Correcting problems in wood floors




Dear Jeff

I know, the new Paypal policy is frustrating others as well. But to date this is the only way we can collect these small amounts of money needed to run this site, without us incurring large transaction fees. We are looking for another third party credit card receiver, but have not found one yet that doesn’t charge us big fees.

But the good news is that I do believe you are trying to make a donation, and I am going to go out on a limb and answer your question right now.

This floor fiasco is entirely the responsibility of the floor mechanic who buffed and re-coated your floor. I’m presuming that’s what he did, apply a coat of finish. If you just wax the floor let me know, because the directions will change just a little. He should have been acutely aware of the delicate nature of a white stained (or as you say pickled finish) floor finish. He should have first found out what the finish was on top of the stain. And if you didn’t know he should have asked you to find out from the floor company who did the job, before he began his task. You see rarely do we use an oil based poly over a white or pickled floor. There was nothing wrong with the way the original finish was done, or you would have experienced some peeling or severe wearing of the finish.

And you were doing the correct thing to have the finish recoated in the 5 year range, good for you. But alas the floor guy screened the floor too hard and wiped out part of the stain right to the bare wood, where he should have screened the floor by hand, or with a very fine screen. Or he could have chemically etched the floor. A good floor mechanic has many tricks up his sleeve to save these finishes. I did a screen and recoat of a pickled finished floor about 5 years ago, with stunning results.

So here is the solution. You will need to use a wood scraper. This is the type I am referring to. I use the large W-14 size, and you will need to sharpen it with a 10″ mill bastard file until razor sharp. Scrape down the area in question, until you have definitely removed all the finish you both have applied over this bare spot.

You see a simple hand sanding of a poly finish will not remove all the finish, but the scraping will. Now take a vibrator sander with 80 grit FLOOR SANDING sandpaper on it, and remove any scraper marks and generally smooth the whole area out. Take some time with this step to level the floor well.

Then hand sand the floor with the same 80 grit paper, and sand into the good finish only just a little. Through all the steps you will sand and scrape into the good finish just a little each time, do this successively so that the last hand sanding is pushing a little further into the good finish.

Now vacuum up and now comes the hard part. The stain you have tried didn’t work for many reasons. Are you really sure this was the brand of stain the original floor guy used ? It would be best to find out and get the original stuff. I say this because we buy our white stains from a furniture finish supplier, and we custom mix our white stains with other pigments to achieve different, (what you call) pickling affects. I know of no stain made by the regular store brand finish makers that is any good at all.

But you might try the Bona Kemi brand white pastel stain (and mix it with the correct darker pigments). I cannot tell you your formula, you will just have to experiment. Or try the Dura Seal white stains. Both should be found at a wood floor trade supplier. Not your paint store, or local floor boutique.

Anyway once you have the correct stain, apply it heavily to the sanded area, an let it sit there for up to 5-10 minutes. When you wipe it this time you should see a fairly good match with the older finish. If not remove the stain with some mineral spirits and try again, by adjusting the pigments. When I get really desperate, I will let the can settle over night, and take more concentrated pigments from the bottom of the can and try again with this stuff.

The stain may have created a bit of a halo around the repair area. When the stain is still wet try to wipe most of this halo off. Use mineral spirits or paint thinner to assist removing this halo, but be careful. Then let the stain dry for at least 24-48 hours. Apply two coats of whatever finish you have been using, on just that area, scuff sanding just GENTLY between coats of finish (don’t sand the stain). Then scuff sand and recoat the whole area again wall to wall to get a good blend. Or at least mask off the boards involved and recoat those boards.

If you are really daring here is another method. Prepare like I said, but this time mix the floor finish with some concentrated stain, and apply this instead. It’s a little risky because you won’t know how well this concoction will work or will dry. But you can intensify the color by layering up two or three coats of this mix. This is what they call toning, and it’s usually done with lacquer on furniture, not poly on floors.

One you have a few coats built up use a spray can of poly to blend in the finish. And be sure to be really careful scuffing between coats with this method, in fact use 150 grit or finer between coats. Oh. and choose a spray can of poly that is the same sheen as your present floor finish.

This later method is not my favorite, but either will work, and both are used in the floor repair trade. You might be better off hiring a professional for this rather tricky job, and charging it back to the BAD BAD floor man. Some furniture restorers do this sort of work, so call around. We see this mistake made often in the wood floor trade, and in one case it resulted in a small claims court trial, in which the owner won all costs associated with restoring the floor. Of course I was the expert witness so the BAD floor guy didn’t have a chance. So Jeff if this has answered your question, please send the donation by mail, with the check made out to me Joseph Turney. The address is again listed below.

Any more questions you may have on this subject or clarifications of your original question feel free to write again at no cost. I hope you have enjoyed this personal service, real human responses are the best.

If you found this information helpful, please explore the Wood Floor by visiting the rest of our website.

As always your Most humble servant, Joseph, the Wood Floor Doctor.-