This is a continuation of the steps listed in Pt2. They say that the quality of your DIY wood floors is only as good as the quality of sanding under it. So if you’ve jumped in without reading the first parts, go back!!
Staining, as my Mother and I found, can be tricky. This picture was taken as the first coat was applied, and the one beneath it shows uneven drying/absorption. While they say it’s important to put down stain and then rub it off, the stain I had contained polyurethane sealant, so I was told not to rub it off.
IMPORTANT: Oil-based stains and varnishes do not dry when its warmer than 75 degrees F and the humidity is more than 80 RH.
Scared by the blotchy-look and having realized (after 16 hours of attempted drying time) that the humidity and temperatures were all wrong, we rented a dehumidifier and got out the paint thinner to wiped the floor with clean rags. In doing so we removed the top coat of stain and varnish that hadn’t soaked into the wood, bringing all the wood back to an equal starting place. They recommend at this point that you re-sand the floor, to rough it up again; we missed this step, but it doesn’t seem to have mattered.
Going forward with three more coats of stain we opted to put it on and wipe it off. Although it’s not what the instructions said, we didn’t want to have any more scary events of uneven drying, and in doing so, found we had more control over the colour distribution in the stain. The three coats allowed for an even sheen to create across the floor.
Here are some things you should consider:
- Be sure you know and understand the product you’re using
- Know how to correctly apply the product you bought
- If your stain also contains sealant/polyeurethane you must achieve an equal distribution of shine across the floor. If you obtain your desired colour ahead of that, simply apply light coats until the shine is consistent.
I recommend taking safety precautions seriously during staining and top coat varnish. From the fumes I experienced sore throat, drowsiness, sore joints, headaches and a nauseous feeling during the staining process (actually in the afternoons/evenings afterwards), and these symptoms plus burning eyes during and after each coat of polyurethane. Buy a more advanced model of the respirator, as I did part way along. By the time your project is done you’ll feel like the smell and fumes are permeating your whole house. If that’s the case, you’d best be prepared to spend some time elsewhere and protect yourself while at home.
Applying polyurethane with a lambswool applicator is quite straight forward. I used Minwax Polyeurethane, for more information see www.minwax.ca. Watch careful that any seams of where you put down your pad are not obvious. It’s best to pull the pad all the way across the floor with the grain to avoid these marks. Start in an innocuous area where you know there will be a couch or a rug. That way you can learn and go from there.
I did four coats of polyurethane, as recommended by a friend/professional hardwood refinisher who I had come in part way through the staining process. The first coat was light, second medium thickness, then once dried, sanded lightly and vacuumed, it was ok to put down a third and fourth coat.
As you can see, I opted for non-traditional foot gear while completing the project. I didn’t want to leave the marks of five little toes or the tracks of running shoes on the nicely finished surface, so my mother and I donned plastic bags for each coat of stain and polyurethane, to keep everything nicely protected.
It’s recommended that you leave the room alone entirely for 72 hours after the job is done. Also some people report that they could still sense the effect of the off-gasing for weeks afterwards, so to be safe I left the well enough alone for a full week before putting the room back together.
I will post finalized pictures once the furniture and area rug are all present, but for now, this is the end of my story.
If you choose to do your own hardwood, just know that it’s not as daunting as they make it out to be. You just have to have researched well, be careful, systematic, and patient. With that, in the long run it can save you a lot of money compared to hiring someone.