Loop marks

Q: I have a new-found deep appreciation for people who work with wood. Here’s our problem: My husband and I have a very tight budget and scraped together the money to install wide plank pine floors.

After sanding with a drum sander (which there seems to be various opinions about whether that should have been used), applying ****** wood conditioner and ****** “Puritan Pine” stain, we have terrible looking floors with visible sanding marks (you can feel the raised areas plus some boards are wavy) both on the open area and the edges are horrible.. there are loop marks. What now? We’ve been told many things,  the most positive is to re-sand and then leave the wood natural. Is that possible? What would you recommend putting on the floors, if we are able to get them back to natural? While I would love to hire a professional, we can’t. What are our best options? We’re trying to achieve the old pine floor look with all the dings and such, we love the character of those floors.

A: Well, I’m glad you are coming to appreciate those who do this work for a living. If you had asked me before you started, I would have said that this is difficult, stressful and skilled work that should only be done by a professional. A person basically has to apprentice to work with this type of equipment and it also takes time to really learn and understand proper procedures. Often enough, we are faced with situations that also call for a good imagination and improvisation.

If I understand you, you paid someone to install the floors and you have rented equipment to sand, stain and finish them yourself. I would have recommended you try the install on your own and leave the rest to hired guns.

Pine is not easy to work with, and even more difficult to stain because it is so soft. You can leave marks quite easily from the abrasives and have to go very fine with the last sanding…say at least 120 grit. The edger takes particular skill to manipulate, even as the drum sander does. It is beyond the reach of the beginner. Even the wheels can leave marks. I would have gone over, at least the perimeter with a 4″X8″ orbital sander with anything 80 grit or finer to remove such marks, and if you have to go over the entire floor this way, then I would do so. However, it has to be a good orbital sander such as a Porter Cable or a Metabo. Not one of these jack hammers that cost $100 and does nothing but hurt your arms.

Perhaps your best bet, now that you are up to your elbows in this:There are large pad sanders you can rent. Never used one but I understand you can get pretty close to the walls and into the corners, which generally have to be done by hand. Hopefully, you could use this machine with a fine abrasive and remove as much of the stain and marks as you are able. I have never used these pre conditioners. The thing with pine is that you have to move fast with the stain. If you are doing to large of an area at once, and you stop to wet your applicator or cloth, it can leave a mark. I would stain it one plank, one row at a time. If you see an overlap, work the stain well to try and minimize it. Then remove the excess with a clean cloth. There is more fun ahead, provided this initial stage can be successful.