Wooden floorboards are a beautiful feature in any home. Unfortunately, they can wear easily and require ongoing maintenance to look their best. Therefore, if you are looking at your wooden floorboards and thinking they’re looking a bit tired, consider these few tips before you break out the sander and bucket of stain:
- Stain or polish? Staining your timber floors requires a lot of sanding and preparation work, which may not actually be necessary. If you are happy with the colour of your wooden floorboards, you may be able to just polish the timber to brighten up the look. You can choose a polish in a matte or gloss finish depending on the finish you want.
- Staining can accentuate flaws in timber floors. This can be a problem with any scratches or dents, in particular, if you intend to sand the floorboards yourself. Stain contains large pigments of colour which lodge in gouges and depressions in the timber. The stain then appears darker in these areas, drawing the eye.
- What type of timber are your floorboards? Some types of timber make it very difficult to obtain an even stain. For example, timber floors of maple, birch, pine or fir are tight-grained, with very small pores. This means the fibres in the timber’s pore walls varies dramatically, leading to an uneven finish when stained. Pine or fit timber floors can also contain sap or resin which will resist the stain and make the finish look mottled.
- Do you know the right amount of stain? The stain is applied to a timber floor by rubbing it on and then wiping it off. There is a finite amount of stain your timber floors will absorb no matter how much stain you keep applying. If you do happen to apply more stain than the timber can take, you will see bleed back, where the stain will return to the surface of the timber when the solvent starts to evaporate. Bleed back can also seep up from in between the boards after they have been sealed.
- Do you have the time? Not only is the preparation and staining labour intensive, but the drying process also can’t be rushed. You will need to leave your stain to dry for at least 48 hours, but preferably 72 hours. The timber flooring stain dries as the solvent evaporates, so it will dry best with some windows open. You’ll then want to apply two to three coats of a clear protectant on top and wait for that to cure. So you should allow at least a week before you can move your furniture and family back in.