Blogs
  • Hardwood Floor Care Tips and Recommendations
  • Why Basic Coatings?
Return to Blog Return to News
May 20, 2021

The application of the final finish coat should be the last step in achieving stunning hardwood floors, but what if the sheen is not consistent? A hardwood floor can appear to have uneven sheen and gloss levels across the surface immediately or long after the final coat dries. This could be related to the finish itself, application errors, and/or other issues.



There are several factors to be aware of before applying any finish. The finish should not be expired and be stored at the recommended temperature and environment. Check to make sure all the gallons being used are the same sheen, preferably with the same batch codes.  Regardless of sheen level, make sure you mix and disperse the products thoroughly per manufacturer’s directions Also, note that changing sheens between coats can affect the consistency of the final sheen.

If the finish needs additives, like dry-time extenders, catalyst, etc., only use those recommended by the manufacturer in the specified amounts. 


Check average temperature at the job site. High temperatures and excessive air movement can dry the finish too quickly and possibly result in uneven flow and inconsistent leveling/sheen on the wood floor. Cooler temperatures will affect the finish as well. To learn more about how temperature can affect the finish drying process, click here.

In preparation for application, make sure the applicator has not been contaminated and that the finish is properly mixed. Be certain that any previously applied coat is completely dry to avoid trapping solvents that create an uneven sheen level. After the finish has been properly mixed, apply the finish with an even amount of pressure. Different pressures can lead to thickness inconsistencies across a floor, leaving visible sheen variations.

For jobs that require more than 1 gallon of finish, it is a best practice to correctly bundle and batch the finish by pouring all of it into a larger container. Sheen can vary from container to container. By combining them into 1, it will help ensure a more consistent sheen level.


The following issues can also cause uneven sheen and levels of gloss.

  • Heavy foot traffic
  • Uneven sanding
  • Natural characteristics of the wood used
  • Natural oils from exotic wood that influence the drying process
  • Cracks or voids that were left unfilled
  • Optical illusions from lighting, height, elevation, etc.

Prevention and Resolution

To prevent an uneven gloss, consider the job site and its conditions before starting. Evaluate any factors that could affect the drying of the finish. Research the wood species being used to be aware of any characteristics that could influence the final result.

If the floor appears to have an uneven sheen and gloss level, double-check that all cleaning procedures are being followed and use cleaning products recommended by the manufacturer. For a quick and easy solution, TyKote® Recoat Bonding Agent may be applied with another coat of finish on top to correct any inconsistencies. TyKote produces zero dust and does not require the use of heavy equipment or intensive labor for application. It can be applied to almost all hardwood flooring and only takes half a day to complete a refinish job. For more information about the TyKote Dust-Free Refinishing System, click here.

As another solution, a contractor utilized HyperTone™ Stains to tint finish and resolve a color and sheen variance in a home. Read more here.

For older floors that appear to have lost their sheen, sunlight exposure may be to blame. Overexposure to the sun can affect the look of your floors, including the sheen level. Read more here to learn how to protect your floors from sun exposure.

If you have questions about how to prevent or fix uneven levels of sheen and gloss, please click here to fill out the online form, and your Basic Coatings Regional Manager will reach out to you.

Source: NWFA’s “Problems, Causes, and Cures 2018”

Photo courtesy of NWFA’s Problems, Causes, and Cures (3rd Edition, 2018).