Wood floors are known for their elegance and aesthetic appeal. With the wide array of wood species, floor designs and treatment options like stains that are available, each surface gets to bring its characteristic charm to the interior space. No doubt you want the flooring in your residential or commercial establishment meet your taste, especially after you’ve spent loads of capital on getting the installation done. The end result of the flooring depends on how the finishing is carried out. This is an in-depth process, from the staining to the lacquering and top-coat applications. For now, we’ll focus on the staining part of process, breaking it down in a few simple steps to make it a breeze.
- Preparing the surface Here, you want to ensure the floor is ready to receive the stain. First on your to-do list is getting rid of blemishes and defects. This ranges from nail holes, cracks in the flooring, scratches left behind by the claws of your furry friend, all through to gouges that may have been dug into the surface as furniture was being dragged on it. Use wood putty or filler, that takes up the characteristics like the colouration of the adjacent floor boards. That way you won’t have unsightly patches to worry about later on.
The surface also needs to be smooth, and the wood pores opened up. This will enables the stain to be evenly absorbed. That’s where sanding come in. You can use belt, planetary and edge sanders, or even sand by hand. It depends on the current condition of the floor and also the size of the area you’re working on. Remember to follow the appropriate grit sequence, starting from coarse to fine. Vacuum the floor in between the sanding passes to assess its condition, and also when you’re finished. Follow the direction of the wood grain for the final sanding.
Next is the cleaning. Any dust and debris should be removed from the surface of the floor. You don’t want them sticking under the wood stain. Soft cotton cloths are recommended for the cleaning. Do not use all-purpose cleaning products and soap , as they contain chemicals that can interfere with the staining that is to follow, or even damage the wood itself. Use plain water and specialised wood cleaning products for getting rid of those stubborn stains. The end result here is a wood floor that has been stripped down to its natural state, and without any grime and impurities on it.
- Conditioning the floor This stage is to allow for better absorption of the wood stain.
- Apply a base coat the wood conditioner that is appropriate for your flooring. You can use a tool like a paintbrush to apply it around the perimeter of the room, then a synthetic applicator to spread it across the rest of the floor.
- Allow 2 hours drying time, or the specific dwell time dictated on the product label. Alternatively, you can use the “water popping” method. Here, you run a wet cloth or mop over the floor, in order to raise the grain. Allow 30 minutes drying time. Do not soak the wood in water. Note that it’s very porous at this time and excessive moisture can lead to water damage. Ensure that the mop or cloth that is used is thoroughly wringed out.
- Grab your preferred wood stain and applicator tools. Anything from brushes and sponges, to rugs and lambswool applicators will work, as long as they don’t lead to wastage, and doesn’t strain your back. Stir the wood stain in its container.
- Perform a spot test on a small area of the floor, to ascertain that it’s compatible with the surface, and that the colouration is as you desire.
- Apply the wood stain in a uniform layer, according to the instructions on its product label, working it into the wood. The final stroke should follow the direction of the wood grain.
- Allow appropriate dwell time according to the product’s instructions. This will enable the stain to penetrate into the wood. This usually takes 5 to 10 minutes. The longer you allow the stain to soak into the wood, the deeper the darkness that is achieved of the final product.
- Wipe of the excess stain, remembering to follow the direction of the grain. In case you want a darker hue, add an additional coat with the same procedure.
- Allow to dry completely, until the stain no longer has a tacky feel.
- Apply the desired top coat, such as a water-based polyurethane. For this, use a clean set of tools. Remember to stir, but not to shake the finish product. Shaking causes bubbles to form.
- Allow 2 hours drying time. You can also add an extra coat.
Tips for Staining Wood Floors
- Ensure that there is proper ventilation in the area being worked on.
- The vacuuming should be very thorough to removal all the sanding dust that is generated. Note that the sanding itself can be a very laborious and messy process, especially with low-grade equipment, and when there is an existing layer of finish that is to be removed. Issues like finding proper equipment, quality sandpaper and the grit sequence to follow, plus the risks that come with operating the machinery on your floor all factor in. This is why it’s recommended that you get professional sanding services.
- When applying the coats, use thin layers.
- For the spot test, perform into on an inconspicuous area, or you can even use a piece of wood of the same species as the floor.
- In case you’re using a rug or sponge for the application, frequently wring it out to ensure even coverage, and to prevent the stain from pooling on the floor.
- Always plan your method of approach. After all, you don’t want to trap yourself into a corner. It’s recommended that you start from the furthest wall, working your way towards the door.
- When it comes to the drying time, stick to the length shown in the instructions. However, note that additional factors such as increased humidity, lower temperatures and poor ventilation can increase the drying time, hence you should adjust accordingly.
- The bristles of the brushes used should be flexible. In case you’re applying an oil-based wood stain, only use natural-bristled brushes.
- Take the proper safety precautions, from wearing gloves to having respirator masks.
Stain Your Wood Floor Like A Pro