Applicator marks in stain, where Lambswool applicator first/last touched the floor

Q: I recently sanded my Red Oak floors and prepared them for staining. They looked amazing before the stain hit the deck. I applied DuraSeal Medium Brown with a Lambswool applicator, following the instructions from the container. I did about a 10 sq. ft., waited about 6 min., and tried to wipe off the excess. Every time I wiped (again with the lambswool applicator), I got a dark stain line / applicator marks in stain where the applicator first/last touched the floor.

Unfortunately, I moved on and before I knew I had one heck of an unevenly stained floor. I was beside myself. Over 20 hrs of sanding and prepping and it looked awful!

The next morning I came back and decided to try to “cut it down” with mineral spirits. To my surprise, it actually pulled off some of the heavy stain spots. But it is still uneven. I tried a fresh area of the floor with a cut down (5:1 stain:mineral spirits) mix and it went on like magic. I left town right after the final room was done and I’m worried about what I am going to come back to in the first room. Do you have any suggestions for me on how to fix the uneven stain in the first room?

A: Get a package of 80 grit screens and use a polisher to remove as much of the stain possible. On the edges use an orbital sander with 60 grit. Then when you have removed as much stain as you are able, screen with 100 grit and go 80 on the orbital. Water pop floor with warm water, and when dry, apply stain, row by row with a cloth. Apply a row. Wipe off excess with clean cloth or carpet pad and polisher.

Getting rid of lap marks

Q: I have just finished staining my pine floor. I used a wood conditioner and then used an oil based stain. I did this in two parts, and now I have lap marks. How do I get rid of these?

A: You could try rubbing the lap with a cloth dampened with mineral spirits. Or perhaps a mild abrasive pad with MS. It is possible that the lap won’t be that significant once a coat of finish is applied.

Lap marks: finishing left streaks and blotches

Q: I recently installed and finished a hickory floor myself. The install was tough, but it came out great. Sanding went well, but finishing left streaks and blotches (did an oil modified sealer then water based urethane). I wasn’t happy, so I resanded the floor back down, and this time did a water based sealer and then water based urethane. No streaks, but I do have the occasional lap mark where I needed to turn the t-bar around when dragging the puddle of finish. Any ideas on how to get rid of these? I have 1 coat of sealer and 2 coats of urethane. I am thinking of screening\sanding them down with very fine (300-400 grit) paper once the floor is cured for a few weeks. Any advice? And yes – I just found your Q&A, and you are right: leave the finish to the pros – it took me three tries to get the floor to where it is now!

A: The streaking and mop stops is probably related to the flattener in satin finish. This does cause even seasoned professionals plenty of grief. I have recently switched to an omu finish that doesn’t seem to do this. At least, I have used it in environments where I thought this would be the time it would streak and it didn’t. I would describe it as velvet to apply. Primero from Poloplaz. Best finish I have ever used in over 34 years. Bar none. Not only does it apply beautifully and dry above expectations. It is not just a pretty face. It is as tough as a finish gets. No doubt in my mind at all about this product.

Didn’t wipe off excess stain! Removing excess stain from hardwood floor

Q: I recently stained my floors in sections. Red oak floors with ****** Red oak stain. I applied with a sponge and blended with a china brush. I did NOT wipe it off. I can see the lap marks where the stain overlapped. I have not applied the poly yet. Is there a fix for this? How can I go about removing excess stain from hardwood floor?

A: I would try rubbing down the overlap with a cloth or very mild abrasive pad dampened with mineral spirits. Not wiping off the excess stain is a boo boo. Also, applying stain with a sponge can be very risky, since a sponge will cause too much stain to be applied to the floor. I am surprised that you don’t have major bleed back happening.

Similar Q: I just stained my oak hardwood floors. Now I have overlap areas that are darker. Can I use a moistened rag with mineral spirits to lightly rub this way, or do you recommend a different method? The floor has been dry for one day and I used oil based stain. Only one coat.

A: If you applied the stain and didn’t go back with a clean rag to remove excess stain, it might help. At least it is worth a try, but usually, with stain you have to get it right the first time. When I stain, I use a rag on hands and knees and stain a narrow row (3 feet wide) from wall to wall. Then I go back with a clean rag and remove excess. Do the next row the same with a slight overlap. The idea is to wipe off excess and move quickly.

Lap marks from stain

Q: I have lap marks on my hardwood floor from the stain. Is there any way of minimizing or removing these, short of starting all over again?

A: Sounds like the stain was applied row by row, which is the way I do it. After each row is applied, I will either wipe off the excess with a cloth, or buff it off with a polisher and carpet pad. If left too long, so that it is near dry before wiping, laps marks will happen. I have never had that problem myself. Perhaps some fine steel wool and a bit of mineral spirits will soften the over lap. have a clean cloth on hand to wipe off any stain that is pulled free. Be careful not to rub too hard.