How to stain a hardwood floor – Gaylord Flooring

How to stain a hardwood floor

Are you a do-it-yourself type who likes a hands-on challenge when it comes to home improvement projects? Then learning how to stain a hardwood floor may be a job you would like to tackle. Let’s go over the tools, equipment and steps necessary to complete the task so that your hardwood floors are properly stained and looking as professional as possible.

What You’ll Need to Get Started

  • Stain
  • Push broom
  • Tack cloth
  • Rubber gloves
  • Belt sander and floor edger
  • Professional-quality vacuum
  • Clean rags, sponges or rollers

Prepping the Hardwood Flooring

You’ll need to carefully sand and clean the hardwood flooring before applying stain. Start by filling any holes with latex wood filler. You will need to sand the floor three times. For the initial sanding use a coarse-grit paper (grade 36, for oak, for example), which will create deep scratches. For the second sanding use a medium-grit paper (such as grade 50). This removes the deep scratches created by the first sanding, leaving shallower scratches. The third sanding will be done with a fine-grit paper (grade 80, for example). The resulting scratches should leave a surface that appears smooth. For complete instructions on how to properly sand hardwood floors please refer to the National Wood Flooring Association website. After sanding sweep the flooring with a push broom, and follow that up with a good vacuuming. Finish up by using a tack cloth to pick up the finest dust.

Water Popping

This technique involves applying water to the flooring with a wet rag. This opens the wood grain and allow the flooring to take the stain much darker. Let the flooring dry completely before applying the stain and don’t walk on the floor while it’s drying. Tip: When water popping and applying stain, start at the part of the room furthest from the door so you have a way out of the room.

Applying the Stain

Read the stain manufacturer’s directions for complete instructions and dry times, and take into account that the job-site conditions may affect the dry time. Be sure to ventilate the area you are staining as much as possible. For consistent colour, pour all the stain you will be using into one container and mix thoroughly. To keep colour consistency, remember to stir the stain regularly as you work. Apply stain to the floor with rags, sponges or rollers, going in the direction of the grain. You want to apply a generous coat, but you don’t want the stain to pool in places. After five to 10 minutes, wipe off the excess stain with clean rags. Keep in mind that the length of time the stain soaks into the wood determines the darkness of the final product. Staining works best with two people - one applying the stain as the other follows behind, wiping up the excess. Once the stain is completely dry, apply several coats of polyurethane for a durable finish. You will need to sand between coats. Tip: Oil-based stain rags are dangerous. Either dispose of the rags in a proper disposal container or dry them by spreading the rags out on a driveway or by hanging them on a clothesline.

Problems With Do-it-yourself Staining

Staining hardwood floors takes skill and concentration. If you sanded the floor improperly, there will be obvious marks and a total re-sand will be necessary to get an acceptable appearance. If the rag wasn’t consistently wet during the water popping, there will be inconsistencies in the grain, showing up as streaks in those areas. Some people like to stain hardwood flooring onsite because they like to have the ability to do a custom colour, but at Gaylord we can offer that same option with our prefinished flooring. Others believe finishing hardwood onsite results in a better finish, but that’s a misconception. Our prefinished flooring has a small micro bevel on each board, and where the boards meet there is a little groove. With site-finished flooring, because you’re sanding when the boards are all together on the floor, the surface of the floor becomes flat and the boards have square edges rather than bevelled edges. Wood shrinks and expands with different seasons. When boards without the bevels shrink, the edges can become very sharp, and even lead to injuries such as cuts on bare feet. During shrinkage with flat boards, gaps in between the boards are also much more noticeable than boards with the micro bevel. Often, jobs such as how to stain a hardwood floor are best left to the experts. With our prefinished hardwood flooring you will end up with a perfect finish and great stain consistency. There are many variables affecting the stain consistency and colour when staining is done by hand onsite. Our prefinished flooring is guaranteed for 40 years and 10 coats of finish are applied. Onsite finishing is very messy and can leave homeowners out of their homes for days. One of the great advantages of prefinished flooring is that it’s much easier for installation because you just install the floor and it’s done. If you'd rather have prefinished hardwood flooring then contact us or check out the hardwoods we offer in our hardwood floors section today. And, check out these informative articles from our blog: How to Increase the Value of Your Home With Hardwood Flooring How to Clean Hardwood Floors The Best Hardwood Floor Finishes: Why all Finishes are not Equal

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