Staining Hardwood Floors

This article will outline exactly how to stain a hardwood floor. This isn’t going to be using the buffing method but rather using the method that many professionals use. By hand.

(thanks to Ben Osborne for video)

So, you have diligently sanded the floor in the fashion outlined on this website in order to produce the best possible finish for staining hardwood floors. Well even if you didn’t go that far and decided that enough is enough with the sanding.You have vacuumed the entire floor including around the edges with the hose.

You are going to need:

  • Latex Gloves (or similar, dust free preferably)
  • Paint brush
  • Lintless Cloths
  • Pot
  • Wood stain!

Before you handle the stain you should have your gloves on. Putting 2 on each hand means that you can take one pair off and have spinky clean new ones without having to go get more. Empty your stain tins into your pot and mix them together with a stirring implement.

You must mix all the tins you are going to use straight away as adding a can at a later time can cause a change in the color of the stain. I know this sounds silly when you have bought 5 “Georgian Medium Oak.” Every batch produced by a stain manufacturer has variations. Its fine when you have 5 tins from the same batch production. But when you have 2 of one batch and 3 of another and you add that final tin you were hoping to not use, it will make that last bit of the job a different color.

Staining hardwood floors isn’t as simple and straight forward as you first thought, is it?

Before you start staining you should plan your escape. Meaning, you should work out through which door you want to exit and begin at the furthest point away from that door. Try to make sure your plan includes areas that don’t fit in with the linear motion of “one side to the other,” like corridors and such.

Brush the stain on against the back wall going with the grain of the floor then brush down against the two sides (on the ends of the boards). Don’t do too many board widths at a time, you don’t want to make it deeper than an arms reach. 24 to 30 inches would be idea. Then dip the cloth in the stain, fairly quickly, otherwise you will have too much. Then rub the stain laden cloth over the floor within the border you have just created. You may need to reload the cloth several times before you have filled that area with stain. Then use a dry cloth to mop up the excess stain.

Now do this again with another strip of floor. Brushing in 1 edge (along the ends of the boards), then staining an area and drying it off as you go, from one side of the room to the other. Repeat this process of staining the hardwood floor in strips until you have completed the floor. There may be complications towards the end in terms of having to work your way backwards out of the door.

While you need to do it properly and try not to make mistakes, speed is of the essence. Staining the floor too slowly can lead to patchiness as areas start to dry while you are applying.

Not got all your answers? Quiz me in the comments.


Sanding in preparation for staining the floor

One thing that many people fail to realise when it comes to restaining their hardwood floors, is that the floor has to be sanded to a higher standard than a floor that would be finished with just a clear finish such as polyurethane, acrylic or hardwax oil.

The reason it must be finished to a much higher standard is that the wood dye/stain can collect in any scratch marks left in the floor by the sanding machines (check out floor sanding in letchworth for a great example of high quality sanding). The wood floor stain can collect in these scratches, exaggerate them and make them stand out like a saw thumb. It is very unsightly to see some edger scratches very obviously standing out because they are much darker than the rest of the floor. It doesn’t matter when you are not staining because the scratches stay the same as the rest of the floor and are therefore much less obvious at first sight.

So how do we sand the floor in such a way that we don’t get that effect? Well, the answer to that question is rather strange. We need to sand the floor to be very smooth, removing all scratches. At the same time we need to sand the floor so it is not so smooth that it doesn’t actually accept the stain into the grain of the wood. When the floor is sanded beyond 120 grit it often renders stain useless as only a tiny amount of stain soaks in. Then the lacquer doesn’t bind very well to the floor.

We want to finish the floor to around 100 to 120 grit on the main floor and 80 grit around the edges. Again, this isn’t good enough. Both the belt/drum sander and the edging sander leave scratches that will show up in the stain. What we want to do to ensure that the floor is scratch free we need to use a finishing sander.

Finishing sanders are sanding machines that either spin or oscillate or both. They also sand over a very large surface area, an area quite a few times larger than the belt sander or the edging sander. The goal of these machines is to smooth the floor. They blend the edges and the main body of the floor together. This is because the belt sander leaves a particular type of scratch and the edger another. The finishing sander sands both the edges and the main floor with the same spinning or oscillating fashion. For some reason these machines can leave the floor much smoother with an 80 grit than the belt sander can leave with a 120 grit.

So lets say we finish the floor to 100grit belt and 80grit edges, we then want to sand the floor with the finishing sander at ideally 80 grit, you may need to drop to 60 grit, sand the whole floor with that then cover the whole floor again with the finishing sander with 80 grit. 100 grit may produce too smooth a finish.

You may be changing sand paper a few times with the finishing sander as they get blunt, but once you have done the whole floor with the 80grit, use the sandpaper still on the sander to go over the whole floor. That way the whole floor has been finishing sanded with blunt 80grits. That’s the optimum finish, in my opinion, for staining the floor.

So that’s the sanding done. The next thing you will want to do is vacuum the floor completely. Be sure to use the hose to get right into the corners all the way round the floor. Vacuum the floor slowly to make sure you get everything up. Many people would now recommend that you tac mop the surface to be sure. In my honest opinion staining IS tac moping. The best thing to do in my opinion is to not tac the floor, apply the stain, then vacuum the floor again. This is because while staining tac mops the floor, it also leaves fibers and stuff from the cloth.

Be sure to leave the stain to dry for as long as indicated by the tin before putting on the first coat of polyurethane(my recommended finish to go over stain).

I hope this clears a few things up. Not as simple as sand and stain is it? If you have any questions at all please comment!

Refinishing bamboo floors


Another type of flooring that I would thoroughly recommend against staining is bamboo flooring. As we have all heard bamboo isn’t actually a wood. It’s a grass. So when considering refinishing bamboo flooring, we have to ask ourselves whether it would be a good idea to stain the floor or not.

bamboo flooring

Because Bamboo isn’t actually a wood, manufacturers have found it fit to fortify this material with something that will keep it hard while also helping to preserve it. This something is formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a chemical preservative, and is actually banned in many European countries.

Now whether or not formaldehyde is actually what is injected to harden the floor is beside the point. Whatever it is that they have added to harden the bamboo, it’s probably not going to react very well with wood stains, especially not solvent wood stains.

Now if I am honest, I have never stained bamboo flooring. With that said, here is what I suggest; Test. If you can get some sample tins or saches of the stain and apply it to the wood thickly before rubbing it off with the dry cloth and letting it dry, then this would be ideal.

That way you will know for sure if the stain is going to take very well to the “wood.” Actually, this is a great philosophy that you can take to the sanding and refinishing or colouring of any wooden floor. Always get as good an idea as possible about what the final product is going to look like.

Anyways hope that helps, and remember to most assuredly wear a carbon filter mask to make sure that the fumes don’t ruin your lungs.

Happy Campings!

Fitting hardwood floors

Perusing the internet I found this very interesting video on fitting hardwood floors.

In the video they demonstrate (very awkwardly) how to fit wooden floors onto batton. So they are securing the baton to the subfloor first. They then lay chipboard down on top. This gives the floor a little bounce so that its not so hard under foot. They then lay the floor over the top of the chipboard. The floor is tongue and groove and they fit it in a staggered fashion so that the ends of the boards aren’t close to eachother. This makes the floor look a lot better.

Thanks to Topps Tiles for this video

Hope you enjoyed!

Brief overview of the staining process

In case if you are looking to make your hardwood floors beautiful and delightful, staining may be for you. Staining the floor will improve its excellence along with character, by offering a rich smooth look that can add to any home’s interior. If you simply take after these steps, you will be astounded to figure out how simple it is.

When applying stain to your floor, you will require a vacuum, tack fabric, floor stain (with shade of your choice), clean lint free cloths, polyurethane finish fit for your floor, 2 top quality brushes and a roller or sheep’s wool applicator, which is utilized to apply polyurethane.

Step 1: Clean the Floor

The primary step is to check for any dirt, spills or dust on your floor. In the case of spills, you will need to lightly rub them out with a 100 or 120 grit sand paper. Use the vacuum to remove all dust and debris from the floor, be sure to do it slowly to lift the maximum possible. Also vacuum round the edges where the main vacuum may not reach. If necessary dampen the tack fabric and lightly tack mop the floor to get it completely free of dust. If you do tack mop, allow the floor to dry.

Step 2: Apply Stain

The second step is to stain working from one end of the room to the other. Be sure to plan your exit so that once complete you arrive at the door rather than the other side. Start applying the stain thickly with the lint free cloth, brushing round the edges before drying off the excess with a dry lint free cloth.

Don’t allow the stain to remain on the floor for too long as it can result in ghastly marks and defects when dry. Apply thickly then dry off, apply thickly then dry off. Keep doing this until the staining is complete.

Allow to dry for as long as is indicated by your products instructions. This may mean many hours or even overnight. Stain must be dry before applying your finish.
Step 3: Apply Finish

The last step is to apply polyurethane utilizing a sheep’s wool applicator/roller and a smooth brush. Use the brush, in the same way as the stain to cut in around the edges, then use the roller or lambswool applicator to apply the polyurethane on the rest of the floor. Again, work your way towards the exit. When the finish is dry, lightly rub the floor down with a 120grit paper, vacuum and apply a second coat. If you wish to apply more than 2 coats it is recommended that you rub the floor down and vacuum it each time. This way you will end up with the optimum finish.

Soon I will be going into more detail but this is enough for now :)

Welcome to my new blog about restaining hardwood floors

Hello and welcome to my new site about restaining hardwood floors.

There is a lot of information out there about staining and I hope to synthesize it down to easy to digest information that will allow you to quickly make a decision on what route to take with your floors.

This website will hopefully enlighten the newbie DIY enthusiast and even enhance the knowledge of the seasoned staining veterans.

Whatever you make of it, be sure to let me know in the comments. Criticism welcome!