Blotchy maple floor stain job

Q: I have a prefinished maple natural color hardwood floor. I had it professionally sanded and stained to try to match the rest of the house. Even though it was sanded, every old ding in the floor the stain saturated at. Now I have spots all along edges by the kitchen cupboards. Also, the stain is darker near the edges than in the middle of the floor.

What can I do? I asked if a 2nd coat of stain would even out the color. The pro said Maple isn’t porous and a second coat wouldn’t make a difference. He put 1 coat of stain and 3 coats of “Traffic” clear coat. How do we fix blotchy maple stain?

A: Maple is not a great wood to stain. This is warned against at the National Maple Flooring Manufacturers web site. It tends to go blotchy because of the varying difference in density along each board. However, being darker along the edges and lighter in the middle? That is a sanding error. It is rare to see that one. Usually the mistake is in reverse with edges being significantly lighter. It means the lighter area has been sanded more smoothly than the edges so it would not take the stain the same way. I think I would have water popped the entire floor to improve penetration throughout.

Follow-up Q: Thanks for your response. The contractor was going to water pop the floor but decided after a test area that it wasn’t needed. What can I do to fix the darker edges and also the dark stained dings in the floor?

A: They have already applied finish to the floor. I’m afraid the only way to fix it is to start from scratch.

2nd Follow-up Q: Thanks for your reply. Attached are pictures. The contractor has agreed to re-do the entire floor. Notice how it’s darker on the edges in picture 1? Notice the spots in picture 2? They were dings in the floor and even though he sanded it still grabbed the stain darker. I will ensure he water pops the floor. Would a 2nd coat of stain also help? He said a second coat of stain wouldn’t help because it’s maple, but he would do it if I wanted. Do you have any other suggestions?

A: No, I’m not a big fan of applying 2 coats of stain lest it impede adhesion of the finish. Water popping should provide all the penetration needed for a good, even colour. I’m doubtful those little dark spots are the floor guys fault though. It may actually be the wood itself, but hopefully the water popping will help.

Related Q: I put one coat of ebony stain on my maple floor, but it came out a bit splotchy. Can I water pop it and try applying another coat of stain? Without sanding it or anything?

A: By the nature of the wood, maple does present blotchy areas. This is due to the wide range of density found throughout each piece.

I always water pop when using dark colours on hardwood. This would be more so with staining maple. You should try and remove as much of the stain as you can first. You can use a polisher with medium grit (80 then 100 grit) to work on the main area and an orbital sander with 80 grit for the edges. Do the edges first. After removing as much stain as you can, clean up and wet with warm water. When dry, stain again. I did this once on an old oak floor that went bad and it turned out just as it should when I was finished.