Removing dark stain

Q: We have select hard maple flooring from Canada throughout our new construction home as well as two sets of stairs that are also hard maple. Our flooring and stairs should have been sealed naturally; however, a dark stain was applied. After professional sanding, stain remained in all joints of where the flooring was put together.

Fortunately, the bottom floor was not stained; therefore, we had it sealed naturally as desired. We had to replace our upper flooring due to the unauthorized staining in which left dark lines in each joint and when sealed naturally those dark lines were highlighted, it looked awful. Both sets of stairs including railing, balusters, spindles, skirt/running boards and posts have also been stained. Our former contractor sanded some areas of the stairs in an attempt to correct his grave error for ~3 weeks before breaking his contract and leaving. One coat of stain was applied; however, it is a darker stain and it seems impossible to remove all the stain due to disproportional stain absorption. We would greatly appreciate any professional advice or suggestions on what our options are concerning both sets of our hard maple stairs. Also, if you know anyone that has dealt with such a problem in the past and/or would be qualified to complete our stairs, we would appreciate a referral. Someone mentioned wash coating…what exactly is this?

A: I am sorry. I don’t know what “wash coating” is. That aside, the North American Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association does not recommend staining hard maple because of the blotchy appearance that is created. It is not the best wood for staining.

Like all woods, especially if a dark stain is used, it really is impossible to remove all traces of stain. Even oak will harbour traces in the heavy grain that won’t be removed by sanding. At this point, I really think your options are: live with the traces of stain, or re stain the stairs so the dark areas don’t seem as noticeable. I know this can be a decorators challenge. But once a wood is stained, and the stain will penetrate deeper into the wood than any floor finish, you cannot remove all traces of it. You are going to have to deal with what you’ve got.