How to Stain a Wood Floor
Assuming your wood floor has been sanded to perfection and is now looking smooth with that ultra-clean and almost bleached look an even floor sanding provides, what’s next? It’s time to think about staining your new wooden floor in a colour of your choosing. But before you start, vacuum thoroughly to rid yourself of residual wood shards and dust. Never apply stain, varnish, oil or any kind of finishing until the floor is as dirt and dust free as you can make it.
If the floor really is well sanded then a coat of stain will give that finishing touch. But for the best effect your floor really does have to be evenly sanded throughout.
Types of stain
There are many varieties of wood stain on the market so your options are wide. Choose from coloured stain, dye and gel stain as well as the ebonising (or darkening) method.
Coloured wood stain – whatever type of wood floor you have, you can change its appearance by the careful application of a coloured wood stain. Most stains on the market are now toxin-free and odourless, but be sure to check first, especially if you have children and/or animals who may be more sensitive to harsh chemicals. You can also attain a unique look to your floor by mixing two stains together. Be sure they are similarly based and compatible first, though.
Wood stain dye – view wood dye as pretty much a permanent colour change for your floor, so before opting for this hard-wearing and durable finish be sure the colour is the one you really want!
Wood stain gel – you may have already used wood gel on exterior decking, but it is also suitable for interior use too. Being oil-based, the gel is a little thicker than other stain formulas and this full-bodied option covers very well and is less likely to spread where you don’t want it to, leaving the amateur floor stainer with more control over the process and the finished look.
Ebonising your floor
Unsurprisingly the word ebonising comes from ebony, so to ebonise a floor is to darken it to the point where it mimics ebony wood. The simplest form of ebonising is undoubtedly painting the floor black, but this will leave a ‘flat’ characterless finish and you will lose the delicate grain and swirls of the wood. It’s far better to use a dark gloss stain, which you can darken by degree without robbing the floor of its intrinsic character.
Before commencing the staining process be sure you have enough time to complete without stopping. If possible try to have someone to help, especially if you’re tackling a large room. It is essential to decide which route you will be taking and be sure that both of you end up at a doorway, or there you’ll quite literally end up painting yourself into a corner – funny on a sit-com but NOT funny in real life!
Wear protective gloves during the staining process and place plastic sheeting on the floor as protection, placing the stain tray on it. Take a paint stain pad, dip it into the stain and work it along the grain of the wood. Be generous with your application but never, ever have the pad so saturated that it drips. Always work lengthwise along the boards, never across. When you arrive at skirting, door jambs, radiators and other obstacles use a brush to get in as close as possible.
The helper should be following your path to wipe away excess stain, once again working along the planks grain-wise. However if you are working alone be sure to backtrack regularly to wipe away any residual stain.
Generally speaking wood stain takes at least 6 – 8 hours to fully dry out, but if you are unsure then it’s best to leave it to dry overnight. At any rate do not place furniture back in the room until the next day.