Several places stain did not take

Q: I am refinishing our floor. I sanded several times, cleaned, stained. Found several places stain did not take at all. I have done this floor before and several others in our other homes with none of this. Please give me a clue why the wood stain did not take.

A: My guess is you did not remove all the old finish. It can be especially difficult when removing water born coatings. Because they are so light in colour, if you skim over it but don’t totally remove all traces it is difficult to see the finish that is left. It looks like bare wood until you apply stain. Or something happened in your preparation so that the spots where the stain did not ‘take’ is sanded significantly smoother than the surrounding floor. Sometimes it is helpful to ‘water pop’ the wood first, which simply means wetting the floor surface, letting it completely dry before applying the stain. This opens the surface grain, allowing deeper, more even stain penetration. You have to be sure not to miss any spots with water and also not to scuff your feet when applying the stain, lest you close up the grain in those spots. Tricky work for sure.