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Thread: Splotchy Refinish on Hardwood Floor

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Seguin, Ont.
    Real Name

    Default Splotchy Refinish on Hardwood Floor

    Hello everyone, I posted this on another website as well, but I was hoping to bounce these thoughts off of you guys as well.

    I've been helping a buddy refinish his hardwood floor and we've run into a problem. The floor is maple, over a hundred years old. It's been sanded down and refinished at least 3 times before, but there's still lots of thickness left (that old wood you know!). We sanded the snot out of that floor, and thought it was all good and down to bare wood, but when I put a coat of light stain (minwax cherry) on today the result was very splotchy, with lighter patches all over the place, like you sometimes get with pine! Needless to say we're very disappointed. We can only assume that with all the different finishes and chemicals that have been applied to this floor over the last century there is simply more build up and residue in some places than in others, causes uneven acceptance of the stain, right? And yet when we sanded we could have sworn that it was all right down and perfectly clean - in other words, "just sand harder" can't be the answer, because it really was all sanded good, and there's no way to tell when sanded what will end up a light part and what will end up a dark.
    So my thought now is to sand off the stain I put on today and then put a coat of that pre-stain wood conditioner that you often use for splotchy woods like pine. I've never used that stuff before, but I hear it is basically a really thinned-down varnish that makes a light, uniform seal over the entire wood, thereby giving an even surface to accept stain without splotchiness, do I have that right?
    So what do you think of that, does it sound like we're barking up the right tree?


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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Strathroy, ON


    Quote Originally Posted by callee View Post
    So what do you think of that, does it sound like we're barking up the right tree?
    using a prestain conditioner will help, maple can be quite splotchy without it. i've not had much luck with the prestain conditioner myself, but i've used the waterbased shellac from target coatings with very good success. and i've also used a thinned down glue/water mix, glue size, with very good success. i couldn't find decent proportions on the 'net, but i found 5% glue worked well for me. the maple stained virtually perfectly.

    even a thinned down coat of shellac then lightly sanded should help with the splotching.

    lightly sand after either option, before staining.

    hope this helps,


  4. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2006


    Dampen the floor with water then use a comercial water based floor stain. It will come out perfect. My refinisher uses this technique often for closed grain woods.


  5. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007

    Default What Paul said

    You are having trouble using an oil based stain on a closed grain wood - maple. This is tricky at the best of times because there are not that many surface imperfections to retain the pigments in the stain. Would does not readily take on oil as it does water either. Go with the water based stain that Paul describes and you'll be off to the races. This product has a high dye content if I recall correctly.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Northern Kentucky, USA


    In addition.... Floors, like our projects, can become contamidated by simply walking on them after they are sanded. foot prints from (oil on the garage floor, soap residue from the last carpet cleaning, wax on the other floors, body oils from the dog, etc) the bottoms of your feet (shoes), wear those paper booties (my refinisher's trick) like Drs and Service Tecks do. Will help you with your splotching.

    Also the other color solutions are correct as well.
    Bill "Hickory" Simpson

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