Streaks from mopping or vacuuming on sanded floor

Q: My husband and I took off the carpet, nails, etc. This past weekend my husband and dad sanded the floors, vacuumed the dust up with a shop vac and then used a damp mop to wipe up remaining dust. The vacuuming and mopping in some parts or the room were done against the grain because at the time we didn’t think it mattered.

All of the sanding was done with the grain of the wood.

Before we stained the floors, we noticed two areas in the downstairs that appeared to have streaks across them. The streaks/lines were the same size as the mop. We lightly sanded those areas again and then stained.

The next day, those areas had very noticeable lines/streaks that didn’t blend in with the rest of the floors. Did the mopping or vacuuming cause this? What can be done to fix this problem?

A: I keep trying to tell people this work isn’t easy.

Ok, the problem Was caused by the wet string mop. We have a technique in this trade which not everyone uses, to achieve a fuller, more even colour. After thoroughly vacuuming the floor, you should wet (not soak) the surface of the entire floor and then let it dry. You must not miss any spots, and the best way to do this is in, say, 4-5 ft. wide rows, wetting the surface from one end of the room to the other. Simply dunk a cloth in a bucket of water, ring it out so it is not dripping wet and wipe an area at a time. This is called popping the grain. If it is not done evenly, or if spots get missed, your result happens.

Provided you have not applied any finish to this floor yet, you may be able to save the job. You will need at least one or both of these pieces of equipment: A 4X8 orbital sander and a polisher. You could go out and buy a roll of 80 grit sandpaper from your local flooring company to cut your own 4X8 inch sheets, but you won’t likely use the entire roll. You will also need, depending on job size, close to a package of 80 grit screens to fit the size of the polisher you may have, whether 15″, 16″ or whatever. The orbital sander will be used to remove as much of the stain possible from the perimeter of the room(s), while the polisher will be used to do the same for the main area.

After you have removed all the stain possible, at least from the surface (you won’t get it out of the grain, so don’t worry about that), vacuum the floor and wet it as described. When it is dry, apply the stain with a cloth, row by row, wiping off the excess with a clean cloth until each row is completed. Allow stain to completely dry before trying to apply finish. If you think this is hard so far, wait until you start applying the floor finish.:)

Also see our recommendation to hire a pro.

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