Finish has dried with milky white spots

Q: I have an old hardwood (maple, I think) floor that’s never been waxed since it was last refinished about 20 years ago. I sanded the floor (220 grit) to remove the old finish. In the process some of the old color came off. I used some Minwax stain over the entire floor, let it dry good, then tack clothed the entire floor again because of a powdery residue. Then I finished with Minwax clear satin. The problem I have is that the finish has dried with milky white spots in it.

How do I correct it? I will sand down to bare wood and start over if necessary.

A: It sounds like you did not sand the entire floor down to clean wood, but then wiped stain over the entire floor. You may be having adhesion issues with this, so if that is what is happening, you are better off to take the floor down to clean wood.

Similar Q: Hi, we recently had our hardwood floors redone in our living room and family room. One day they sanded and stained. Day two they put 3 coats of water based sealant on it. I know they sanded in between coats 2 and 3, but not sure if they did anything between coats 1 and 2. I was told on day 3 we could move furniture back, but we kept off it that day. The morning of day 4 we moved a few things carefully back. That’s when I noticed some little white spots/marks here and there. At first I thought it was dust, but the spots wouldn’t move. And they are not necessarily in areas that we had walked over to move furniture. Do you have any idea what is going on? The stain is a medium brown.

A: I’m not sure. I do know waterbourne urethane can ‘blush’ or get a milky look if applied in excessively high humidity. However this would be everywhere, not just some spot. Did they use an oil based stain? If they did I’m wondering if these spots are a reaction between your finish and the solvents in the stain trying to escape.

Related Q: How do you remove a milky look from newly refinished hardwood floors?

A: Here is a decent article about this issue. I hope it helps.