Staining bleached/white stained oak floors darker

Q: I have bleached oak floors / white stained hardwood floors. Will I be able to have them sanded and stained a cherry color?

A: You can change the stain color but you need to be aware that it is usually impossible to remove every single trace of stain from some parts of the heavy grain. So while the vast majority of this stain will be gone to make way for the cherry stain, you may see the occasional but slight trace of white.

White spots left from the white stain we sanded off

Q imported from our old site, Face Lift Floors:  I am in the middle of refinishing a hardwood floor – well, we have hired someone. The floor was white-washed (almost bleached out it looks like) to be much lighter than the original red oak that it is. We chose a dark color for the floor – when we came back after it had been finished, there are one or two distinct patches that did not take the color at all and still look very very light, almost white.

The person doing the floor said they sanded it twice already and tried to apply even more stain in that area, but it is just not taking the stain in those patches. It looks really silly and we’re wondering if there is anything we can do at all to fix this. It is in an obvious area – and as they told us, it’s like the old stain won’t come out and it won’t accept the new stain in that area.

A: It really sounds to me that they missed seeing the area they had missed with the sander and when they put on the stain, of course, it would not take. I doubt it is because they cannot get the stain out. You can and no doubt will still have traces of white stain in the heavy grain. But an entire patch? It sounds to me that they had a little bit of bad luck here.

It can be very difficult to see the white stain with, no doubt a non-yellowing water-based coating on top next to freshly sanded wood. Very difficult. And if you don’t spot it, then, you see the result. I don’t know how far they have gone with the job so far, but really, they need to pull out their edger and orbital sander and do those spots down to bare wood if it is possible or depending on how large an area it is, use a hand scraper. They have to remove the finish and stain.

There was possibly a dip in the floor and the sander went right over the area and missed it completely, and since it is such a light color, they missed seeing it.

I don’t know what procedure they used to apply the stain, or how dark the color is but it can also help as far as penetration by wetting the freshly sanded wood, letting it dry and then applying the stain. This is called “popping” the grain. The stain will penetrate deeper and result in a darker color. However, the wood has to be exposed. In other words, the finish and white stain must be removed. These stains set up pretty quickly, and there really isn’t much penetration into the wood at all with pastels. They missed the spot.

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