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I had my red oak floors refinished and stained to a dark Jacobean color with Dura- Seal stain and three coats of water based poly. The result did not turn out so great. I have a bunch of blotches in color and lines in the stain from what I believe to be the sanding.

Some of the pictures make it look worse than it actually is. I know it's really hard to tell colors and all from pictures, but what do you guys think went wrong and any chance of fixing it?

I'm hesitant to let the contractor touch the floors again.

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Thanks for the comments guys. I'm disappointed to say the least. I like to do everything I can myself on my own home, but have no experience with refinishing floors so left this one to the pros. I paid a floor guy good money to do this. He was a referral from another contractor I know well. I did inspect the floors when the stain was down and did not see these lines and blotches until the poly was down.

The floor guy is coming out to "make it right" tomorrow, but if these are stop marks from the sander I don't think this can be fixed without starting over. Maybe some screening or buffing may help????

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The installer failed to adequately screen the floor after the drum sanding. It's just like any other kind of wood finishing. You can't skip steps.

At this point, my guess is that anything short of new drum sanding will just make it look worse.

And of course, if the floor has been sanded a couple times already, you run the risk of getting down to the tongue & grooves with another sanding.

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I agree that it looks like mainly a sanding problem. Differences in the way the wood accepts stain at areas that were drum sanded versus orbital sanded. At one area it looks like the contractor stopped the drum sander at the middle of the room, or did not wipe off the stain.

I also think that getting good results with a very dark stain can be a bit tricky.

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From the book I used as a guide when I built my home in 1988. I found it posted here:

http://soilandhealth.org/wp-content/upl ... YEHtoc.htm

"...Stain, another cosmetic treatment, is not as versatile as paint. It can change brilliance in only one direction; darker. You can change your mind and scrape paint off if you want to work hard enough. Stain is there to stay. Depending on how you feel about it, this can be a virtue or a fault. Once you have painted something, repainting is just around the corner, but you don't have to keep re-staining..."

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Rob,

In my search for what went wrong I have looked at more pictures of Jacobean than I would care too. You're correct, this particular stain and most dark colors for that matter are a pain.

Jim, That book sounds like a trip! I will be reading it soon. Thank you for the reference!

An update and what I have learned:

The floor guy should be very experienced not only with a sander, but also how the stain is applied, and of course like anything else the prep work. In this case water popping was the key!

All and all the sanding was pretty good actually, just not for the dark stain. The sanding was 36, 60, 80 which just proved to be too fine for the dark stain. Originally my floor guy used a carpet pad on a buffer to install the stain with a helper edging by hand. This was also another mistake. Hand staining proved to be the best method.

The process has been painful because the floor guy while sticking it out, didn't have the experience to solve the problem and kept blaming the floor! He tried sanding and different staining techniques, but it didn't fix the problems in most areas. He was able to get one of the bedrooms to look "good enough" and the laundry room looks pretty good with better sanding, hand staining and no water popping.

After a lot of reading as Rob alerted to, the Jacobean usually results in a very blotchy stain. To combat this water popping is the best method. It not only opens the pores in the wood to accept the stain more evenly, it hides the sanding marks (the lines we were seeing) as well.

With a few of the rooms still looking like crap I decided to try the water popping. After another sanding back to 80, the floor was very smooth to the touch. We applied distilled water very lightly to the floor and after about 2 hours the floor was dry and very gritty and almost furry feeling. The stain took like a champ and produced a great look without blotches and without lines.

The floor guy is now redoing the third bedroom and maybe the entire living room and kitchen!

Thanks for the help. I will post some before and after pictures once we get everything finished.

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. . . We applied distilled water very lightly to the floor and after about 2 hours the floor was dry and very gritty and almost furry feeling. The stain took like a champ and produced a great look without blotches and without lines. . . .

So at that point, you had a gritty, furry floor that was well stained. How did you knock down the furry fibers without removing the stain? Or did you apply the first coat of finish and then screen it smooth?

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. . . We applied distilled water very lightly to the floor and after about 2 hours the floor was dry and very gritty and almost furry feeling. The stain took like a champ and produced a great look without blotches and without lines. . . .

So at that point, you had a gritty, furry floor that was well stained. How did you knock down the furry fibers without removing the stain? Or did you apply the first coat of finish and then screen it smooth?

Jim,

Sorry for the confusion. We water popped the floor after the floor guy resanded the messed up floor back down to raw wood using 80 grit.

After two hours the floor was dry and was stained. He will buff and poly the floor should be smooth.

The water popping creates the rough furry wood letting it accept the stain more evenly. It worked great as for how well the stain took and looks.

I think I understand your concern that maybe the furry feeling be able to be felt through the floor. I'll keep you updated.

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. . . He will buff and poly the floor should be smooth.

The water popping creates the rough furry wood letting it accept the stain more evenly. It worked great as for how well the stain took and looks.

I think I understand your concern that maybe the furry feeling be able to be felt through the floor. I'll keep you updated.

I used to use the "water popping" technique (though I never heard that term applied to it) when finishing pieces of furniture, though not to prep for stain. I'd do it to achieve a flawlessly smooth surface. I'd repeatedly raise the "fur" and sand it down again with fresh sharp sandpaper until no more fur would come up. It made for an impeccably smooth surface.

With stain, I'd be concerned that even a light buffing with steel wool or scotch brite would remove some of the stain, leaving light spots. Let us know how it works out.

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. . . He will buff and poly the floor should be smooth.

The water popping creates the rough furry wood letting it accept the stain more evenly. It worked great as for how well the stain took and looks.

I think I understand your concern that maybe the furry feeling be able to be felt through the floor. I'll keep you updated.

I used to use the "water popping" technique (though I never heard that term applied to it) when finishing pieces of furniture, though not to prep for stain. I'd do it to achieve a flawlessly smooth surface. I'd repeatedly raise the "fur" and sand it down again with fresh sharp sandpaper until no more fur would come up. It made for an impeccably smooth surface.

With stain, I'd be concerned that even a light buffing with steel wool or scotch brite would remove some of the stain, leaving light spots. Let us know how it works out.

Never heard the term water popping, but raising the grain or nap is a common step in creating a glass smooth finish with cabinets or furniture. I use sanding sealer to raise the grain and a 320 grit for the final sanding.

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