Yellow and “oranging” of wood

Q: I recently bought a 115-year-old house, remodeled within the past 10 years, with wall to wall carpet. I ripped up the carpet on the second floor, with the intention on re-carpeting, only to find old 2 3/8″ wide strip pine floors in relatively decent condition. The carpet caused some yellow and oranging of the wood.

I am now faced with needing to sand and stain (or not) these floors. This room is the TV room with floor to ceiling windows and access to the deck, so it gets sun and traffic. My hope is to put area rugs in the sitting area and at the door going outside. My questions are: Is sanding the best approach to this style pine floor? Also, is it better to leave the pine natural or attempt to stain? (I realized staining pine is a careful chore). My primary concerns are best looks for the resale of the house and durability in high traffic and constantly sunlit room. I will be using a professional for this work.

A: Using a professional. I would say that is a wise choice. Assuming these pine floors are original with the house, or very old, I would sand and finish natural, without staining. You will need at least 3 coats of floor finish. Old pine can exhibit plenty of its own warm coloration on its own, and unless it has water stains on it, I would not try to hide the natural color. As you say, pine is not the easiest wood to stain.

Are you sure this orange discolouration you mention is not actually paint? You are giving me horrible flashbacks here.

Durability has less to do with the pine itself, and more to do with using good quality finishes. Of course, it is a soft wood and does easily dent. There is no way to avoid that possibility, except trying to be careful.

The wood that was under the carpet is a little more yellow

Q imported from our old site, Face Lift Floors: I have removed a runner from my oak stairs, the staircase is bleached oak. The carpet was on there for about 8 years. I have replaced the runner with a new runner which is about 3 inches smaller. The wood that was under the carpet is a little more yellow than the exposed wood on the ends of the stairs is there anything I can do without having to restain the whole staircase and banister?

A: There is no way to correct this yellowing, except by resanding and staining the area. A proper nonyellowing finish should be used, in full accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, including spread rate and dry times. I say this because when applying water-based finishes with too heavy a film can actually cause the finish to yellow.

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