Our stain is too dark all around the perimeter

Q: Our stain is too dark all around the perimeter, but the middle is perfect..

A: When a mistake like that happens it is almost always the opposite, with lighter perimeters. It is caused by unequal preparation. The main area is smoother than the edges hence takes less of the stain than the edges. If there was no finish applied to a floor like this I would try to remove as much stain as possible with an orbital sander, polisher with 80 grit, then 100 grit as possible. Then after clean-up wet with warm water, let dry and stain again.

Similar Q: My floors were refinished. 2 Different sanders were used. Around the perimeter of the floor, where a smaller sander was used, the stain is darker and the floors do not look blended. Will this ever disappear?

A: To have the edges come out darker than the main floor area is unusual. More often than not, an error like this will leave the edges lighter, creating a halo around the room. The cause is from the edges being either smoother or rougher than the main field. No, it won’t ever go away on it’s own.

Another Similar Q: My son recently had his old hardwood floors re-done by a professional. The floors are White Oak, thin boards approx. 2 1/2″ wide. They were natural, never re-done since install in 1973. They have been sanded and stained a dark brown color with 3 coats of oil based Polyurethane applied. One of the bedrooms seems to have the stain applied incorrectly, as the perimeter is quite a bit darker than the center. The Pro said this is due to a rug being on the floor previously. With the floor being sanded down, I can’t understand this explanation as all. Wouldn’t the old yellowing/discoloration have been removed? Why is the wood floor stain darker there?

A: I have seen this “halo” effect. More often than not it is lighter around the perimeter but I have seen it darker too. The usual cause is the sanding done on the edges does not match in smoothness the rest of the floor and the stain will absorb accordingly. I always finish off by sanding the perimeter with 8 grit on an orbital or random orbit sander and screen the entire floor with a polisher with 100 grit which also gets very close to the walls. For darker colours I almost always wet the floor to pop the grain and when dry, then stain. I think there was likely a mistake in the preparation. Staining is not easy to do and it’s important to look over the floor carefully before staining.

SimilarĀ Q: We are in the process of refinishing our floors. They only stained around the edges of the floor and the middle of the room there is a different color due to age. How can I stain the floor to be one color?

A: The color should be fairly consistent. What can happen is the edges will be lighter and the rest of the floor darker. This is called a halo and is caused by improper preparation. In this case the edges were smoother than the rest and does not allow the same stain penetration. Everything should be finished with the same grit of sandpaper. I would try and remove as much of the stain as possible. On the edges an orbital sander can be used with 80 grit sandpaper. Likewise, if the entire floor has been stained already, the main area can be polished with a floor polisher and 80 grit screens or sandpaper, followed by using the polisher with 100 grit screens. You can get very close to the wall with the polisher. Vacuum up and stain. If it is a dark color you may have better success if you water pop the wood first. You simply wet (not soak) the wood surface to open the grain for better and more even penetration. Let it dry thoroughly before staining. Don’t miss any spots with the water and do not scuff your feet when staining as this may close the grain resulting in light marks.