Stain popped out footprints

Q: I just finished sanding my floors, and a little water got on my foot and I walked on the bare floor. The water dried, and I stained over it. Now you can see about 3 footprints in stained floor. How do I fix this, before I put poly on the floors?

A: The water opened the grain where you stepped and allowed the stain to penetrate more and become darker. You are going to have to rub (with sandpaper) the footprints and restain. You may have to do the entire boards affected so as not have it look like a blotch.

Similar Q: I Recently decided to refinish my original hardwood floors from the 1950’s. They were in pretty good shape, because I believe that the previous owners had carpet on them for most of their existence. I sanded with a 40 grit, moved to a 50 grit and finished with an 80 grit in all of the rooms. The floors looked great and were ready for stain. I applied a darker walnut oil based stain to the oak floors. After letting it dry over night I came back in the morning to use mineral spirits to clean up the tacky portions. My entire floor has different foot prints that are now visible. Nothing was visible before I stained the floors. It’s bad. I found my fiancees shoe marks, my boots, my socks and so forth. What caused this? Is my only recourse to re sand the areas that have the footprints? I never walked on the stain after I put it down. Please help.

A: OK, well you are suppose to apply the stain in sections, let it sit for a few minutes and remove the excess with a clean cloth. It sounds like you didn’t do that. Also, if you did not water pop to open the grain of the wood and somebody walked on the unstained wood with wet shoes or damp feet it can reveal distinct foot prints after. I would probably get a polisher with a package of 80 grit screens and try to remove as much of the stain that you can. Use an orbital or random orbital for the edges. Then go over the floor again with a 100 grit screen, vacuum and water pop the floor. This is simply wetting (not soaking) the surface. Let it dry and stain again. Don’t drag or scuff your shoes on the wood as this could close the grain. Wipe off excess stain and let dry before coating. I had one of my own jobs go bad a number of years ago. Almost everything that could go wrong went wrong and the stain looked awful. I followed the above procedure and it looked amazing when I was done. I was able to rescue it. I hope this helps. It’s a lot easier than having to start over.

Related Q: My floor is stained and ready for poly, but now footprints are all over it. Is there a way to fix these relatively quickly?

A: It is my guess that when the floor was prepared and then stained you did not ‘water pop’ the wood first to open the grain. However, it appears somebody has walked on the sanded floor with wet or damp feet and in doing so opened the grain everywhere their feet touched making the stain darker in those areas. I would remove as much of the stain possible. Go with a polisher and 60 grit screen for the main area, working your way up to 80 then 100 grit. So the same for the perimeter with an orbital sander. You won’t be able to remove all stain but that is ok. Clean up and water pop with warm water. When dry apply stain.

Similar Q: We got our wood floors restained, and while they were still wet I accidentally walked on it and now there is a foot print. Solutions?

A: You mean you stepped into the wet finish? Not the first time in history that has happened. I would isolate the boards which are affected by applying painters tape exactly around all the edges of those boards. Gently sand those boards with fine abrasive to smooth out the foot print and then after cleaning the dust off apply a thin coat of the same finish. Remove the tape immediately after applying this coat of finish. Be careful not to over sand the finish and end up removing the stain.