Cannot remove all the dark stain

Q: I sanded down old oak hardwood floors. Applied varathane, waterbased stain. It was way too dark, so I decided to resand the floor. But I cannot remove all the previous stain. What can I do to get it all off?

A: Most of the stain should come off fairly easily. It probably would be impossible to remove all stain from the heavy grain, but that would be irrelevant when staining again. I’m only talking trace amounts. 50 Grit should be more than course enough to remove the stain. I might even try 60 grit.

Peroxide treated spots staining differently

Q: I just finished sanding my wood floors, went great. I had some dog urine spots that I cleaned up with peroxide. They lightened nicely over a few treatments.

Well I just stained it and all these spots of a different color are showing where the peroxide was.

What do I do now?

A: You could try sanding those spots to clean wood and wet the spots with water. Or you might try a bit more stain just on those spots. I’ve never heard of trying peroxide for this.

Which DuraSeal stain matches Gunstock color?

Q: I have a dining room with what I believe is Bruce prefinished hardwood flooring. I have gotten two estimates on having the flooring sanded down to bare wood and completely finished. I would like to match the hardwood that is installed in my kitchen as closely as possible. The kitchen hardwood is the 2 1/4″ Gunstock stain. However, the refinishers use DuraSeal.

Is there a way to tell which DuraSeal color is actually the Gunstock color? I visited Bruce’s website, and they have no information. I sure wish I would have found your website before I had prefinished floors installed! Great site with great advice!

A: I don’t think Dura Seal has any colour ‘off the shelf’ that will match gunstock. You can go to any building center that carries Min Wax stains and see if there is anything in their line up that will match. Dura Seal is a subsidiary of Min Wax and their Dura Seal Quick Coat stains also includes all the min wax colours.

Applying darker stain in a sealer, over initially sealed in stain?

Q: Can you put stain on in a sealer? We’re reviewing the progress of our floors and don’t like the varied colors of the wood boards. We’d like to paint over the stain that’s already been sealed, with a darker stain.

Will this work?

A: I wouldn’t rely on that method. It is normal to have variation in colour from one board to the next.

I gave a gallon of Poloplaz 202 to a civil engineer friend of mine, who then added universal colourants to it and stain and coated a cabinet in one step. He said it worked great. How using a process like that on a floor that will be walked on is another matter.

Why did the floors look nothing like the sample photos on the poly and natural stain cans?

Q: After sanding our floors, they were a nice, light golden color. After applying gloss poly, they looked much, much darker and reddish! We decided to go oil based, natural stain in the other rooms and the same thing happened! Why did the floors look nothing like the sample photos on the poly and natural stain cans?

A: Every floor is different. Especially with very old floors. Not only do they get darker with age, but they may have years of grime and various finishes, cleaners and chemicals that have seeped deeper into the surface.

Color match existing floors to new prefinished floors

Q: My home is 11 years old. I have wood floors in the kitchen and hall. I want to use prefinished wood floors in the living room and dining room after removing the carpeting. Can I transition or match the existing floors that are not prefinished to new prefinished floors, or do I have to have the existing wood floors replaced with prefinished wood?

A: If you are asking if you can match the colour the answer should be yes. A good colour mixer should be able to come *close* to a colour match. Your pre-finished floors have bevels, even if only micro bevels. You site finished floor is square edge (a superior idea in my view) so that would be the most noticeable difference.

Bleaching from carpet tape so severe even darker stain won’t hide it

Q: We pulled out grungy carpet and now have tape marks that are a lighter color than the rest of the floor even after sanding. We had been told by multiple people that if we went with a darker stain you wouldn’t see the difference however the carpet tape marks are still lighter than the rest of floor. Do you have any suggestions on how to fix this?

A: This sounds like one of those rare occasions when the bleaching is so severe even a darker stain won’t hide it. If you haven’t applied any finish you might be able to carefully wipe on and feather in more stain and don’t wipe it off. Just let it sit and dry.

Matching new (heart pine) hardwoods to 95 year old hardwoods

Q: I had termite damage in one room of my 95 year old home. The room required new flooring. The other rooms have a dark, consistent appearance. The new flooring was stained, but its appearance is noticeably lighter and the grain is heavier.

My flooring contractor said the new flooring is heart pine, but compared to the original heart pine floors, it will lack the red or darker tones. Should a stain get the appearance close (tone and color)? Or am I out of luck trying to match new hardwoods to 95 year old hardwoods?

A: In 95 years the new pine will be a much closer match to the original. 🙂

I did a job recently for a contractor who had me stain new pine an orange color. In his mind, this colour is to make the pine look old. As far as I’m concerned, they look like new pine stained orange. I don’t know of a way to duplicate natural aging.

Opaque, jet black, high gloss finish?

Q: I am looking for an opaque, jet black, high gloss finish for a freshly sanded oak floor. Any ideas on what products to use?

A: Perhaps Min Wax has something like that in their polyshades line. I don’t know that I would be using it on my floor though. Another idea may be to mix the blackest stain with Waterlox and apply that.

Porch and porch ceiling can’t be stained?

Q: I installed a Mahogany T&G porch floor and Cypress T&G porch ceiling for a client about a month ago as part of a larger project. We specifically state in our contract that we don’t stain, but do provide our clients a list of companies who do.

The client took several weeks to contact the first such company who immediately told them that the it didn’t matter what he did to the floor, that it wouldn’t last because it had been exposed to the elements. They were also told that the porch ceiling couldn’t be stained because gravity would be working against them.

Are both of these statements true and, if so, what are our options (i.e. do we have to redo one and/or the other)? Also, do you have a recommendation for oil vs. urethane stain?

A: It sounds to me the fellow has been sniffing fumes too long. Any wood that is stained and a finish applied needs to be within normal limits for that species regarding moisture content. Oak, for example is typically 7-9%. Is this porch exposed to the elements or is it enclosed and heated? You may need to use an exterior varnish. If that is the case, Swing Paints will actually tint it for you in their exterior varnish. www.circa1850.com

It is my understanding that Dura Seal Quick Coat is a urethane stain, as are those made by Poloplaz. I have used both and they share the same colour line. They are fine but you have to work at a decent rate and can’t stop to lounge by the pool while applying it.

Dots all over floor in DIY stain job

Q: I’m in the process of staining my floor and there are a whole bunch of little, tiny colored dots all over the place. Can stain have air bubbles? How can I fix this so that my floor looks normal?

A: I’m not sure what the dots are or why they are there. If you were sweating at the time, sweat drops could open the grain and make the stain go darker in those spots. Also, you are suppose to apply the stain, let it soak for several minutes and then wipe off the excess. Did you do that?

Follow-up Q: I didn’t do that. Can I fix it or do I have to start over?

A: If I made a mess of staining I’d probably screen the crap out of the floor to remove as much of the stain as possible and then stain again. Of course, you need the equipment to do this and you may not even know what I mean by “screening”. You could try wiping the floor down with mineral spirits to remove the excess stain. Did I mention this is not really DIY work?

Areas where stain is blotchy and unevenly colored

Q: We are having our oak floors refinished in a darker stain to add contrast to the other woods in the house. Last evening, the professional finished sanding and added the stain. He is coming back today to do the poly sealant; however, my husband and I noticed areas like in front of the refrigerator that are blotchy and unevenly colored. How can this be fixed? What should I tell the professional today who told me last night it was just the “different wood”? I don’t want to seal it and have it remain uneven.

A: This is difficult to answer without knowing why it looks blotchy and what stain he used and what technique he used when preparing the floor. He will probably have to remove and restain the area to one degree or another which still won’t guarantee a perfect match between that spot and the rest of the floor. It might be that after the finish is applied the area won’t really look all that noticeable in relation to the rest of the floor.

Stained and now have footprints throughout the room

Q: We sanded our old maple floors, starting with coarse grit, going all the way to 180 grit. After vacuuming the floors and cleaning with mineral spirits, we let the floors dry. Wearing clean sneakers (the bottoms were clean), we stained the floors a chestnut color.

Now we have 1 coat of stain and footprints throughout the room. Can we sand this stain down and clean and apply a second coat, or will the footprints show up again?

A: I would use perhaps an orbital sander with 80 grit and/or a polisher and remove as much of the stain possible. 180 grit is too fine. I’m surprised you got much of any stain penetration at all. Generally finish with 100 grit.

Water popping (wetting the floor) will open the grain and allow deeper more consistent colour. Wet and let dry, then stain. It sounds to me that your clean shoes were wet on the bottom. Did you clean them by wiping with a wet cloth? If so, you accidentally popped the grain and got the darker stain colour in the outline of your shoes.

Also see our recommendation to hire a pro.

Can you stain Brazilian cherry floors any color?

Q: We have Brazilian cherry floors throughout that may need to be refinished. A couple questions:

1) Does refinishing mean re-staining?

2) Can you stain Brazilian cherry floors any color (such as a chocolate brown)?

3) Our floors scratch so easily and show a white mark. Since the floors may need to be refinished, what can be done to prevent this?

A: Refinishing means to sand and and apply a finish of choice. Re-sanding and staining means to apply a stain to alter the colour of the wood. Jatoba can be stained. The finishes used in the factory are very hard. When they get scratched they leave what looks like a white scratch. This is how aluminum oxide finishes look when they fracture on dark floors. I have heard that Jatoba can contain an extractive which reacts with oil based finishes and the mineral spirit solvent and can leave white blotches. Since this varies from one batch to another it may be wise to use a water born polyurethane.

Very strong odor from stained floors even after three weeks

Q: I’m moving into an apartment within the next 2 weeks. When I first saw the apartment the first thing I noticed was a very strong odor from the newly stained floors. I don’t know exactly what it was, but my friend said it was definitely from the stain. After 3 weeks the smell is still there. How do I get rid of this smell, besides just fanning it out the window?

A: Stains and finishes dry when the solvent in them (mineral spirits) evaporate. But they have to go somewhere. If the area has been closed up with no ventilation the gasses will stay in the area, cling to walls, etc. Open some windows. Try to get some cross ventilation happening. Use a box fan in a window if need be. You should be able to get the area cleared out quickly.

I had a customer complain to me once that after 2 weeks he was still getting an odour from the floor finish. I went to investigate. There was an odour but it actually was from the new carpet he had installed on the stairway.

Restained in stages, resulting in various shades?

Q: Several years ago I refinished our oak floors and restained in stages, resulting in various shades of walnut. I used both water borne polyurethane and oil-based clear coat in other areas.

Would a commercial upright random orbital sander used with the intent of removing the surface finish suffice as a restaining base? I did use filler on all floors.

I would appreciate and advice or comments. The intent, of course, is to have a continuously consistent surface. Also, are there any particular final finishes that you recommend?

A: To re-stain you would need to remove all the existing finish, so I think you should just take the entire floor back to bare wood. Make sure all the floor areas are prepared in the same way, using the same techniques and abrasive grits in all areas. It should be noted that most (but not all) water borne urethanes tend not to amber like solvent (oil based) finishes do. So, to use different finish types in different areas will cause a different colour over time.

I love Poloplaz Primero. It rolls beautifully and is quite tough when cured. It is solvent based but doesn’t amber as much as some similar products. If you want a finish that stays clear, doesn’t smell and dries fast then Poloplaz 202 is a really good option. While it is a 2 component finish, the hardener is actually pre-added to the gallon jug. This means little to no finish waste. Other high end water borne coatings have a separate cross linker (often iso-cyanate) and has a very limited pot life of hours to a day or so.

Stain brands besides Duraseal?

Q: I just had red oak floors installed. We did the Duraseal stain tests and I personally do not like any of their colors. Is there another stain brand? Or does doing a double coat of stain make it richer?

A: Dura Seal actually now includes the entire Min Wax stain line and comes in a fast dry version. You can make any colour darker and richer by using a technique called water popping. The floor surface is wiped down with a wet cloth (don’t miss any spots) and when dry the stain is applied. Water popping opens the surface grain allowing better stain penetration.

There are a lot of stain manufacturers. Circa, Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams, Bona fast dry, etc.

Also see our recommendation to hire a pro.

Parts of newly stained floor are sticky and tacky

Q: I recently stained my wood floors, some parts of the floor are sticky and don’t feel dry…

A: When you applied the stain, did you stain a section, let it soak for a few minutes and then wipe off the excess with a clean cloth? If you didn’t this could explain why it is slow to dry. You might be able to remove some stain sitting on the surface of the floor by wiping it down with mineral spirits. Make sure to properly dispose of all stain and solvent soaked rags. I would open the windows and ventilate the area well.

Related Q: We had floating engineered hardwood floor placed in a rental house about 1 year ago. The previous renters unfortunately damaged the house as well as scratched up the hardwood flooring pretty bad. The contractor we hired to do all the repairs poured hardwood stain on small areas of the floor and rubbed in the stain on all the areas to stain in the scratches. 3 Days later the floor is very sticky. We tried mopping, but it hasn’t helped a lot. Is there anything we can do to wipe off the excess stain without ruining the existing finish on the floors? Thanks!

A: I would dampen a cloth with mineral spirits and wipe off as much of the excess stain as possible. Don’t leave that cloth sitting around after. Soak it and put it in a none flammable container.

Similar Q: We put minwax floor stain on the floor last night at 6 p.m., and today at 1 p.m. it is still very sticky. I now have 3 fans trying to dry it as well as a humidifier. Any suggestions? The can said it should have dried in 6 hours.

A: What the instructions say on any can is only a general guide, and is meant to reflect ideal conditions. High humidity conditions, low temperatures, poor ventilation, or too heavy stain application, or failing to wipe off the excess stain, will all slow drying considerably. It could take up to 48 hours for Min Wax stains to dry. Keep doing as you are and open some windows. Don’t apply any finish until you can rub a white cloth on the stain without getting any transfer.