There are several issues that can arise due to simple mistakes when it comes to applying finish on a hardwood floor. Hardwood floors should add value to a home and a sloppy finish can decrease that value! Let’s take a look at three common issues.
#1 – Bleed Back
Cause – Bleed back is a phenomenon when staining wood floors. Stain that has penetrated into the open grain of the wood or in a fine crack, wicks back to the surface forming a wet dot at the end of the grain or a wet line along a crack as the floor dries. Sometimes this is not seen until the sealer or first finish coat is applied. The bleed back squeezes up through the first coat leaving a smearing mess on the surface.
Cure- Applying the stain even and thinner is a good start to staining wood floors. Buffing on the stain is one way to achieve an even and thin stain job. Not all stains can be buffed on. Check the label instructions or contact the manufacturer to find out if the stain can be buffed. Darker more intense stain look can be achieved by water popping the grain of the wood before staining. Be sure the moisture is gone before staining. Air movement and ventilation is important in getting stain to cure before top coating with a sealer or finish. Never double stain wood floors. Always check with the manufacturer for dry time and proper drying conditions.
Cause- Alligatoring is an effect when a floor finish pulls away from itself creating ridges in the finish. This effect will cause your finish to resemble an alligator’s skin. There are several causes for this issue, including, contaminants in the finish, cold temperatures during application, applying a heavier finish coat than what is recommended or applying another top coat before the bottom coat is dry.
Cure- To fix this, you will need to screen or scrape off the finish until a dry finish is reached. If the finish is not completely dry, you run the risk of repeating this problem.
#3- A Cloudy or Hazy Finish
Cause- A cloudy or milky finish occurs when you apply a finish over a stain that is not dry yet. When a finish is applied over a stain that is not dry the trapped solvent from the stain turns the finish to a cloudy or hazy appearance.
Cure- To relieve this issue, you will need to sand the floor to bare wood and start over. Make sure to increase your dry time before coating over the stain. Be sure to have plenty of air movement and proper temperature conditions. Allowing extra time for the stain to dry will help in having the proper coating job. Never rush dry times.
Micah Petersen, Product Manager for Basic Coatings, spent the first 15 years of his career as a Research and Development Chemist before becoming Product Manager. In his free time he enjoys spending time with his family and a multitude of outdoor activities. For further questions regarding hardwood floor care and Basic Coatings, please email Micah at Micahblog@basiccoatings.com.