I didn’t know that some finish yellows

Q: I painted my BR floor and put polyurethane on it. It yellowed. I didn’t know that some finish yellows, what can I do?

A: Virtually all solvent based finishes will amber to some degree. I think I would “screen” the heck out of the polyurethane to remove as much as possible and give it another coat of paint. You would have to use a water borne poly if that is the route you want to go but I would do some testing on a spare piece of painted wood to make sure it is going to stick.

Follow-up Q: I am a novice. What is screening? Thanks so much for the quick reply.

A: Screening is polishing the floor with (of course) a polisher and an abrasive screen which comes in various grits. Or you could rub the entire floor down on hands and knees with fine sandpaper, or use either an orbital or random orbit sander if a polisher is not available.

Yellowing

Q: Regarding urethane for hardwood floors, I just finished reading your oil vs. water text. I think I am partial to oil. I have new, beautiful, truly brown walnut flooring that I do not want to yellow. I cannot get my hands on the Circa 1850 Bowling Alley urethane. Do you think that the yellowing or amber-color that happens with oil-based is from the yellow in the wood? If so, I should be OK because this wood has no yellow in it. Or, do you think that the urethane itself is what ambers? If that’s the case I might have to go with the water-based, which I do not want to do.

A: The finish itself ambers. Fabulon also uses the safflower resin which resists yellowing. Walnut will darken on it’s own and personally I prefer the rich colours from an oil based finish over the water borne. To use water borne on this wood, you may have to use a sealer first because of the oils seeping from the wood. A lot of guys on a list I belong to are from the U.S. and use a universal sealer called Waterlox, which I believe is a de waxed shellac. Never used it myself but it needs to be applied in thin coats.

Matching darker, older floors with bright new floors

Q: After sanding down our 50-yr. old hardwood, we put 3 coats of poly on them and they turned out great. However, we decided we wanted to put the same hardwood in our kitchen. So we bought unfinished white oak, sanded it after installing, and then put 1 coat of poly on. It does not match the colour of the old hardwood which is much more orange. Some people have said to put a 3-6 inch “border” in between the 2 such as staining a strip a darker colour in order to separate the differences. Would you recommend trying to stain the new wood a completely different colour?

A: Wood gets darker with age so the 50 year old oak would be expected to be different. You might elect to stain the new floor, but don’t expect a perfect match. Perhaps better to stain the old and new floors together. Your flooring contractor can best advise you and perhaps make some stain samples.

Similar Q: After finishing [polyurethane] the floor we noticed that the new oak hardwood flooring is lighter than the old oak flooring. How can we make them match?

A: This is absolutely normal and to be expected. Give it 30-50 years to age. Sorry but it takes time. Otherwise, stain all the floors. Any difference then would be slight.

Yellow and “oranging” of wood

Q: I recently bought a 115 year-old house, remodelled within past 10 years, with wall to wall carpet. I ripped up the carpet on the second floor, with the intention on re-carpeting, only to find old 2 3/8″ wide strip pine floors in relatively decent condition. The carpet caused some yellow and oranging of the wood. I am now faced with needing to sand and stain (or not) these floors. This room is the TV room with floor to ceiling windows and access to the deck, so it gets sun and traffic. My hope is to put area rugs in the sitting area and at the door going outside. My questions are: Is sanding the best approach to this style pine floor? Also, is it better to leave the pine natural or attempt to stain? (I realised staining pine is a careful chore). My primary concerns are best looks for the resale of the house and durability in a high traffic and constantly sunlit room. I will be using a professional for this work.

A: Using a professional. I would say that is a wise choice. Assuming these pine floors are original with the house, or very old, I would sand and finish natural, without staining. You will need at least 3 coats of floor finish. Old pine can exhibit plenty of it’s own warm colouration on it’s own, and unless it has water stains on it, I would not try to hide the natural colour. As you say, pine is not the easiest wood to stain.

Are you sure this orange discolouration you mention is not actually paint? You are giving me horrible flash backs here.:)

Durability has less to do with the pine itself, and more to do with using good quality finishes. Of course it is a soft wood and does easily dent. There is no way to avoid that possibility, except trying to be careful.

How to prevent yellowing of wood floor

Q: What would happen if I wanted to sand all the way to bare wood, and then cover with a water base? Would I get some yellowing? How to prevent yellowing?

A: If you remove all the old finish, you won’t have yellowing. Mind you, some of the better oil based finishes also contain a resin made from safflower that resists yellowing. They give a richer look than water based, but don’t go as ghastly dark as the cheaper finishes tend to do.