problem staining oak floor - can't get it dark enough

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  #1  
Old 07-17-13, 12:54 PM
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problem staining oak floor - can't get it dark enough

Hi guys,

I have oak wood floor, probably red oak. And the stain is Sherwin Willams Wood Classic oil stain, mixed by the store manager to my liking. (not ideal yet, but acceptable in color) Color is pretty dark brown, although the stain itself looks grayish.

I recently hired a guy to sand and stain my floor, He finished sanding it down, with 80/120 and maybe 200 i believe. He mentioned he was going to use damped cloth to pop the grain, but I didn't see that myself. He probably did it while I was away.

He then started applying the stain. He used two different methods to see which one I like more:
1. the traditional way, use a cloth to wipe the stain on, sit for 10-15min, wipe all the excess off. Waited a full day, applied 2nd coat just because first one was too light. (See pic#1)
2. used a sponge, evenly wipe the stain on, does NOT wipe off. (See pic #2)

the problem I see with #1 is that after he wipes the stain off, the dark color sort of comes off. (See picture 1). What I don't understand is, do all stain do the same thing? Not sticking to wood very well after wiped off? I really don't like to see the natural wood color in my floor, that's why I want to stain it. With this stain, It almost feels like it pops the grain, but leaves only a little bit of black/brown on the rest of the wood. Is there a way to uniformly darkens the whole piece of wood instead of just popping the grain?

Problem with #2 is of course the unevenness (blotches?) And feels like he'd easily mess it up. It's not the traditional way anyways.... But if that's my only solution, will wood conditioner help?

Thanks in advance for helping!!
 
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  #2  
Old 07-17-13, 02:51 PM
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Welcome to the forums!

Interior stains are meant to be applied in one coat with the excess wiped off. Stains aren't like other coatings and dry more by absorption than chemically like other types of coatings. The problem with not wiping or applying multiple coats of stain is when you go to apply the poly - the poly will rewet the stain and may remove it in some places and deposit it in others

Wood conditioner is normally just used on soft woods. It partially seals the wood so the soft areas will take the stain at about the same rate as the harder areas of wood. Wood conditioner always makes the stain lighter in color than it would be had the conditioner not been used.

IMO using 220 grit before stain is to fine of a grit as it tends to 'polish' the wood and close the pores up. Water will open the grain back up although it is a method I've never used.
 
  #3  
Old 07-17-13, 03:06 PM
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Thank you for replying!

Not-wiping-off-the-excess method is most definitely a no-go then.....

Maybe I'll ask him to try to wet the floor right before he stain....
If that doesn't work, I'll ask him to resand a small section with 120 grit (Or is there other better number??), clean, wet, then stain, see how that goes....
(I'm not even sure if he really used 200/220 grit at all....)

If I switch to water based stain, will it get any better??
 
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Old 07-17-13, 06:20 PM
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Unless you use a super dark stain your not going to hide the grain in an oak floor.
That's the whole idea of using oak flooring, to see the natural grain in the wood.
 
  #5  
Old 07-17-13, 11:50 PM
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nonono, I don't want to hide the grain.... having some grain is good.
But I really don't want the wood color to be THAT obvious....
Plus, the color I picked seemed to be a pretty dark stain already... hmmm

Will water based stain do any better?
Or should I just go pick up the darkest color stain they have....?
 
  #6  
Old 07-18-13, 03:42 AM
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A water based stain might work better for what you want. I rarely use interior waterbased stains as they can be a royal pain to work with - dries quicker, less forgiving. It's always better to use a darker stain than to try and get the wood darker by applying more stain. As long as there is no cross sanding [all sanding should be done with the direction of the grain] 120-150 grit is fine before applying the stain.
 
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Old 07-18-13, 09:19 AM
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What would be a good brand for water based stain??
Just called 4 different Sherwin William stores in my area (San Diego), none of them has water based..... I thought they own Minwax.....
Is Minwax a good one to start with??
 
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Old 07-18-13, 02:16 PM
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I've had good results with MInwax's oil base stains but I think the only time I've used any of their water based stains was with one of the funky pastel colors it can be gotten in. Like I said before, I don't use water based stains so I'm not real familiar with them. Before you buy any, read the label and make sure it can be used on floors, then just buy a quart and see if it will do the job you want.
 
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Old 07-18-13, 03:56 PM
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Just went to Home Depot to mix some minwax water based stain. I realized white tints penetrates the wood better than black. The classic black (black and some brown) leaves a lot of wood color. Adding just 20 white made it navy ship gray, and penetrates the wood better. But now the grains are covered..... Doesn anyone know if oil based stain is like that too, where certain color would penetrate better than the others.
 
  #10  
Old 07-19-13, 03:14 AM
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For the most part, the more pigment, the more the grain is obscured. Some pigments by their nature cover more than others, some will dry faster/slower than others. Other than the drying differences the absorption rate is fairly constant.

Latex and waterbased coatings dry quicker than oil base which means oil base can have more time to seep deeper into the wood. With all things being equal, I'd expect the oil stain to show more grain than the same color in water based.
 
  #11  
Old 07-19-13, 04:18 AM
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Just googled woodworkers stores San Diego and found several. They usually have a good selection of stains and know how to apply.
 
  #12  
Old 03-12-14, 04:05 PM
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I came up with a solution...

Although this is an older thread, I thought I'd share a solution I came up with for future DIYers who might be stumped. I spent many hours googling, looking for an answer, and I couldn't find one that worked. I am staining yellow pine stair treads that are a little beat up, oak rails and trim, and maple newel posts. I needed something super dark that didn't show much grain so all these woods would blend.

After several coats of stain (Minwax Espresso) it just wasn't happening. I had recently painted our brick fireplace a very dark brown (Behr in Dark Cavern) so I decided to try a paint wash over top of the stain. It worked like a charm! Using a slightly damp (and I mean slightly) rag I dipped it into some paint. Then I just wiped it on. Simple! It was pretty easy to wipe on without leaving streaks. (You only need a little.) You can do a second coat if you'd like it even darker. Even if it looks slightly streaky when wet, it will be very hard to see when dry. Then, just poly over it all. Make sure it has plenty of time to cure first, though.

Here is a photo showing the difference. The top two are oak. The left had been stained twice, the right only once. The bottom is the pine tread which was also stained twice.

I'll post a final photo when we're all done.
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Here is the paint color I used:
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  #13  
Old 03-27-14, 10:59 AM
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Update after poly...

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So here is the pine tread with one coat of Minwax Espresso, one coat of latex paint wash, and one coat of Minwax Polycrylic. I still have several more coats of poly but we've been walking on it for a week and the finish is unchanged. I was a little worried the mix of oil stain and latex wouldn't mesh but they did, beautifully! You can still see the grain but it is quite dark, just as I wanted it. Next up: newel posts.
 
  #14  
Old 04-01-14, 12:31 AM
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Your stairs turned out great. Thanks for the tip!
 
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