Friday, March 26, 2010

Pop it like it's hot

When we were preparing the floor for refinishing, I knew we were going to have a hard time getting such a dark stain to go down evenly on the light oak floors.  So, I did a little experiment with a technique called 'popping the grain'.  It involves evenly wiping down a newly sanded floor with a damp rag and letting it dry fully before staining.  It opens the wood grain to allow the stain to more deeply penetrate the wood.  To test the theory, I bought myself a cheap pine board from Home Depot's scrap pile.
I sanded it well and taped it down the middle, using a damp rag on the right side only.
After waiting for it to dry, I whipped out the stairway stain we were planning to use on the upstairs floors:
This color is amazing.  Until this came out, so many online message boards were filled with people trying to 'create' an espresso stain.  People were mixing minwax Jacobean and Walnut, Ebony and Jacobean, etc.  This is one-stop shopping for the perfect shade.  Just don't be scared that it looks BLACK on the rag!
And here is the end result after one coat of stain:
The water-popping really worked well to help the stain absorb more fully.  And this is just soft pine, so I knew it would look even better on our oak floors.  Here is Shaun 'popping' the floor, his drawers were also doing a bit of 'popping', so you can thank me for not showing that angle!  
 
We let the floors dry overnight and put down our first coat of stain the next morning.  The stain had to go on in stages.  We used a lambswool applicator to put down a thick layer of stain on 1 foot sections, and then went to the next room to do the same, giving each area about 8 minutes to soak into the wood.  It looked like this:
After the allotted time of 8 minutes (this is a highly scientific measurement.  Just kidding, I don't do anything scientific.  Unless you count me trying to cook things) we would go back and work the stain into the wood either in circles or simply against the grain, like so:
And then I would come in afterwards and smooth everything out with the grain.
And so it went...
Until the entire first coat was complete.  We weren't happy with the first coat, though.  Because of the age of the wood and various water issues, we had quite a bit of splotchiness.
We also found some spots where the old poly had not been completely sanded off, which meant a light stripe was showing through where the stain didn't absorb.  We ended up doing this to take care of the problem:
Resanding those areas wasn't ideal, but it helped to eliminate that tiger-striped look.  After the second coat, things were looking better.
Because a second coat of stain doesn't absorb as easily as the first, we waited a full 48 hours to walk on it or apply the poly.  Many experts say that you should never do a second coat of stain, because the wood has already absorbed as much as it can.  However, if you allow enough drying time, you can successfully apply a second coat.  Next week I will share the 'poly' and 'after' pictures! 

26 comments:

Danielle and Clint said...

Great tip for fixing the areas that would take stain well! They are looking good!

oneluckycouple said...

The floors look FANTASTIC! I can't wait to see the finished photos!

Nikki said...

So far they look great, I bet the finished photos are fabulous!

Mrs. Chic said...

Looking good!! The floors look amazing, I can't wait to do ours and really appreciate all your tips!

Kristi W @ Life at the Chateau Whitman said...

They are looking good already, but it sure seems like a lot of work. I'm not looking forward to the day when we start our sand and re-stain project.

Meg said...

Wow, those floors are gorgeous! So question. Lee has always loved very dark, rich floors. But my mom tells us over and over again that very dark hardwoods show every little speck of dirt. Have you found that to be true? We'd love to have espresso floors like yours someday, but I'm curious about how high maintenance they are.

P.S. - You're so smart! Popping the floors was genius!!

Abby and Adam Elvebak said...

It's looking amazing!

Angela said...

What a difference the popping made! The floors are looking awesome. I can't wait to see your after photos!

Kim @ NewlyWoodwards said...

PRETTY! Lovin' that dark stain. Gorg.

All the work was definitely worth it. =) (Easy for me to say.)

Lovely Little Nest said...

Very nice! Love the wall color, too :)

P.S. Be sure to enter my first GIVEAWAY!

Sara @ Russet Street Reno said...

Meg, your mom is right...dark floors show more dust than medium-toned floors. But I'm not one to love 'concealed' dust hanging around, so my twice-weekly mopping with Bona takes care of the problem. I don't mind them being a little high-maintenance!

micah @ the yellow front door said...

I can always count on learning something new from your posts... popping (floors and drawers) does not sound fun, but holy crap your floors look amazing!!

E @ Oh! Apostrophe said...

That color is definitely gorgeous! You guys are pros! :)

Kerry @ First Time Fancy said...

I admire your patience - the popping and staining the floors is more than my short attention span can handle!

Floors are looking great :)

paperjunk-lc said...

Wow that color adds so much sophistication to your home. They turned out just beautifully.

Cindy @The Flipping Couple said...

They're looking so good!! Dark floors add so much to a house. Can't wait to see the final "afters."

stylefyles said...

very nice work. I look forward to seeing the finished pictures. That water popping demo was kind of amazing.....who would have thought it would have made THAT MUCH of a difference?

Keeley said...

Nice floors. Now, after reading the title to this blog post, I can't get the Snoop song out of my head. Thanks :) (At least I think that's the song you referred to.)

Kelly @ Dare to be Domestic said...

wow... just wow! Totally worth the zombie manicure. Pop it like it's hot gurrrl!

Maria Killam said...

Wow great job!! Nice to see the step by step!

Londen @ Sixty-Fifth Avenue said...

I love dark floors and yours are looking great! Can't wait to see the after pictures.

Oonafey said...

It looks amazing! I wish I had the stamina to refinish our floors, but that is never going to happen...

Jenny @ Anything Pretty said...

What a cool technique! And that is the perfect color without mixing. Definitely an amazing find. You guys put in so much work and it will be so worth it which is easy for me to say!

glamourpuss said...

Floors are looking fab!!

pink helicopter said...

Hi! A friend just sent me to your blog because I'm working on my own floors, and needed a push toward going darker with the stain. These look great! Thank you for being so detailed with your tips too!!

exmark05 said...

floors look great. What grit paper did you use to sand your floors?