Hardwood floor finishing problems


Hey all,
I'm new to this group, but I was very hopefull I might get some advice here. I've been looking though a number of groups but haven't found an answer.
I installed new hardwood floors in the past weeks. I used unfinished brazilian cherry. The installation went well enough, then I went to finishing them. Sanding went well, took the floor down level and smooth. I applied a natural stain which brought out the beautiful color in the wood. Now comes the problem:
I installed the floor on my upper and main floor. The upper floor looked great and after 2 days was dry and I applied a water based finish to it. 4 coats later I have a lovely floor that is done.
The main floor had some area where I didn't apply enough stain and needed another coat. I went to two stores and couldn't find the same stain I used ( ) so I grabbed another natural colored stain ( ) thinking it would work fine. Both are oil based ?
Where the first coat dried and was ready for a finish in 2 days, it has now been over a week since I applied the 2nd coat and it is still sticky. I did a test area 3 days after the 2nd coat of stain, but the finish dried cloudy and very badly. After a week and no improvement I tried some mineral spirits to help clear up the 2nd coat of stain. That may have been a bad idea, but either way it seemed to help at first, but a few days later the floor is still to sticky for the finish.
I finally decided to try and sand it down again and start over, I have to get this done. As some of you may have guessed that doesn't work because it doesn't take any time for the sandpaper to get gummed with the sticky wood up then start ripping. I went through several papers and got very little floor taken down.
Feel free to say that any approach I've taken is just stupid, I just need to know what to do. If anyone has any ideas or can point me to a post that might help, I'm about to put a shovel through my floor out of pure frustration, and my wife has been very patient, but I don't know how much longer she'll put up with our furniture in the garage and our kitchen out on the porch. Thanks,
Trock
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Hey all,
I'm new to this group, but I was very hopefull I might get some advice here. I've been looking though a number of groups but haven't found an answer.
I installed new hardwood floors in the past weeks. I used unfinished brazilian cherry. The installation went well enough, then I went to finishing them. Sanding went well, took the floor down level and smooth. I applied a natural stain which brought out the beautiful color in the wood. Now comes the problem:
I installed the floor on my upper and main floor. The upper floor looked great and after 2 days was dry and I applied a water based finish to it. 4 coats later I have a lovely floor that is done.
The main floor had some area where I didn't apply enough stain and needed another coat. I went to two stores and couldn't find the same stain I used (Minwax ) so I grabbed another brand of natural colored stain ( Watco ) thinking it would work fine. Both are oil based although the Minwax is recommended for floors and the Watco is not which I know now but not then.
Where the first coat dried and was ready for a finish in 2 days, it has now been over a week since I applied the 2nd coat and it is still sticky. I did a test area 3 days after the 2nd coat of stain, but the finish dried cloudy and very badly. After a week and no improvement I tried some mineral spirits to help clear up the 2nd coat of stain. That may have been a bad idea, but either way it seemed to help at first, but a few days later the floor is still to sticky for the finish.
I finally decided to try and sand it down again and start over, I have to get this done. As some of you may have guessed that doesn't work because it doesn't take any time for the sandpaper to get gummed with the sticky wood up then start ripping. I went through several papers and got very little floor taken down.
Feel free to say that any approach I've taken is just stupid, I just need to know what to do. If anyone has any ideas or can point me to a post that might help, I'm about to put a shovel through my floor out of pure frustration, and my wife has been very patient, but I don't know how much longer she'll put up with our furniture in the garage and our kitchen out on the porch. Thanks,
Trock
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Trock wrote:

Hey Trock. Sorry about the mess.
I can throw a lot of things out there, but beware the diagnosing a problem with finishing is twitchy just about any time, but from afar almost impossible. But there are some likely suspects.
The Minwax stain has little (I mean very little) resin in it. So when you apply the Minwax is is pigment and solvent. This dries rapidly as you have seen giving you a chance to get back on the project and finish. The amount of resin in the stain is just enough to hold the pigment together so when you put finish on top of the stain it doesn't just wipe off. Being highly thinned, it dries rapidly.
Watco is another animal. It is a colored oil, not a stain. The intent of the finish is to provide a light duty, idiot proof, renewable finish that is easily applied. But it is intended to be a finsh, not just a stain. It takes days for that stuff to cure sometimes, and that is on raw wood. But if you are going over another finish that won't let the oil/solvent mixture in Watco penetrate (and go away) leaving only a little on the surface to cure, then you could be in for a wait. Worse still, depending on the water based finish you are using, they usually have a large dose of alcohol in one form or another. These could also add to the problem since the uncured part of floor would have areas miscible with the alcohol making more goo.
I think this is what is happening since you are getting a cloudly result in your finish. Trapped solvents - in this case no telling which product - under your finish are letting you know the curing process is not complete. And you are probably adding to it by putting on the finish you have chosen.
This is what I would do.... not what you should do.... just a suggestion. When I have had enough, I take out the lacquer thinner and rub off everything I can get off with a rag. Now try this in an unobtrusive place, or an area you have given up on. But for me, the lacquer thinner does the trick (but you could probably use VPM -naptha- or something along those lines) as it will take off a lot of the finishes that are out there, break down the resins, and remove any excess oils (Watco) that are lingering. If I have a problem finish that just gums up and never stops, then I scrub it with a Scotch Brite pad to loosen everything up, then throw a liberal amount of sawdust on the loosen gunk and use the sawdust to pick up all the remaining gunk. (This is kind of like throwing kitty litter on an oil spill). Once it is clean and all the sawdust you can pick up with a rag is gone, then vacuum it well. Then wash it off with some more lacquer thinner or some mineral spirits.
For your sake, wear the proper respirator when doing this kind of work, even when applying water based products.
Let it dry a couple of days. Sand as needed, and start over with the original stain. Betcha that will get you back on track.
Let us know how you do.
Robert
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snip

Anytime I've had a wood floor sticky finish problem I used a floor buffer (can be rented with a quick discussion of operation) and #3 steel wool pad, it comes in a roll or pads. (Janitorial supply house) and lots of paint thinner.....a wet vac with towels, mops etc to pick up the goo wouldn't hurt either. I never found it particularly flammable but a fire extinguishers would be worthwhile.......Rod
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