When Staining Goes Wrong

Ugh. I was dreading writing this post for the last 2 days because I'm still very annoyed and distraught about our floors. We've spent the past 2 weeks doing every little thing along the way to get our floors ready to stain, and finally, mid-day on Sunday we were ready to stain!

Before we started staining we thought about 2 things.

1) Should we pre-condition the floor? We did this when we stained the kitchen floor, but when I tested the stain this time around when we changed colors and brands I didn't pre-condition the sample and the coverage was great. Plus, when we went outside to look at the pre-conditioner it said to use water-based stain next, and our stain is oil-based. So....well, we didn't pre-condition.

2) To sponge clean or not to sponge clean? After sweeping, vacuuming and tack-clothing, the floor was pretty damn clean, but we wondered if we should use a really really really really lightly damp sponge and wipe clean the whole floor and then come back at it with the screen and knock down the raised grain. And then tack-cloth again. We were really close to doing this, but out of shear laziness I made the executive call and voted no, that the floors were clean enough (though we had cleaned here and there with sponges in the days prior here and there).

So we tested the stain. We started in a small area where our hutch would eventually cover it if things didn't go according to plan

It looked pretty, amazing, and wonderful, so we excitedly pressed on. We each started on separate ends of the room and used lint-free rags and really pressed and rubbed the stain in (per MacBeath's instructions). We applied about 10-20 sq. ft. at a time and then went back and wiped away the excess stain.

It all started off great. Both of us were really excited about how well the stain was going in (it really is so much richer than Varathane) and we loved the color. But after a little bit we started noticing that anywhere we had accidentally dropped a spot of water or spot cleaned with water days earlier the floor was taking it a lot more because the grain was more open. Oh shit.

I don't have any pictures of the progress because, well, our hands were covered in stain, but after the 90 minutes or so it took to get the whole room done we stood back and were really disappointed

In addition, the areas where there were previously stains (maybe animal urine from previous owner's pets?), the floor now looked really really splotchy. We were hoping that because the color we were using was darker that it would help to cover them up

I was totally upset and mad at myself. All along the way we had taken every single step to make sure that we were prepping the floors properly for stain and at the LAST SECOND we got lazy and we didn't do the final step to ensure that stain would have gone on even. I wasn't as frustrated for not using the pre-conditioner, but because we had spot cleaned with the sponge it had opened up the grain in certain areas and therefor made the stain spotty. When you run your hands over the wood you can feel the grain in the sponged areas and we really should have sponge cleaned everything (then screened, then used the tack cloth), but we were just too excited to finally be at the point where we were staining.


Now, three days later the stain is still uneven and splotchy because of the existing stains and sponged areas

Besides those areas we really love the stain: the color, the saturation and the quality, which makes me even more disappointed in the short cut.


The hopefully good news is that we've brainstormed some ideas to try and even things out and we're hoping in the next couple of days we can get some work done to try to make things look better. If not, I can at least know that a large portion of the floors will be covered with 2 rugs, so maybe we can just cover all of it...

Sigh. Again.


Deb said...

Aw - I'm so sorry - After all that hard work it sucks to not be happy with the end result :( I have faith that you will figure out a way to even out the stain and make it exactly as you want it!

Heather said...

Oh god, I'm so sorry! That really sucks. If I lived nearby I would deliver some beer to you right now.

For what it's worth, I don't think it's going to be that noticeable. I know that doesn't help when you've been in sanding hell for two weeks, but . . .

Katy @ Turtle House said...

I'm in with Heather on supplying you with some beers! I also agree with her that this will not be NEARLY as noticeable to anyone else. I know that doesn't really help, though, and it totally sucks to have disappointing results after such hard work. Hugs.

Reuben Collins said...

Darn. I'm sorry. We also had old pet stains on our floor when we refinished. We just decided to go with a darker stain to cover them.It worked, but of course then the floors were much darker than we wanted. Good luck!

Robin @ 3 acres & 3,000 sf said...

Oh man that really stinks! Staining the hardwood floors makes me nervous too. It's such a big area of the room and so many things can go wrong. Is a second coat and option or will that be too dark? Is giving it a light resanding out the window? I'm taking notes because in a couple months we'll be staining 700 sf of hardwood.

meryl rose said...

Thanks for all of the support everyone!!! Blogging friends always know what to say :)

Robin - A second coat will be what we'll go with to try and even things out (we'll try some extra sanding in certain areas too). I'm planning on doing a rundown post of what we'd do differently, what we did that worked, and what you should AVOID when we're done. Hopefully talking about our mistakes helps other people out!