First time staining wood floor a dark color

Q: I’ve clear coated several floors in the past year but my current project is my first dark stain on a large floor. In my first attempt, I failed in getting an even stain. I took it back to bare wood for my second attempt.

I didn’t get too far before realizing switching to oil-based, and very meticulously sanding to 220, still left invisible sanding anomalies. I also had some places where water had splashed/ been wiped off and sanded but it left very visible dark spots and droplets after stain.

Now I’ve taken this newly stained portion back to 60G with a buffer to try and remove the stain, but it penetrated quite deep in these problem spots. If I was to raise the grain now during sanding (just with damp lambswool) could this help me to remove the discolored wood I’m sanding now? The area is almost to bare wood but has got faint blotches that seem to run too deep to remove with the buffer.

My strategy would be to then get the newly sanded portion back up to 100G. Then to sand the rest of the floor back down to 100G (perhaps again open the grain first to make sanding more productive by passing with a damp lambswool because the grain is closed up). Then return the whole floor to 220G and water pop carefully before staining. I’m using Minwax oil-based jacobean.

Is this concept of popping to help with sanding and popping again to prep for oil-based stain a terrible idea?

A: First, you are going far too fine with your grit selection. 100 grit should be the final grit in wood prep before staining. If this is softwood I simply stain regardless of color used. If it is hardwood and a dark color I usually water pop or wet the surface to open the grain. I would not water pop on softwood. I would apply the stain in rows not very wide, 2-3′, wall to wall. Apply and then go back and wipe excess off with a clean rag. You have to move at a good speed. No air movement while doing this.

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