How to Fix Uneven Stain On Hardwood Floors

Learn how to make your hardwood floors look shiny and smooth again with a few simple steps!

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Hardwood floors look fantastic! They are not only resilient but also give your home the posh and classy vibe that so many homeowners strive for. However, hardwood can only look like that if the stain on it is flawlessly smooth. But what shall you do if you notice any imperfections on its surface? How to fix an uneven stain on hardwood floors?

In this article, we will explain how to fix stained hardwood floors if there are any uneven parts on them. You will get a detailed guide on what to do and how to do it correctly to smooth out your hardwood flooring like a pro! Also, we will tell you how to maintain your hardwood floors so that they remain the same glossy and awesome as on the very first day you had them.

Beautiful wooden floor

How to Fix a Bad Stain Job On Hardwood Floors

When the time comes to figure out how to fix stained hardwood floors, the very first thing you should do is to make sure you have all the necessary tools and supplies for the repair project. To get started on fixing uneven stains on your hardwood floors, you will need the following items: 

  1. Floor buffer/sandpaper
  2. Paint roller
  3. Paintbrush
  4. Microfiber mop
  5. Dust mask

When you have all of them at hand, you can start your stained hardwood floor repair procedure. No worries, it will not take you much time! Besides, even if you have never done this before, you can be sure the result will be successful. Fixing an uneven stain on hardwood floors is not a super complicated task.

Start With Sanding

To smoothen out the uneven areas of your hardwood floor and fix the imperfections that may occur on the stain, you should first treat those imperfections with sandpaper. For sanding, you should just sand the affected areas gently to even out the surface. Sand six inches forward and five inches back, and make sure you always move parallel with the wood grain! 

It is recommended to use 180 to 220-grit sandpaper for this purpose. As for the sanding method, choose the one that suits you most. Basically, you can sand either by hand or opt for an orbital electric sander. As an alternative method, you can also use a handheld oscillating sander.

Finally, remember to ensure the sanding is consistent. Wood stains tend to absorb into the wood at different rates depending on how well the surface has been prepared. When you apply the stain to a properly and thoroughly sanded floor, it comes out evenly. 

Remove the Sanding Dust

People often believe that only orbital sanders leave dust and mess behind, but it’s not like that. After you sand your hardwood floors, there will be dust no matter what, even if you use regular sandpaper and sand your floors manually. 

So naturally, you would want to remove the dust from the surface of your floors in order to proceed with a clean and smooth surface. Luckily, cleaning is very easy! You just need to mop the sanded areas of your floor. If there is a lot of dust left after sanding, you may want to vacuum first to eliminate most of the mess and then finish it with mopping. 

Proceed With Staining

When your hardwood floors dry after mopping, it is time to stain them. We strongly recommend you not skip this step because even if the floor looks great after it has been sanded, it will still need staining. The good news is that staining is quite a simple process that will require only a few steps.

  • Pour a small amount of stain onto a dry rag, or dip your rag into the pot of stain.
  • Apply the stain across the grains of wood, overlapping with each pass.
  • Move as quickly as possible to wet the floor thoroughly.
  • Wipe the stain off as fast as possible. For that, use another soft and dry cloth.
  • Allow the stain to dry for approximately two to three days.

After the major staining session, you can re-stain your floors if you need to, as long as you allow them to dry fully after each coat.

Seal the Floors

This is the final step of the hardwood floor fixing. After you clean and stain your floors, they should be sealed to make sure the stain lasts longer. For that purpose, use a paintbrush or roller to apply a coat of polyurethane finish. 

It is essential that you allow the polyurethane finish to dry thoroughly! Usually, it takes from six to eight hours, but we would say you should preferably let it sit overnight. This type of finish is the best one to use on hardwood floors because it will protect your floor from spilled liquids exceptionally well, as the liquid will simply bead up so you can easily wipe it away!

As you can see, fixing any imperfections on a hardwood floor is not a complicated task at all. You can easily perform it yourself even without the help of a professional floor master as long as you have sandpaper or a sanding machine. Just ensure you follow all the steps we described precisely, and your floors will look great!

How to Choose the Right Type Of Sandpaper

Although we have told you that the ideal sandpaper grit for fixing any hardwood floor imperfections would be from 180 to 220 grit, we think it is good to know what other grits are about. Like that, you will know for what purposes you might want to use this or that type of sandpaper, depending on the amount of damage and severe imperfections your wooden floors have.

But first of all, let’s clarify what sandpaper grit is about in case you don’t know about this term. As you probably know, each sandpaper comes with a grit value, the gauge for the size of the abrasive itself. To figure out what grit sequence you need for your sanding project, you will want to start with the harsher and rougher grit and then move on to a finer level. 

Basically, the grit of the sandpaper you use for your project will depend on the condition of your floors. Below, we have provided a detailed and short guide that will help you understand how some grit rating works. This information will allow you to find out the best grit sandpaper for you.

  • 12-grit sandpaper is the most bristly and harsh in the texture of them all. It should be the starting point for hardwoods that have previously experienced extreme adhesion or paint layers.
  • 16-grit sandpaper is coarse sandpaper that may sustain heavy pants, shellac, or lacquer.
  • 24-grit sandpaper will work well if you have a worn-out, unflattened, or discolored surface with foot-soiled marks. It will also be good on swirls from previous staining jobs.
  • 36-grit sandpaper is good for upgrading newly installed hardwoods or floors with a bare finish.
  • If you use 60-80 grit sandpaper, note that each succeeding grit will add finesse to the work of the last.
  • 100-grit sandpaper is typically too fine for DIY projects and should be used in industries.

However, it doesn’t mean that you must not use sandpaper with grit above 100! The type of sandpaper you need depends on how severe the imperfections of your hardwood floor stain are. But at least now you can imagine better how each sandpaper type will work.

How to Maintain Your Hardwood Floors to Make Them Look Flawless All the Time

Even if you fix all the flaws and uneven areas on your hardwood floors, it doesn’t mean the surface will need no care and maintenance afterward! Hardwood floors look great and stylish, but only as long as you take care of them properly! So if you want your hardwood floors to look great further on and serve you longer, remember to follow these simple tips.

Clean Any Spills Instantly!

Spilled liquids are the worst enemies of your wooden floors! If you don’t notice the spill and the liquid remains on the wooden floor, it will result in ugly whitish stains that are pretty hard to remove. 

So keep an eye on liquids and remove even the most minor spills immediately! Use a dry or slightly damp cloth to wipe up anything you spill, avoiding wet or steam mops since they will cause more damage over time. 

As you probably know, wood swells and shrinks because of moisture, both on its surface and in the air. This is why it is essential to keep humidity levels down to avoid splitting and/or gapping your wooden floors! 

The best way to prevent such moisture-related problems is to clean up spills as soon as they occur. Also, make sure you keep your home's temperature between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (and between 30 to 50 percent humidity). 

Use Furniture Pads to Protect the Floor Finish

Moisture is not the only enemy of your hardwood floors. Scratches and dents can also make it look awful. Those appear when we move heavy furniture around the room when we want to redecorate. But scratches are some of the most challenging problems on wood floors!

This is why we recommend you use special furniture pads for the legs of your chairs, sofas, tables, etc. They are cheap and able to protect your floors from unexpected scratches or other sorts of damage.

Clean Your Floors Regularly

Keep one simple rule of thumb in your mind: hardwood floors will look fabulous if you sweep them daily and vacuum them once a week. Such a simple cleaning routine will not take you much time. However, it will give you tons of benefits. Vacuuming will eliminate any crumbs that might scratch the floor, and sweeping will prevent dust from settling into the grain and between the floorboards. With clean floors, any further cleaning or fixing procedures will be much easier!

Use Correct Cleaning Products

Wood is a tricky material to maintain, which means you should use proper cleaning products on it. We recommend you stick to special cleaners designed for wooden surfaces and floors, such as Pledge Gentle Wood Floor Cleaner, Libman Hardwood Floor Cleaner, or Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner. Cleaning your hardwood floors once a month with such a product will help you keep them shiny and durable.

Now you know know how you can fix any uneven stained areas on your hardwood floors easily. We explained how to do it step by step, and also you got a few helpful tips on what tools and supplies to use for this purpose. In addition, now you have a brief guide on how to maintain hardwood floors correctly to make them serve you longer and remain good-looking and durable.

Links on this topic to authoritative sources:
  1. Laminate flooring :
  2. Wood flooring :
  3. How to Fix an Uneven Stain on Refinished Wood Floors :

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Does My Stain Look Blotchy?

It usually happens because the type of stain does not suit the wood structure. You either used a pigmented stain, or the varying densities of wood could not soak the stain.

Can Polyurethane Even Out My Floor Stain?

It is only the oil-based polyurethane that evens out the stain. The water-based formula will not do the trick.

What Products Should Not Be Used On Hardwood Floors?

Don't use straight ammonia, alkaline products, or abrasive cleaners. They'll dull or scratch the finish.

How Often Shall I Re0Finish My Wooden Floors?

In general, it’s recommended that you re-finish hardwood floors once every 3-5 years.

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