How to Stain Hardwood Floors Properly

One of the many benefits of real wood flooring is that it can last decades. As with most materials, hardwood flooring will eventually show its age through discoloration, dullness, and scratches, but refinishing can restore your floors to like-new condition again and give you the chance to change the color of your stain. Typically, wood flooring can be sanded and stained up to eight times over its life. After your hardwood floors have been sanded, the staining process doesn’t need to be daunting, but it’s important to do it correctly because many things can go wrong. Unique Flooring, a trusted supplier of hardwood flooring in San Diego, explains the right way to stain wood flooring if you’re planning to tackle the project yourself.

Sand the Floor Carefully
You can rent a floor sander at most home improvement stores. A square sander is usually better than a round sander, as it can reach into corners. With most sanders, you will need to buy a thick sandpaper pad that adheres to the bottom of the sander. A light sanding with 120 grit sandpaper is suitable for new bare wood flooring, but you will need a coarser sandpaper if your floor has several layers of varnish. If you have 2-3 layers of varnish, use 60 grit paper and follow up with 120 grit sandpaper for a smooth, even finish. When you’re done, the wood should have a uniform, soft texture.

Sweep, Vacuum, and Wash the Floor
After sanding, use a broom to sweep away the dust left behind, then go over the floor again with a vacuum to remove excess dust and grit. Finally, wash your floor with a damp—not wet—mop to get rid of the last bits of dust. Do not apply any cleaning products to the floor that could interfere with the stain application. Running a damp mop over the floor also raises the grain and helps the wood better accept the stain. Let the wood floor dry for about 30 minutes before applying the stain.

Apply the Stain
When the floor is dry, dip a rag in your chosen stain and apply to the floor, moving with the grain, not against the grain. Work from one end of the room to the other. Wring out the rag frequently to ensure even coverage without the stain pooling anywhere. Do not rub the stain in place, go over the same spot several times, or move the rag in circular motions.

Remove Excess Stain
Wood floor stain should be applied in 3-foot sections. As you work, wipe away the excess stain with another towel within a few minutes. Allowing the stain to sit too long will cause it to soak unevenly into the wood and appear uneven. The longer the stain soaks into the wood, the darker the result.

Apply a Clear Coat
Allow the stain to dry overnight or according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Once the stain is completely dry, you can brush on a clear coat of polyurethane for a durable and brilliant finish. The clear coat can be applied just like the stain, but you should not remove excess clear coat because it will destroy the gloss finish.

Get in touch with Unique Flooring if you’d like to find out about our refinishing services or the costs on floor installation. San Diego homeowners can stop by our showroom or give us a call at 760-945-0010. We hope to hear from you soon.