Home Improvement: In Vain of Stain

Sep 01, 2010

Home Improvement: In Vain of Stain

For the last couple of weeks, Joy and I have been moving into our new home. Along with the move, we've decided to do our first home-improvement project: restoring wood flooring. Let me just say this off the bat: I never want to do it again unless I'm getting paid.

The flooring in the living room and office (adjacent rooms) was carpeted when we bought the place. The carpet looked fairly old, and either needed to be cleaned or replaced.To avoid that all together, we decided that the first thing we wanted to do was to rip remove the carpet and replace it with hard-flooring.

After pulling back the carpet, I discovered that underneath was fairly decent looking wood floor. It seemed plausible to fix it up and have a fairly nice looking floor. With the help and advice of my uncle (thanks for all the help, David!), we went to work on sanding it down to a nicer-looking wood. Below you can see some of the difference that sanding made (pre-sanded on the edges):

Granted, that picture was taken half-way through the sanding process, so the final result looked better.

After the sanding was finished, we went to work with the staining process. We followed the manufacturer's directions to apply the stain:

Apply in a uniform, thin coat using a high quality, clean polyester or natural bristle brush. Brush in even strokes in the direction of the wood grain.

The process:

After letting the stain sit for a few days, it was still wet and tacky to the touch. What was wrong?

After asking around, we apparently applied the stain wrong. Wrong? But we followed the directions on the can! Yeah, don't do that.

We decided to wipe the floor to see how much stain actually dried decently. Here are the results:

Apparently, when you apply stain you don't brush it on. Instead, you "rub it in". To fix our huge mistake, we had to redo all of the sanding. 6 hours of hard-work later, we were back to the original, sanded wood.

Following the advice of others, we decided to do the "rub it in" method. Here are the results:

Looks awesome. All we have left to do is apply the coats of finish to preserve the wood.

First lesson in home ownership: don't follow the directions on a stain can, ask around for some wisdom first. Trust me, I'll be doing that before I apply the finish.