Mix an oil based stain with water borne finish? Change stain/color without sanding?

Q: We have been told by a flooring company that they can change the color of our oak hardwood floors from a natural to a dark walnut without sanding the floor. I believe they called it screening. Is this correct information and should we be concerned? The stairwell would be done also. I should mention the floor is in good condition, however being 20 years old it has yellowing from sunlight, because there are many windows in our home.

A: This is sinking to knew depths in cutting corners and making a quick buck if you want my opinion. They are probably going to mix some stain with the polyurethane and apply that? It will look like paint, may be blotchy, and if you get a scratch on your floor it will likely remove not just the finish but the mixed in stain also. I would consider this a very bad short cut.

Related Q: We have a maple floor with a dark chocolate stain. It is 10 years old. In many of the traffic areas the stain is chipping and peeling, revealing the much lighter would beneath. How do we repair this?

A: If the stain is chipping off the wood then I would have to think whoever did this work mixed stain with the finish and applied it to the floor instead of staining the wood first and applying finish afterward. This floor will need to be totally done over from scratch.

Follow-up Q: Thanks for your answer. This was a brand new floor 10 years ago. We are very disappointed with the quality of the work done. Unfortunately, I can’t afford a complete redo right now. Can I do spot repairs / finishing and restaining?

A: Maybe colored marker pens might help, but stain does not chip off. You are going to have to live with the floor until you can afford to get the job done right.

Similar Q: I just had my old wood floors sanded and sealed with a water based sealer. The floor company used a water based product (Bona Kemi). They did not stain my floor and unfortunately the color came out very cold looking. The floor had been a warm reddish brown color before it was sanded. I’m considering re finishing the floor because I hate the color! Do you know if it is possible to add a stain to a water based product like Bona and apply it over the sealed floor with out having to re sand and completely start again? Can I change stain color without sanding? The floor is old and the nails are starting to show and it probably should not be re-sanded. What would happen if I mixed stain and a water based sealer (like Bona) painted it on the currently sealed floor and then let it dry and put another coat of sealer on top?

A: I would agree your floors sound like they best not be sanded again. I’m surprised samples were not made first to give you an idea of how the stain might look. Did you not see the stained floors before they applied the sealer? That would have been the time to make any needed adjustments. Now, I’m afraid it really is too late. You can’t mix an oil based stain with a water borne finish. I don’t even recommend mixing an oil (solvent) stain with a similar polyurethane. It will just turn into a blotchy mess.

Similar Q: I do not like the red oak color and want to go darker. Do the floors have to be completely stripped to apply a darker polyurethane?

A: If you want a proper job wherein the surface of the wood is actually stained to the colour of your liking, then yes, you will have to have the floor sanded to clean wood. I don’t consider adding stain to a polyurethane to be a good idea.