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  • Writer's pictureRobert Christensen, Redlands Wood Renewal

How to stain a wood floor

Updated: Jun 12, 2020

1) The flooring must be clean and sanded smoothly. Smooth means down to 120 grit sandpaper. Ensure there are no circular sanding marks. These will be unfortunately highlighted after you stain the floor and be unsightly. Exceptions are for wood flooring that is deliberately roughed up for a rugged appearance, also called a distressed look. This is a popular look in finer homes, but most homeowners are reluctant for this deliberately distressed look. Before you stain, ensure the floor is smooth, free of dust. Another possibility is to tack the floor with acetone soaked rag in the direction of the wood grain. Acetone will pick up saw dust debris, grease and shoe footprints from someone who walked across the floor unwittingly. Water however, could leave a watermark.

2) Most stains tend to be pigmented strongly, and require some dilution. Kerosene or acetone are stable enough in oil based stains for dilution. It is ok to mix different oil based stains to find the right combination. It is rare to find a perfect color right out of the can off the shelf. Try on like pieces of wood. Place them in the home, usually in front of a fireplace in the den, and write down the ratios and names of the stains on the back of the wood. Take a picture of the approved formula.

3) Use a brush to pull out the stain from the container. Brush in the direction of the grain. You should do only the amount of wood you have time to rag up excess. After brushing on, rag up in the direction of the grain. Try to pull to the end of the plank and avoid stopping and starting. This could lead to accumulation and spotty application. Pull rage over previoulsy applied stain, and only use the brush to apply stain over unstained wood.

4) Allow 24 hours to dry before applying a clear coat. You can walk on the floor in socks, or shoes with shoe covers. Check areas that need a reapplication here and there. The first coat of poly will utilize the most. Once cured, you may see a rough appearance called grain rise. This is normal. Once cured, you can knock down this grain rise by buffing out with a large 3M pad, then apply your second coat of poly.

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