There is more to staining a wood floor than picking a colour, whacking it down on the floor, applying the finish over it and Hey Presto -everyone’s happy. If only is were as straightforward as that. Find out what’s involved in staining a wood floor. To be honest to do full justice to this subject would require time well outside the scope of this article but let’s keep it as simple as possible.
Solvent Based Wood Floor Stains
First the stains themselves, the most common type in use on these shores are straight forward solvent based products that give reasonable colour depth, are fast drying, will work with just about any floor finish ( if dealt with properly) and have a huge range of colours. The disadvantages here are bleed back and of course, environmental issues due to the solvent “carrier”.
Water Based Wood Floor Stains
Less popular but just around the corner are the water based colours which of course have far fewer environmental issues but also have fewer colour choices, a longer period before over coating and of course issues with grain raising. The new kids on the block are the catalysed oil products which solve the time issue (to a degree) and being solvent free are the most environmentally friendly, however they are new and therefore pricey.
Factors to Consider when Staining a Wood Floor
The truth is the products are not really the problem, they all work if handled correctly. The problems basically come down to these points.
1) Light – Tricky bugger this fellow, a colour under shop lighting is different from the same colour under strong natural light, or shady areas for that matter.
2) The wood – many people think wood is wood, if it looks good on this piece of oak it’s going to look the same on their old pine floor. Sorry, all timbers accept stains differently and light coloured timbers will look lighter than darker ones, even after staining. Oak is the very best timber for staining and pine one of the worst.
3) The sanding – The smoother you sand the wood, the more you close the grain, the lighter the colour will be, in addition a rotary action will leave a different scratch pattern and level of smoothness than a drum action, hence the “picture framing” you see on some stained floors.
4) The sanding – no I’m not losing it (some would disagree), it’s still sanding related but needs to be mentioned separately. Sanding scratches that are invisible to the eye under natural lacquered finishes start to say hello with oils and are positively hurling abuse at you when you start to stain.
Ok so now having scared the living bejaysus out of you, how do you deal with the problems?
Best Practise for Wood Floor Staining
1) Managing expectations – If the wood floor has to be the exact shade of some particular item, it will need to be colour matched, which is possible. However, once applied to the floor (bearing in mind all the points above), even if it matches exactly in some places it isn’t going to look exactly the same everywhere in the room, it isn’t possible (light being the factor here, the other issues you can mitigate)
2) Sanding to a high standard – this is why you want to hire an expert floor sanding professional if you are planning to stain your floor.
4) Water popping – Wetting the floor will open the pores and allow more stain to penetrate, because it swells the fibres it helps eliminate some scratches and on some timbers helps you see scratches so you can remove them before staining.
5) Rag or buff off – Some people don’t realise that you don’t just put the stain on, let it dry and then finish the floor. Applying the stain with brush or roller, giving it time to penetrate and then removing excess with absorbent, lint free cloths are key steps to a great finish.
So if you are planning to stain your wood floor, be sure and find a professional floor finishing expert to do the job. Ask for references and examples of other wood floor staining projects. Don’t hesitate to contact us to find your local wood floor staining expert. FREEPHONE 0333 93 901 93