nacimroc Registered User

So we have just bought a house and the house we are moving into has mostly 'solid' wooden floors. It looks like maple flooring, but it is scratched badly and worn in most places so its all needs to be redone.

What do I do? Do I hire a sander and sand myself (no problem at all) then seal with some wax ish type of stuff or some sealer? I don't want a shinny varnished floor.

So the big question we are also wondering is can we stain it some other colour, maybe darker? I'm guessing no because when it wears the natural colour will show?


North West Registered User

The first thing you need to check is the thickness of the floor boards. They may have been sanded before ?. If not your ok. Hire a good sander and make sure you keep it flat on surface othewise it will gouge your floor. You wll need Heavy - medium and Fine grit sandpaper.
Use heavy until you get ALL the varnish clean down to the natural board.
then use medium to smooth and fine to finish. Hoover floor completely a few times making sure all the dust is out from between boards. Get some white spirit in something and a few clean cloths. Dip cloths in spirit wring out to nearly dry. Clean floor with it. Let dry thoroughly. Now your ready to varnish.
First coat and sand with smooth sandpaper when dry.
Second coat and sand with smooth sandpaper when dry.
Third coat as above
Fourth coat as above.
Job done.
You only need to sand very lightly as your are always making the key for next coat. Be sure to open windows and seal doors while sanding. Also use a dust mask.
Little tip: before you put on each coat of varnish cut up a few onions and leave them around the rooms. They will neuteralise the strong smell of varnish around the house.
Watch out that too much varnish goes down between boards as this will show bubbles in floor when drying. You will get a small bit of expansion between boards as varnish is applied and boards will come together and too much varish on sides of boards may be pushed to the surface and so bubble slightly. If after floor dries and you see bubbling in places. Get stanley knife and trim away be careful mind the board edges tat you dont take some timber also.
Take your time have patience thats all it will take to do a superb job.

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nacimroc Registered User

Would I be right in saying the varnish would make it very shinny? The floor that's in it now looks like a waxed type finish which we like.

3ndahalfof6 Registered User

you don't have to use a gloss finish varnish, and diamond coat varnish is a good product,

I used to cut in the edges of the floor with a brush first and then use a nine inch mohair roller and roll the varnish on, I felt it gave a more even finish, but everything else posted above is on the money.

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nacimroc Registered User

Thats great! Thanks for that folks!

About staining it darker, is that a no go at all ?

And by medium/heavy/light sandpaper what sort of grit are we talking. I would guess 40-60 grit for really heavy scratches, 100 for medium and 120+ for light sanding?

3ndahalfof6 Registered User

maple flooring is tough wood, as mentioned by North West you need to check how thick the floor is, is it solid all the way through or just 5-10mm on top of ply,

if the floor is not badly damaged I would start with 100 then 120 if your only taking off the old varnish, once it is down to the bare wood you could use a stain to darken it,

but once you do that there is no going back, if you wipe down the floor with white spirit before doing any staining this will show you what colour you timber will look like when varnished,

the colour will look a lot lighter as bare wood, I would hand sand the floor between coats of varnish using a medium 50x50 mm sand pad, this is slower but a top class finish, wiping the floor down with white spirits every time after you sand it, if you decided to roll the floor get some 2 inch masking tape and run the roller sleeve up and down the sticky side this will remove any lose fluff or hair.

to be honest it is not as easy as it looks.

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nacimroc Registered User

Yeah, I didn't think it was as easy as it would seem. I would guess getting an 'OK' finish and a nice finish are worlds apart. I don't mind putting the work in as I simply can't afford a professional to do it.

Its interesting now you say I can stain it. I always just presumed that would be a no go. So stain and follow steps the same as above I assume. Is there a limit to how dark? Could a maple floor be stained as dark as walnut for example ? Would wear and tear show up the maple under the stain or would that be only for deep scratches.

Thanks again for the help. I don't want to make a dogs dinner of my new house and the wife gives out to me enough already.

3ndahalfof6 Registered User

you will only be staining it if you sand it down to the bare wood and if you sand it to the bare wood there should be no scratches or wear and tear, it would be good if you had some spare maple flooring to do a few test runs, some of the stores selling floors might have off cuts you could get for nothing, cut them into 6 inch strips and try them out,

scumble is another product you could use, you can get walnut scumble and thin it out with white spirit so it is close to a water like consistency this will soak right into the timber (no going back) if you were to go this route the shop you buy your materials in should be able to help you with advice,

all the best with it, if your going to stain use a sponge this should give you a far better finish i.e. no patching as you can cover a larger area quicker, overlapping wet on wet.

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North West Registered User

just with staining. If you do want to stain make sure your right down to bare wood. Get a few pieces of unfinished maple of your local buildrs merchant and try it. when you stain leave at least a week or so it takes the stain time to colour. Do not go too dark as stain will darken through time.

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jm265 Registered User

hi.please dont stain the floor if it is maple[for your sake] ,maple is one of the hardest floors to finish,it does not like stain[trust me] if you cant afford a professinal. hire a sander,use 40grit 60 80 and finish with 120.put 3 coats of varnish [satin] so you dont get a shine. rub with a soft sanding pad between each coat.floor will look great and last for years..

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Double Barrel Registered User

Good advise JM.
Staining maple floors is not for DIY'ers or the faint of heart.
If you have to stain the floor, hire a professional and have him/her use a water or oil based aniline dye.

jm265 said:
hi.please dont stain the floor if it is maple[for your sake] ,maple is one of the hardest floors to finish,it does not like stain[trust me]

nacimroc Registered User

Its just...I hate maple. If I can't stain I may end up just buying laminate as it just gives me that cold bingo hall / squash alley look which I'm not a fan of. I might just try to stain and varnish it, if that fails, laminate.

By saying it doesn't take stain well, do you mean it blotches? Would sanding it rougher than smooth first make it accept the stain better?

Double Barrel Registered User

nacimroc said:

By saying it doesn't take stain well, do you mean it blotches?
Well yes.
Maple is a closed grained wood and does not have an acid principle, meaning there is no tannic acid of consequence in the wood to make it react with another chemical to darken it ....... like oak or walnut or mahogany has and others.

Would sanding it rougher than smooth first make it accept the stain better?
Do you mean "raising the grain"?
Sand properly. Your finished product is dependant on the preparation.

Anilines are available in hundreds of colours and can be inter-mixed to make custom shades. They come in dry crystal form and are then mixed with solvent to the dilution you desire. You can make a real dark stain concentration or make a light one by thinning. You can also build colours on top on one another. BUT lap marks are a problem
If you overlap a spot, it will look twice as dark.
Anilines are very effective and light fast.

The other way forward would be to condition the maple with a "wash coat" - an application of a thin sealer. The wash coat soaks into the more absorbent areas of the wood, so when it dries, the stain will not penetrate so unevenly. This can be shellac, lacquer, "neutral" oil sealer that is appropriately thinned to about 20% solids. You could put a small amount of aniline dye in the wash coat in order to achieve a deeper colour with less hiding the wood.

Something else to consider and maybe the pro's can speak to it:

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jm265 Registered User

if your going to go to all the trouble of hiring sanding machines, sanding then staining wich could take you days depending on the size, and then you hate it and have to put down laminate,its going to cost you 3 times as much as a professonal.saying that even professional's are reluctant to stain maple

nacimroc Registered User

I'll give it a go anyway. With the advice here it may turn out ok but if I don't try I'll never know.

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