Maple floors and blotchy stain

Q: We just finished sanding and staining our maple floor for the second time. Both times the stain looks terrible. It’s blotchy, thick and dark in some areas and lighter in other areas. For the 2nd sanding, the floor guys said they sanded the edges differently, which sounds like what your website advises. But the stain is almost worse this time. Should the floor be sealed in some way, before applying the stain?

And now that we have this mess, should we sand again? For stain we used Minwax the 1st time and Zar the 2nd time, and it was applied with a rag.

A: This is exactly why the National Maple Flooring Association does not think staining maple is a good idea. it will likely turn out blotchy because of the density of the boards. You should know this by now, having stained the floor twice. Using pre stain conditioners will create other issues. You can’t change the nature of the wood itself.

Related Q: I work for a company that just expanded their dinner theater room. A 600 square foot addition was added to the back of a building. With that addition, the dinner theater stage was moved back, exposing wood floors. After the stage was moved there was a line of glue or possibly old wax buildup between the wood that has been exposed and the rest of the floor that has been refinished over the years.

The wax/glue came off beautifully. However, after sanding it (with a palm sander on the affected area), and applying Howard’s natural stain to the area, it took on a blotchy darker appearance (primarily on the area that was just exposed). Any ideas on how we can blend the wood and decrease the look of the line in the floor?

A: In settings like this I would not be surprised to find the wood flooring is maple. Maple is not the best wood to stain because it does tend to be blotchy. Also, if you were sanding and stain matching along a board edge, you would have better odds of success. It is about impossible to not have a line if you are staining across numerous boards. If the stain is darker than expected, it is possible you did not use a fine enough abrasive. With stain, I usually finish up with 100 grit. You could try wiping the stain down with a cloth dampened with mineral spirits to see if you can lighten it. No guarantees but it is the least intrusive thing to try first.