Stain Guide

Stain Guide

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Staining Hardwood Floors

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Staining hardwood floors and what you can expect

After watching all the diy or do it yourself shows on staining hardwood floors that television has to offer, a lot of people are under the delusion that staining hardwood is simple. Well, coming from someone who has done it thousands of times, this is the farthest thing from the truth. It takes a lot of skill. Saving money is always at the forefront of any project and when it comes to staining your floors, I am pretty sure it is no exception to the rule.

The first question is the most important, «What kind of expectations to do you have?» If you are expecting better than mediocre results, then stop, call National Floors and hire a qualified pro. The amount of time and energy you will put into just a single room will be more than you initially expected, that I promise. The learning curve is high for refinishing hardwood floors and when you anticipate staining your floors, the level of difficulty will only go up. The sanding process must be done correctly.

The task of staining hardwood floors with dark tones takes years of experience. When grooming a new apprentice, they can be expected to have completed 20-40 floors before they can achieve acceptable professional results. Each and every month, we get calls from not only homeowners, but mostly general contractors who thought they could tackle the task. The problem is, none of these people are C-15 licensed. This is a qualified hardwood flooring contractor who happens to be an expert in the field. Upon showing up to these incompleted jobs, we discover a botchy floor that is not flat and inconsistent in sheen. After reading this, there is always someone who has the what the heck attitude and are going for it anyway.

Without getting into great detail, if you want to stain your hardwood floors, you must first sand them correctly. Most people don’t have any idea of the type of hardwood floor they have, the thickness of the wear layer, whether the floor is solid or engineered. Proper assessment must be made before a floor can be sanded. If you suspect you have engineered hardwood floors, DO NOT sand them. A PRO will typically take off 1/32″, but a JOE will take off much more than that due to lack of know how and the lack of control of the sanding machines. Important, if the wear layer of the engineered floor is thin, you will burn through and this will require patch work or floor repair. If the proper sanding is not achieved, you floors will appear to be blotchy and inconsistent. This sanding process is typically guarded by most contractors due to the fact this is how they make their living. There are as many sanding combinations as there are grits offered by the sand paper company. What’s entertaining is listening to all the great advice the guys who rent equipment have to offer. Sarcasm.

What if you are sanding prefinished flooring? The sanding process «Must» completely remove the old factory prefinished protective coating. Another common blunder by the the diy guy. If you miss an area, what you will find when the time comes to drop the stain is a section of the floor that won’t accept the stain. At this point, you will scramble to rectify the problem before the stain sets up and you are left with a blotchy patch in the floor. Words of advice, inspect, inspect and inspect again.

Sanding hardwood floors requires a few things from you:

  • Proper assessment of your current floor
  • Rental of all the sanding equipment: belt sander, edger, buffer, vacuums-easily over $100.00 per day (The floor must be sanded 4 times, rough to fine for professional results)
  • Purchase of the correct grit sand paper-price depends on how many rooms you plan to work on and the type of finish that is on the current floor.
  • Respirator-about $35.00 for a quality mask
  • Hand tools: scrapers, hammer, nail set, file,- $40-50 if you don’t have any of these
  • Wood putty for unfinished hardwood floor-large 3.5 gallon bucket typically cost $75.00
  • Stain Guide
  • Purchase of over the counter stain-1 quart equates to usually 100 sq feet of coverage at a cost of $20 per quart
  • Purchase of finish-cost is $75.00-100.00 per gallon for descent over the counter product. Never as good as professional products, therefore more coats are required.
  • Applicators for the finish, rags for the staining, mineral spirits for clean up
  • A small DIY, do it yourself refinishing hardwood floors for a 300 sq. ft. project would cost approximately $825.00 and about 4 days of your time.

    There are 3 phases to staining hardwood floors:

    • The correct sanding sequence of hardwood floors-minimum 4 stages from rought to fine
    • The correct staining process of hardwood floors-depending on the color of stain, other steps and preparations may be required.
  • The correct final coating of polyurethane applied to hardwood floors. If you don’t burnish between coats, the floor will delaminate. Improper burnishing will wear through the finish and ruin your work.

    Here is the problem; If one of the processes is executed incorrectly, the entire project will suffer.

    Red Oak and White Oak are stain-able hardwood floors


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