Monday, March 4, 2013

Floors- Part Two

I know all of you have been waiting with bated breath for part two, sorry, I just got back from a quick trip to CA. Here is the link to part one if you haven't read it yet. Unfortunately this post does not have a great ending, but rest assured the third part will be much better! I know, because we are done with the floors in the present day. 

A week after our purple floor problem we decided to bite the bullet and rent the machines again. We only had to re-do the upstairs so the task wasn't super daunting, and we were able to skip the grit 16 and 36 and start at 60 and then do 100. Somehow it still took a day and a half, but it was rewarding to see the stain go away.

If you think I did all the work, think again, while I haven't shown any photos of Aurelien working on the floors he had to use the back bending edger, not something I wanted/could deal with. So, just because you are probably think I'm lying and did all the work (while Aurelien stayed home and watched soccer), I will show you proof of his hard labor.

Looks fun right?

As I was using the drum sander I started to notice little horizontal lines across the wood, but didn't think much of them. We found out later that these lines are called chatter, and happen when the machine isn't properly adjusted. More about this later.

After sanding the upstairs we tested stain on the actual floors in the kitchen, where we were going to put the cabinets; we were learning! We decided on the 2nd from the left stain and the next weekend went to work staining the upstairs. If you remember from the last post, there was a picture of me putting the stain down with a pad attached to a handle. We found out later that is not the best way to apply floor stain so this time one of us wiped the stain on with a rag and the other wiped off the excess off after a minute or two.

Here we are applying the stain, it was darker than the sample section, but still looks nice.

After staining the entire upstairs we left for the day happy to be done and excited to finish the whole process off. To finish it you have to put three to four coats of a top coat; either an oil based polyurethane (super smelly and toxic, but easier to put on) or a water based polyurethane (dries quickly,  is friendly to the environment, but is harder to put on and is more expensive). We had already bought a water based product, but started having doubts if we wanted to risk using it since it's harder to put on.

The next day we came back to the house to check out our stain and started to notice some problem areas. Places that Aurelien had spent a lot of time with the edger machine were shinier, so we had circular shiny areas in the master bedroom and in another room and then the chatter, that I mentioned above, became really dark and obvious once the stain was down. We talked with a floor guy and he told us he hates using stain because of these problems. Stain emphasizes every little imperfection. He actually discourages his clients on putting down stain because even though he has been doing this for 20 years he still can't get a perfect stain job.

So, now we were really discouraged. The problems weren't everywhere, but definitely noticeable  At this point I was upset we didn't just hire someone to do the floors in one week (we were approaching week 5). We thought a bit about whether we wanted to re-do the floors one more time (AHHH!) or just put rugs down. At that point we decided to just leave the floors upstairs for a bit and just put the poly on the downstairs floors without the stain. We decided to use the oil based since we had been told it was easier to apply.

Part three is coming up!


  1. Glad your finished! So, how much did you save... labor excluded ofc not having them done professionally? Good learning experience I appreciate hearing

  2. We never actually had a quote, but I'm thinking we saved at least 4k. Not sure though!

  3. Hello! this posting has been very very helpful! My husband and I just started the process of sanding and staining the floors but are clueless. We sanded down a small area using 100 grit because we weren't sure what number we should be using. We really like your floor color, what stain color is that? Also, you mentioned in your blog you used 60 and then you mean you first used 60 and then after you were done you used 100 again to go over the sanded area before staining?

    Another question, you mentioned how you had to wipe down after you stained, can you explain that further? Did one you stain using a brush while the other was wiping down? and did you have to do that back to back almost immediately?

    How many top coats of stain did you have to use and how long did you have to wait in between the stain jobs?

    Our floors upstairs has tons and tons of staple holes in them so we are going to sand it down and use a wood filler, wait for it to dry, sand it down again, and then apply the stain and then the semi-gloss polyurethane. That's the plan but don't know the details of each step! Any help will be greatly greatly appreciated!

    1. Hi Anju,

      I'm glad we could help!

      We did 4 passes with the sander, starting with 16 grit, then 36, 60 and 100. Our floors were needing some help, if yours aren't as bad I think you could get away with three sandings (36, 60, 100). It's a pain! The stain we ended up using upstairs (the second time) we believe was Varathane's Golden Mahogany. Downstairs we didn't stain at all, and if I were to do it again I wouldn't stain anywhere. The oil-based polyurethane finish we used gave it a nice golden glow and helped hide some imperfections in the wood.

      If you do end up using the stain, here is what we did. One of us applied the stain with a rag and another came right after to wipe off the excess with another rag. We did it back to back, maybe waiting one minute or less. One coat of stain was all we had to do to get the color you see upstairs.

      Regarding the finish, we did three coats and waited 24 hours or so between coats, making sure each was totally dry. One of us applied the top coat with a broom-like brush and the other cut along the wall with a paintbrush. In between each finish coat we also lightly screened the floor with a pole sander and 120 grit paper to leave a smooth finish.

      Let me know if you have any other questions.