Bad floorsanding job

Q: I am an idiot. My buddy and I sanded floors and re-stained them. Here are the numerous ways we did it wrong: 24 grit using a block sander then 36. shop vac’d the surface, no tack clothing, stained with a brush, no in between sanding, no tack cloth, 2nd stain coat on second day. Result: rough floors with debris in lots of areas and wet places everywhere.

Before my buddy makes the final fatal step and applies poly, what should I be doing to save this disaster? PS it’s been 6 plus days of having heat at 72 at night and plenty of ventilation during day. I say that I wipe up excess stain that’s not drying with mineral spirits or something, and sand at least with the mesh/metal sanding paper, tack cloth it and then stain again. This time carefully removing all debris with tack cloth and hand brushing to avoid excess stain again. I would like to finish the floor with poly eventually. Yes, I know. We are morons. Can you help? Thanks so much.

A: Ha! Well, I won’t comment on everything you said here but I will tell you what I know having been doing this type of work more than 40 years. Most of my floor renovations involve staining.

First, I try to remove the finish to clean wood with the finest grit that will do the job. Generally this means starting with nothing rougher than 40 grit. I would only go down to 36, 30, 24 or rougher is the floor was truly nasty and gummy. Somehow you thought you could stain the floor after using 36 grit? For staining I always finish sanding with 100 grit, orbital sand the edges with 80 grit and then use a polisher and 100 grit abrasive screen over the entire floor. Thoroughly vacuum before staining. Most colours tend toward darker tones so I almost always water pop the wood first and let it completely dry before staining. This opens the grain allowing better and more even stain penetration. I apply the stain on my hands and knees, row by row with a cloth. After each row (4 feet wide) I go back and wipe off the excess with a clean cloth before staining another row. I do not favour applying 2 coats of stain. You didn’t wipe off the excess stain and you did this twice.

You will need to get the machines out that you have been using and start working your way from where you left off with 36 grit. I would go next with 50 or 60 grit and then finish with 100. Then follow the steps I mentioned.

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