Professional floor finisher made a “blotchy” stain job

Q: We had our floors sanded, stained grey and polyurethaned. The stain did not come out even. When I asked about the blotchiness the professional said it was primed and some wood takes color better than other planks of wood. Is this true? If not, can I mix grey stain and poly to go over the areas that need more grey?

A: What can I say about this?  How blotchy is it?  It is true that each individual piece of wood can and often does accept stain differently, some being lighter in colour, and others being darker.  But that is not blotchy.  The stain is still consistent on each board regardless of whether it is lighter or darker or more red or more brown.  Some species of wood will present a blotchy appearance, especially maple.  I have always warned homeowners in that case what to expect.  Oak on the other hand accepts stain consistently if no preparation errors haven’t been made, other than the scenario I mentioned first.

I don’t know what stain and finish was used.  If it was a solvent based stain you won’t be mixing that with a water born finish, if that is what they used.  And trying to do patches with just finish is usually unforgiveable, never mind mixing stain with it.  So, my answer would be no.  I guess if my floors were at the end of their life and there was nothing to lose by trying an experiment that didn’t cost much money, I might try something.  Otherwise, no. 

Follow-up Q: I truly have no idea what kind of stain he used. All he said was that the color was grey stone. The sample he showed on a portion of my floor looked very grey and I loved it but sadly it the end product looks more brown than grey. Here on the left of the floor the grey stain looks beautiful but as he got to the center and the exit on right bottom corner he either wiped away too much stain or didn’t apply enough.  Thought I could polyurethane over  with grey mixed in. Thanks for answering my questions.  (Photo included.)

A: I’m not sure what to think about this.  With the two bottom samples, they don’t look the same to me at all.  The one to the left could be golden brown.  I can see a hint of gray in the one on the right but it is mostly brown.  The gray is more clear on the upper two photos with the one on the right showing more brown wood tones.  I assume he worked from the same can of stain for the entire job.  If the preparation was the same or near the same everywhere, and if he mixed the stain occasionally I can’t explain it.  The finish appears to have gone down very well.  Attempting to mix the stain and finish will leave you with a giant area that is a mess.  I wouldn’t attempt it personally, and I’m the floor guy.

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