Refinishing pine floor


My wife and I recently had the pine living room floor in our new house sanded to remove a number of indentations the previous owners had left in it over the years. The sanding and the first coat of polyurethane was done yesterday and when we got a chance to look at it after work, it looked terrible. All the many imperfections in the pine are sharply contrasted with the nicer areas. I don't know if the builder had just used low grade pine, but there are a lot of dark areas that we don't want being so noticeable, so we are thinking of going back to the dark stain the previous owner had used. Any ideas as to (1) would the one layer of polyurethane now on the floor have to be removed prior to a dark stain being applied? (I am thinking yes), (2) what types of stains are available that would be good for a pine floor and in this case would nicely cover all the knot holes and other dark marks that the sanding couldn't remove, and (3) should the professionals we hired have known that the pine floor was going to look this bad before recommending a clear polyurethane finish? We'd had to go to work during the day when the project was being done, so didn't get a good look at the ready-to-be-sealed-or-stained floor, we only saw it after the coat of sealer was already on it... Thanks for your input.
RL
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On Wed, 03 Jan 2007 06:44:48 -0600, "Amateur"

Just about every wood in the world has a finer grain than pine. Rip out the pine and put in anything but pine.
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1) YES - The poly must be removed if you Choose to Apply a different stain. Poly is essentially a plastic coat that seals out everything (but it breaks down over time from exposure to sun, etc).
2) Not sure what you mean by "cover" the knot holes. If you don't want the "character" of wood, you need to put another product over the top such as a laminate. E.g a whole new floor. But darker stain will change the appearance of the floor. I like a medium stain as you are right, any light colored floor shows any dirt, marks, etc. If you have kids, there will always be something showing.
Pine is a soft wood that must have polyurethane or similiar over it to seal it, otherwise it will get damaged easily every time you drop anything at all. I am suprised that a new house has pine as a flooring, this is much more typical in homes built between 1890 and 1930. I have refinished such a floor in my grandfather's home and then used a floor rug to add warmth and minimize daily wear in the center of the room while still showing off the beauty of the floor.
Good luck.
Amateur wrote:

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Amateur wrote:

How old is the house/floor and do you know what kind of pine it is? If one of the "white" pines, it is fairly soft and most people consider the wear of the years part of the character of the particular flooring. OTOH, if it is yellow pine as was fairly common in the 20s and 30s, particularly farther south and in the midwest, it is probably actually pretty hard -- not oak, hard, but not like a soft pine, certainly.
Listening to the description, I think you perhaps may have had unrealistic expectations as to what a refinishing would even be able to do. Impossible to say w/o seeing what grade of flooring was used, so can't really even comment there. But, a characteristic of white pine in particular is knots -- they just "come with the territory" and aren't considered defects, but character. Not sure what the other "dark marks" are -- if they left sanding swirls, that's a problem in the job, but if there were dents deeper than could reasonably be sanded out, that again is simply a "nature of the beast" thing w/ pine flooring.
I think it was unwise to leave the project to be completed in your absence w/o having seen at least a small area wiped w/ a damp cloth using mineral spirits or the like to show approximately what the finished floor would look like. If I had been the refinisher, I would have insisted on getting an approval before continuing or a waiver if you didn't want to take the time to hang around to see.
But, to answer the actual questions -- to stain it now will indeed require removing the new finish and basically the only way to do that at all inexpensively will be to sand it again.
You can stain it, but unless you use a _very_ dark and semi-transparent or opaque stain, you're not going to get a floor of a completely uniform color. If you want that, as someone else says, either go to another flooring entirely or, optionally, paint it. Totally uniform, no knots showing, no variation just is _not_ what a pine floor is. The yellow pine floors in this old farm house were stained quite dark as well as was the woodwork, but that was pretty much a typical style of the period (1914 or thereabouts). But, while there are some knots, in general the yellow pine is much more nearly clear than white pine flooring was. This is also narrow strip flooring (1-3/4", not wider as would be typical of white pine).
Yes, I would be surprised that someone would recommend clear poly on white pine to someone who (I presume) had expressed a desire for the end floor to be quite uniform. In their defense, however, I really doubt that anybody who had ever done a pine floor before would really expect that that would be what somebody would be expecting it to look like when done. As noted above, I also have to fault you somewhat for not being more directly involved in the process and simply expecting something. Although, I suppose if the old floor was quite dark and you had never seen pine flooring it could be simply being unaware of what you were dealing with, it is, after all, your house and to leave something that size to essentially happenstance seems a little risky.
Overall, probably not what you wanted to hear, but my best assessment of the deal...
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That is what I was thinking also. It may be improved with a lot of hand sanding to get the dents cleaned out. It will even out much more tough with time. About 60 to 75 years will do it.
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