Hardwood Floors – Choosing Stains and Finishes

CHOOSING STAINS AND FINISHES

I really love dark stains—I have mahogany on my own floors— but you can pick what’s in fashion or follow your personal preference or how the color matches the rest of your house.

The same goes for varnishes; it depends what you’re going for. For example, if you have an old cabin, you’re not going to want a high-gloss finish. You’re going to want a matt finish or semigloss.

I always check with my local hardware store and ask someone who knows their stuff about stains and varnishes because new ones are coming out all the time. A knowledge able salesperson will also be able to advise you on the best finishes for various climates.

Not that advice is always foolproof. The first time I did my hardwood floors, I asked the guy in the store what kind of finish I should buy—choosing between semigloss and high gloss. He told me that high gloss would look like I was walking into a high school basketball court—too shiny. So I got semigloss—and it barely shined! After putting in so much work on a floor, I wanted it to shine. Its personal preference, of course, but I went back three months later and got the high gloss, and it did not look like a basketball court ably because I had old wood floors. They were shiny but it just looked like they were clean.

Again, take advice, but at the end of the day, always trust what you like. And sometimes, you just have to experiment.

When shopping for stains and varnishes, I usually use the big hardware stores because of the selection they have; sometimes the smaller stores will only have two different types of varnish. The bigger stores will have ten or twelve different kinds, with a wider price range to fit your budget.

If you’re really on a tight budget, you may want to get the cheapest varnish, instead of the best, most expensive varnish. This might apply if you’re doing a “flipper,” and getting rid of the property; you may just want the quickest fix, the one that is going to cost you the least amount of money. If this is for your own house, and you don’t want to revarnish or change the look often, then get the very best quality stains and varnishes because you’ll save money in the long run. If it’s an investment property or a rental, then you’ll probably be looking at the cheaper options.


TIPS:

• The easiest way to apply stain is to put it on rags and rub it on the floor. You can also mop it on.

• Varnish is generally easier to mop on. Some companies have their own mops specific to particular products.

• Its common sense, but starts in the farthest corner and work your way out of the room. You have to let it dry, typically for forty-eight hours before you put furniture back, though usually you can walk on it after twenty-four hours.

• Put felt pads on the bottom of your furniture. That way, when you want to move it or adjust it later, you won’t ruin or scratch your beautiful hardwood floors.

Choosing The Right Brush

There are advantages to using higher quality brushes. Although they do cost more consider that a high quality brush delivers more paint to the surface by means of:

Longer, more numerous filaments.

Better blending of long/short and thick/thin filaments.
Better “tipping” (trimming of filament ends).

More durable anchoring of filaments (less bristles will fall out and stick to the surface).

A more comfortable handle (professional brushes are made for more use and therefore they have a fuller, more comfortable handle.

Brush sizes:

For most surfaces including trim a 2 1/2 sash brush is the best choice.

For large areas and siding a 3 or 4 inch brush should be used.

Painting tips & tricks

Rub petroleum jelly on the hinges and door knobs before you start to paint a door. If you get paint on them, they will wipe off easily.

To keep white paint from yellowing, add 2 drops of black paint to each Gallon of white.

When painting ceilings, cut a child’s rubber ball in half and put your paint brush in one of the halves to catch the drips.

An old pair of swimming goggles will protect your eyes from paint splatters and drips when painting ceilings.

When painting, protect your hands and face with moisturizer. Cleanup will be easier and the moisturizer will prevent paint from seeping into the pores.

To stop paint from dripping, punch a few holes in the rim of the paint can. When the brush is wiped against the edge, the paint flows back into the can. The lid covers the holes so the paint won’t dry out.

Before pouring paint from a can, cover the rim with masking tape. After pouring, remove the tape — the rim will be clean and the cover will fit tightly.

To remove lumps from paint: Cut a piece of screen to fit the inside of the paint can. Set it on top of the paint and let it float down to the bottom of the can. It will take all the lumps with it, trapping them at the bottom of the can.

When painting a room, dip a small card into the paint so that you have the exact colour with you and can match accessories in store.

When painting inside corners, trim the paint brush bristles to a V to save strokes and spread paint more easily.

When you poke a paint brush into corners or allow it to rest on the bottom of the paint can, the bristles curl and stray. To straighten natural bristles (not synthetics), try wrapping the brush in a couple of thicknesses of damp cloth and press gently with an iron. The steam and cloth binding do the job. Only light pressure is needed. Let the bristles cool before you unwrap the brush.

When painting old woodwork fill in the holes or cracks with a mixture of flour and some of the paint you are using. It hardens like cement and matches perfectly.