December 28, 2009

More Problems With The Dining Room Floor

The week before Christmas we put the first coat of polyurethane on the living room floor. I wanted to do the living room first, because I wanted to put up our Christmas tree. DH agreed.

He hand sanded the floor lightly with 220 grit sandpaper, and we applied an oil based urethane. Like the dining room, the living room had some of the uneven splotchiness of stain I mentioned in this post. We were pleased then, that even the low luster of the satin stain seemed to improve the appearance tremendously. That was a relief.

The day after Christmas, we decided to apply the first coat of polyurethane to the dining room floor (so I could keep the tree up a few more days). As with the living room, we hand sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper. I was quite dismayed however, that with even a light hand sanding, spots of stain were removed to leave patches of bare wood....

Problem spots in stained dining room floorThis hadn't happened in the living room!

What to do. As a weaver and knitter, I'm often faced with errors in my weaving and knitting. These mistakes can sometimes be passed off as "design elements," but sometimes they glare at you unrelentingly, taunting you as an obvious blemish (you other weavers and knitters know what I'm talking about!). The question then becomes, "can I live with it?" Sometimes I say, "yes," and I keep on keeping on. Sometimes the answer is "no," and then I have to unweave or rip out until I can correct the error. A floor wasn't so easy to deal with because leaving it wasn't an option.

So, what options did we have?

We could:
~ apply a second coat of stain over the entire floor
~ sand it all off and start over (not!)
~ try to fix the bare wood spots

In the end, DH and I took small artists brushes and applied stain to the bare wood, blending as we went along. It didn't turn out too badly and only put us a little behind in our schedule.

We're not sure as to the cause and it's odd that it occurred only on the dining room floor. We used Cabot stain, but we would not use that brand again. The next day we applied the first coat of polyurethane in the dining room and are much relieved that it looks okay.

The plan is to get a second coat of polyurethane down on each of the floors. Admittedly it's a little slow drying this time of year, but we've been able to keep the floors within the recommended temperature range. I have to say that I will really be glad to finish this project and put it all behind us.

More Problems With The Dining Room Floor photos & text copyright December 2009 by Leigh at

Related Posts:
Dining Room Floor: Sanding & Staining


Life Looms Large said...

You guys are making great progress! I'm glad the poly is making the floors look more even and smooth (and of course the sanding is making them actually more even and smooth!)

Good luck!

Benita said...

Why would you not use Cabot stain again?

Theresa said...

Hmm, could be a few reasons, the grain has lifted slightly from staining in a few spots hence the take off
of the stain or, oak is a very tightly grained wood, it just may not have penetrated in those spots as well
or lastly, there may have been a waxy/oily residue of some sort that got onto the wood in processing and it didn't allow the stain to soak in.
The air brush was a good idea, but I would check and make sure the stain stayed this time.

Randy said...

Leigh ~ It may not be perfect in your eyes, but I bet no one will even notice those spots now! Isn't it nice to be completed with a project (ok, almost completed!!)?

Julie said...

Don't get it to prefect or it won't be an old house anymore. Its all looking so nice I can't believe all that you have done in such a short time!

Woolly Bits said...

I love timber floors - but reading this I have to say that tiles have their advantages:)) they are extremely cold unterfoot though - but being a knitter and felter at least I can make slippers for us:))

Margreet said...

I loved the way you described the problem in weaving terms :-)
Looks like a job well done with the brush. Hope the next layer will be ok and that you can move on with the next job.
You must be very proud looking around you and seeing what you have achieved this past year.

Leigh said...

Sue, you and me both. I think they will look quite acceptable in the end.

Benita, well, because of what we've experienced, i.e. splotchy application and the stain sanding off to leave bare spots again. We're thinking that part of the problem may have been because Cabot combined stain with polyurethane. Even though we stirred frequently, I'm wondering if perhaps this is why the stain "grabbed" in some areas, but didn't seem to "take" in others. Dan would have rather used a conventional stain, the type that you can wipe off to get the shade of color rather than darkening by applying additional coats. Oh well. Live and learn.

Theresa, those are all plausible possibilities. Fortunately, the stain stayed after our touch up job! The first coat of urethane is down and it definitely looks better.

Lynn, I think you're right. No one will notice unless we point the imperfections out! (Which seems to be a trait of mine!) And yes, it feels sooo good to be completing such a big project that has such a big impact on the total look of our home.

Julie, *LOL, good point! I think we've accomplished a lot too, but Dan gets frustrated that things are going so slowly! Hopefully we balance each other out.

Bettina, I love the look of ceramic tiles, but I think the wood floors will always win out. I'm such a klutz that I've broken quite a few tiles in the kitchen by dropping things! I definitely plan to use tile in the bathrooms however.

Margreet, thank you! I'm definitely looking forward to moving on. But I'll definitely enjoy the new floor once it's done!

Sharon said...

Those blemishes may plague you because you know they're there, but I have loved my grandmother's philosophy. "Who's going to notice that on a galloping horse?" She was born the 19th century and I think what she said is still true.

bspinner said...

Always something when it comes to home repairs. I think the way I would look at it is - wood isn't perfect and after time you won't even notice the slight imperfections.

Nezzy (Cow Patty Surprise) said...

I would put a second coat of poly on the floor. It tends to hid the imperfections. The floor is lookin' great. Loads of hard work there!

Have a very Happy New Year and God bless ya'll!!!

Leigh said...

Sharon, my grandmother said the same thing! And I agree, it's just as true today as it was back then. :)

Barb, I certainly hope so. I think they are so glaring now because we're working on the project.

Nezzy, that's the next thing to do. The first coat helped tremendously, which was a relief, so I'm looking forward to the 2nd coat!