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Staining timber floors

Once the timber floorboards have been sanded (see this page for sanding timber floors), the flooring can be stained if a darker colour is required. Staining should be carried out immediately after sanding while the timber is still free of dirt, grease etc. Leave at least one whole day between sanding and staining to allow the saw dust to drop out of the air.

Ready mixed water, spirit or oil based stains are available in various shades to suit your requirements - the different types of stain should not be mixed. Water based stains may raise the wood grain, so it is always worth trying the staining fluid in a small area before commencing on the whole floor. Make sure that type of stain used is suitable for covering with the floor finish you intend to use.

Always apply wood stain as recommended by the manufacturer and the following is for general guidance only. If using a spirit based stain, ventilate the area and try to choose a day when there is little or no wind otherwise dust may be blown in through the window.

Always wear protective gloves while applying the stain to keep it off your hands, most stains are not harmful (check the manufacturers guidance) but will mark your hands.

Stir the stain before using it and, occasionally, while using it otherwise the pigment may fall to the bottom of the can and you will find that the colour becomes stronger as the level of the stain falls.

Make sure that the floor is dust free before starting to stain, and start staining the floor at the opposite corner to the door - you can then work your way back to the door and leave the stain to dry without having to walk over it.

Apply the stain to a padded lint free cloth and then apply the cloth to the timber, this should ensure that an even coating is applied to the timber. Firmly rub the cloth along the grain of the timber to achieve a uniform colour, keep taking 'an overview' of the floorboards as it is easy for the shade to gradually change which you may not notice if concentrating on just a small area. Add stain to the cloth to keep it reasonably damp.

Concentrate on one or two floorboards at a time working along their length, avoid overlapping areas already stained as this might appear as a darker area when the stain has dried. If you have to stop and leave the job for any reason (that cup of tea !), finish to the end of a floorboard.

When the whole floor has been stained, leave the stain to dry for at least as long as the manufacturer recommends. The stain may look a bit patchy while it is drying, don't worry, staining normally 'evens out' as it dries.