Ugh! oak floor stain is not what I had hoped!

eks6426January 19, 2010

Went home at lunch today to check on my new red oak flooring. It is not even close to the color I wanted. The funny part is I mixed the stain and did several test pieces and the current floor using the same stain mix doesn't match any of my test pieces.

I was aiming for a medium brown with a slight golden undertone. I mixed Provincial and Jacobean stains. All my tests were great.

Now, the floor is much lighter and has a very reddish tone which I definitely didn't want. I know it will get darker with the 2nd coat but I don't want the red....

Furthermore, there are some footprints showing up now that it is stained. The contractor is going to sand those out and restain but that worries me too on color matching. Of course the footprints on the main view into the kitchen which is seen from my front door.

Grr. frustrated.

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Does your flooring contractor do glazing at all? We had a glaze put over our floors (white oak) which were stained a light color, but I wanted a medium brown color. They turned out beautiful. If they can glaze for you, they might be able to add more brown (less red) and get a nice rich color for you. Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 3:01PM
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Oh this sounds so familiar.
It took me a while to get the right color. I feel for you.

Do you have a picture of the floor color you want?
I too did samples of the various shades and recipes. I
thought I knew what I wanted and the floor guys stained
the floor. But it was ugly. I cried.
It took me two tries through my floor guys to get the color
right. When I say two tries they did the entire first floor
but I did not like the color at all. So they redid it until
I got the color I love. I wanted a dark almost ebony mixed
with English Chestnut. It took a while and they had to use
Mahogany mixed in the recipe.

Staining floors can be really hard to get the right color.
It helped that I had pictures and the floor guys worked
with me. It was hard because my floor guys are stubborn
and wood purists but once they knew what I wanted they

I have a mix of red and white oak.
Here are my floors...

This is more what my floor look like today.
They are dark but you can see the beauty of the grain
and the depth of color.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 8:30PM
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i hate to be the bearer of bad news, but, our floor was walked on right after sanding. The guy did not come back to put the stain on until about 4 days later. As soon as the first coat of stain went on the footprints started showing up, even our doggie's pawprints. He tried to sand it out, but as soon as the stain went back on, the footprints/pawprints reappeared again. yours might come out, but mine did not. It does not bother me too much since most people don't even notice it. I look at it as character marks. wood floors in a kitchen area are just going to take more than wood floors anywhere else.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 8:43PM
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I used Coffee Brown by duraseal and it is a dark brown with no red undertones (I didn't want those either). I would have him sand and restain the whole floor - sanding the footprints out doesn't sound good.

They can screen it which will not take it down to bare wood but may not get the footprints out.

Stick to your guns - we had all sorts of problems with our floors when they were installed (stain was very very uneven). Three tries. Owner finally came himself and applied it very painstakingly and it looks great.

FYI - be sure if there are places you can look at the floor from the second story (like in a two story entrance hall), go up there and look. What looked fairly even on ours looked terrible when we were in the upstairs entrance hall overlooking the den.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 9:37PM
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Well, I got home last night late and the floors looked WORSE. The contractor had sanded out the foot prints but now we have dark splotches all over the floor. I can't look at them as character because they clearly show a traffic pattern.....and it is the main view into the house from my front door.

We called the contractor at home last night and told him that in the incadescent lighting, the newly sanded places showed up as dark splotches. Honestly, the whole staining looks very uneven to me. Contractor said he will come today and work to make it right so I guess that is good. We told him we think it will need to be sanded entirely and redone. He had some other things he wants to try first. We'll let him try them, but I still think he will have to sand the whole room again.

Boxerpups...the color I'm aiming for is really close to what you have. I have red oak flooring because that is what is in the rest of my house and I blended in the pieces so I couldn't switch to white oak.

Does anyone know if the poly will help blend everything together too?

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 8:14AM
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I've put in red oak floors myself. I notice that the pinkish color was strongest in recently purchased boards compared to boards I had bought the year before which had mellowed to an amber. Sanding will remove the amber layer, though. Sunlight will speed up the ambering process.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 8:32AM
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eks6426, is what you are telling me is that the pinkish tone will go away as the boards amber? The kitchen is filled with windows so the floors will get lots of sunlight.

I did notice that the dining room which is original flooring does not have the pinkish tone even though the exact same sanding & staining was done.

Contractor came and looked today and agreed the floors need to be resanded and started again....I'm glad he came to that conclusion on his own. Hopefully he can get the sanding and stain layers done today.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 10:57AM
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Wow, I thought I was the only person who ended up with footprints and uneven color. Our contractor also left the floor sanded & unstained over the weekend. Maybe that's what causes it. Anyway, he wanted to try fixing it but we said we wanted the opinion of someone who only did floors (he is a gc). He made all the arrangements for a floor specialist to come in and totally resand, stain and seal. These people did not leave the unsanded wood unsealed at all. In fact they sanded, stained and had the first coat of poly down in a day. They now look great! We did go with a lighter stain the second time, partly out of fear and partly because the kitchen/family room looked to dark with the darker stain. No footprints at all!

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 8:31PM
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We had a problem with uneven stain in a couple of rooms and also had the contractor resand those. It is very stressful.

As far as the color, ours also ended up lighter than I had thought. We had samples too and they looked darker to me, but when the whole floor was done it looked lighter. I didn't try to redo it mainly because we were staying with friends and had to finish by the end of the school break.
But if you are not living in the house, I recommend the Boxerpups' route and getting the color you wanted. The colors I was considering for the walls and even for the kitchen cabinets ended up not looking good with the lighter floor, so I have to make adjustments to my original vision. Not a bad thing but very frustrating.

As far as the variations between the old floors and the new floors, we also have an old house with red oak floors and also wanted to match the new to the old. It works but to a certain degree. The old floor definitely has more yellow/orange and the new has more red. What I learned in the process is the older flooring, in addition to being in our houses for a while, was most likely made from older trees. The flooring which is sold today is made from much younger trees. Old wood and young wood have different characteristics and absorb stain differently as well. But once the furniture goes in, they should be close enough that most people wouldn't see the difference.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 9:55PM
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Well, went home last night hoping to see the floors looking great. They are better but not great. Most of the footprints are out. The area where he sanded again is better. Now, the whole floor is considerably darker than what I had planned and there are some very dark gummy looking spots. Of course they are 1/2 way across the room so I can't get to them.

Today the contractor is coming back and he says he is going to use a super fine grit sandpaper and sand the floor lightly again--especially in the areas that are too dark. Then wait for my approval...he is hoping to poly today.

I'm really just sick over the floors. The contractor is trying super hard. He wants to make it right. He is a general contractor who has done some floors but it is not his specialty. The dining room floor which he refinished looks pretty good. The stain is much more even and no weird footprints or dark spots. I think we do have a case of old wood vs new but also a case of an less experienced floor guy who didn't know what to do with the new wood to make it work.

I'm not sure that even if I ask him to resand it entirely down to bare wood and start over that the result would be what I want.

At this point, I'm not sure what to do other than let him finish and hope it looks better when it is all done and everything is in it. My plan was to redo the floors in my living room this summer. Hubby is suggesting that if the kitchen/dining room floors don't suit me that we wait until 2011 and refinish the entire first floor...including the kitchen and dining room we just did with a person who only does floors.

To stop right now and get a flooring guy in here will probably delay moving back into the kitchen by at least a few more weeks....

I'm so annoyed that I chose poorly. The contractor has done a good job on everything else and he is very easy to communicate with. He's just not as skilled as we needed on floors.

I really wish they just would have turned out great.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 8:29AM
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It wouldn't necessarily take weeks longer. When we asked for a floor specialist, he was at our house that afternoon and redid the floors the next day, plus two more days for additional poly. They were happy to get the work, said its been slow.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 3:38PM
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One more thought, I remember something about poly making the stain color appear lighter. So darker color may not be a bad thing. Check that with the contractor before changing the color.

If the light sanding doesn't help the gummy spots and you still don't like it, it may be worth it bringing a local floor specialist in at least for a consultation.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 5:12PM
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boxerpups- do you know your stain recipe? That is what I am going for in my space, however, I have all original or salvage (same approximate age) red oak, so I am concerned mine might come out a different color. This is one aspect of the project I have been biting my nails about, as we have to move everything into a pod (including the refrigerator), and I really don't want to have to keep having do-overs!

It seems like this stain issue is one that comes up frequently- how do we avoid it?

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 5:34PM
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I learned Stain is not like paint. You can not choose
a color and assume it will look like that. Wood is a
creature of change. Everything has an effect on the
wood. Lights, previous colors, how the stain is applied,
age of the wood and how the wood is treated all have
little factors that can change the color.

Oak is really tough to stain and get the exact color you
want. Wood floor guys always find themselves in trouble
or frustrated with staining oak. Pine on the other hand
takes stain like it is paint but Pine floors are soft
and dent easily create long term troubles.

We first used 3/4 Mahogany and 1/4 Ebony.
It came out dreadful. For some reason very orange.
I cried. (Kelleg, Postiano, Pbrisjar, Bellaflora,
Writersblock, Dinajp. Morton5, Frank59,...might remember
my desparation.)
So with encouragement because my floor guys are not used
to dealing with women we redid them. My floor guys are
serious wood purists they (At my cost) restained the
entire floors again and used this recipe.

3/4 English Chestnut 1/4 Ebony.
There was no real specific science in fact on some areas
they added a little extra ebony.

They are coming back to do my dh's office. I think we
are going with the 3/4 Eng Chestnut and 1/4 Ebony
Good luck

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 7:40PM
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Thanks boxerpups!

I have the luxury of being able to do a test, since I have some of the salvaged wood available to sand and stain. We'll see what happens!

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 8:05PM
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Oh dear Amberley,

I made an error on my recipe.
We did not use Ebony until much later. I went back and
read over old posts and spoke to my DH.
He remined me that our floor guys were too stubborn to
do Ebony. We first did English Chestnut and Mahogany
which came out too orange. Later the second time they
added Ebony.

Here is the link... sorry if you ran out to buy
all the stains.


Here is a link that might be useful: Kelleg, Erikanh, Postiano, Pbrisjar, Help ugly floors : (

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 11:03AM
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Good luck with your floors - I know your pain. We used a good floor guy and still had some issues with stain and oak while trying to match existing stained casements and trim. Red Mahogany looked perfect on the swatch and on the samples we did. After the floor guy stained the entire parquet floor with RM, it looked like someone spilled red wine all over and left it to dry - it was purple-ish and the oak grain looked blotchy in places. In desperation he topped it with a coat of Jacobean and it was perfect - it dulled down the red but left a warm undertone, and we didn't get the gray ashy undertone that Jacobean on its own can leave on oak. The combination - one coat each of Red Mahogany and then Jacobean, not a 50-50 mix of the colors - is probably a shade darker than the pics posted by Boxerpups.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 12:31PM
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Well, we got out on our floor to really take a close-look. Although it looked like it might have been ok mostly from a distance, when we actually stood on it, it was horrible. There are actually places that are still gummy several days later.

We decided to call the flooring specialist who had refinished our upstairs floors. (we should have went with him in the first place!). He came today (Sunday) to take a look and said the floor needs to be resanded and start over just as I expected. We told him we want him to do it. Hopefully he can squeeze us in his schedule this week or next.

Now, we have to make the hard phone call to guy number 1 who is very nice and trying very hard, but I just don't think has enough experience with flooring. We know we are probably going to wind up double paying for the first guy and the 2nd but in the end getting floors that look right is very important to the look of the whole kitchen.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2010 at 1:03PM
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Boxerpups, I love your new floors. I'm getting my red oak hardwood floors refinished in 2 weeks. Right now they are shiny orange. Being right by my shiny, natural kitchen cabinets drives me insane. I hate them all!!!! I'm so scared I'll end up with orange, gold or red. I'm going to try your stain. Did you use a satin finish?

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 8:27PM
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