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Floor Sanding Advice For Stain Application
You want a beautiful and smooth wooden floor with its character and feel to it? Why not stain it and add whitewash, grey, or dark chocolate shade to it to contrast with your white leather sofa and light furniture?
Floor sanding and stripping must be performed carefully and professionally. You do it in two ways. By using a wood dye, also known as a stain, which is a coloured substance suspended in a solvent and capable of soaking into the wood itself. Then there are also the pigmented finishes which combine the protection offered by a regular finish with the change of colour offered by the dye.
Sanding and Staining
Stains have one property which can be an advantage or a disadvantage depending on how you look at it. They tend to make small imperfections or damaged parts of the grain look far more noticeable. This means that the staining is only a good idea if the floor has received professional treatment and is perfectly smooth.
As you probably know, the sanding has three stages – rough, medium and fine. The way you handle the fine sanding and the buffing that follows it will determine the way the stain will look. Also, for a quality job, you must use a belt sander instead of the cheaper drum sander because the latter is far clumsier while offering much less control over the job.
Once the medium sanding is complete, it is recommended to fill the gaps between the boards. Of course, this isn’t mandatory but it certainly improves the appearance of the stained wood. After all, It is all about looks, isn’t it?
The type of abrasive you must use for the final sanding depends on the type of floor you have. A pine, for example, can get burned with a grit finer than P80 while oak, on the hand, is better off with a P100. You must get a feeling how much the wood can take and this knowledge can only be truly acquired through your personal experience.
Buffing a Wooden Floor
Buffing is a process where you use a finishing sander (like a random orbital sander or a buffing machine) to make your floor appear smooth. This step is normally skippable but as we have explained earlier, the stain will highlight any flaws in the grain. It is either everything or nothing. Why do things halfway?
It is vital to vacuum the floor thoroughly between each sanding pass and especially after the buffing is completed. Sawdust has abrasive properties and will scratch the wood if given the opportunity. It must be removed before stain application for obvious reasons.
We highly recommend the use of professional buffing equipment like the Lagler Trio or Bona FlexiSand which provide outstanding results. We often employ them when buffing parquets with a great deal of success.
Staining Like an Expert
The typical staining procedure is rather simple. You need a stain, a bucket in which to mix it, a brush and a decorator rag. Besides, you may want to use a dust mask to block the fumes coming from the stain as well as a pair of latex gloves.
So, you have a freshly sanded floor ready for staining. Now, equip the gloves and the mask, take the cans holding the stains, shake them and pour them into the bucket. Once you begin, you have to complete the task at once. If something goes wrong, you have to completely re-sand the surface and there is no way to spot repair.
Start from one of the corners of the room and continue along its edges with a consistent speed. Try to follow the grain with each stroke of the brush. Any excess stain must be wiped off quickly with the rag before it had time to dry. Make sure to leave yourself a way to retreat from the room without surrounding yourself in an “island” among a “sea” of stain. While you must work fast, this is not a mechanically hard task.
A Few Useful Tips
A poorly applied stain can ruin your wooden floor, making it look patchy, cheaply-painted or even dirty. Here is some floor staining advice you should consider before attempting to do this on your own:
- Beware that not all kinds of wood absorb the stains equally. Maple, for example, has a close-pored cellular structure which makes staining exceedingly difficult. Other stains, like grey and whitewashed, are light in colour. Because of this, they are likely to be affected by the original shade of the wood itself and acquire specific tint which may not always be what you had in mind. Don’t be fooled by samples, the only way to make sure how the stain will look is to call a professional to demonstrate the result on your own freshly sanded surface.
- No, you cannot apply a stain with the finish on. The old finish must first be removed to apply the stain.
While not technically required, gap-filling and buffing will significantly improve the appearance of the floor.
- Always buy a bit more stain than you think you may need because otherwise you likely won’t have enough to cover everything. If you are unable to complete the job in one fell swoop, the chances are that the floor has to be re-sanded and re-stained all over again. Needless to say, it would be a big waste of time, money and energy.
- Make sure that during work, you won’t be interrupted by anything. Staining must be performed quickly and efficiently to truly look good.
- Don’t be scared of splashes and streamlets. However, they must be wiped fast and you should try to prevent their appearance if possible. Make sure the stain is distributed evenly and consistently.