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Oak Staircase Staining Gone Awry

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Forum topic by desperate4help posted 04-10-2010 11:19 PM 9568 views 1 time favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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desperate4help

5 posts in 2430 days


04-10-2010 11:19 PM

Topic tags/keywords: oak stain splotchy stairs

Hi there,

We recently knocked down our half wall running up the stairs and stripped the steps of all the carpet. We bought the premade solid oak treads and all additional oak components (spindles, banister etc) from Home Depot. We wanted the white risers so we cut them ourselves and painted them with white melamine paint. After everything was installed, it was time to sand and stain. We sanded everything ourselves with 200 grit sandpaper, vaccumed and wiped everything down with a damp cloth. Afer carefully taping up poly to protect our white risers and walls, we had a professional come in stain the stairs, railing, spindles and handrail on one wall. He had wanted to spray stain on everything and then spray lacquer. I had heard lacquer was not the best choice for anything on the floor, so my instructions were to stain everything and only spray stain on the railing, spindles and handrail. When we returned we were horrified. The stain was too light (we had purchased stain that was pre-matched to our current hardwood florring) and seemed like it didn`t take in several areas – like white speckles, especially around the knotty areas and corners around spindles etc. The contractor explained that he did the first spray and noticed the problem, and ending up repeating the process 6X trying to fix it. The last couple times, he mixed the stain with the lacquer to see if it would help, without avail. This was the last step in a 7 yr home renovation and we are crushed as we have done most of the work ourselves and felt this was one thing we had to leave to a professional and it looks terrible. We are not sure what we can do to fix it. Is there some sort of product that we can just rub or spray over it…At this point, we don`t even care if it hides the grain. The color of the stain is quite dark anyways and it may even bring it closer to the shade of our dark chocolate floors. We are not sure what our options are and if there is an easy fix and if there is not an easy fix, how can we be sure this won`t happen again as we are not even sure what happened in the first place….
Sorry for the length on my post, just wanted to make sure I supplied as much detail as possible!!


8 replies so far

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ElmoSr

241 posts in 2488 days


#1 posted 04-10-2010 11:45 PM

if he lacquered or polyed over the stain most likely you will have to sand back to wood and start the staining over again, although with out seeing this i can not say for positive sure. any time one sprays stain it changes the properties and it doesnt look as dark or show grain like wiping on or brushing stain. i prefer to wipe with a cotton cloth.

i hope this helps a little,,keep posting so we know how this is going

-- ElmoSr,Ga. Life is Hard by the Yard,,,But a Cinch by the Inch

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desperate4help

5 posts in 2430 days


#2 posted 04-11-2010 01:19 AM

Thanks for your advice ElmoSr, I thought it might help if I posted a couple pictures.





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Eagle1

2066 posts in 2527 days


#3 posted 04-11-2010 01:25 PM

It looks like that it was not sanded smooth enough. Or the dust was not all removed. But I think that is wasn’t sanded smooth enough. It’s easy for that to happen with hard wood like oak. I made a couple of end grain cutting boards, out of maple and purple heart. The woodwhisper made a podcast sbout the end grain. Especially on end grain. He said if you are seeing the white spots in the wood while sanding. Start off with a rougher grit like 80 and work your way up.. I hope this works. I not or I’m wrong. Hopefully someone else here will have the answer for you..

-- Tim, Missouri ....Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the heck happened

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ElmoSr

241 posts in 2488 days


#4 posted 04-11-2010 01:58 PM

i agree with eagle 1,,it appears as if the wasnt sanded enough, if i sand the board with 150 grit i will sand the end grain with 220 grit,,,I always sand the end grains with a finer grit than the board. splotches in certain woods are difficult not to have without spraying.

-- ElmoSr,Ga. Life is Hard by the Yard,,,But a Cinch by the Inch

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CharlesNeil

1610 posts in 3333 days


#5 posted 04-11-2010 03:06 PM

lets fix it , it looks to me like the white is either a filler , which didn’t take stain ,or a reaction to the oil stain, suspect it is one of thin box store stains, or a BLO base … and wasn’t allowed to dry long enough ,before it was top coated, also don’t see evidence of it being toned in ( stain in the lacquer), let this dry well , then scuff it really well with some 320 , get a good gel stain , personally General finishes , the box store stuff is very weak, that matches the color you want , then go to WD lockwood http://www.toolsforworkingwood.com/Merchant/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=toolshop&Category_Code=CLW
and get a ALCOHOL base dye ,
mix the dye pretty strong and experiment a bit , for color,
here is what we want to do , the lacquer will take the dye somewhat , the alcohol will bite into it , using it like a glaze it will help to color the white spots , and create a base color , as well it will not hide the grain, wipe it quick and fast , you will feel the lacquer get a little sticky , don’t want alot of that, or you will get wipe marks,if you do let it dry scuff it again and redye, use the dye wet , careful not to drip on the white , once you have dyed it let it dry , it will look awful, but the base color will be there , then use the gel as a final stain, it will even out the color and should give you as good as you are going to get , in essence what we are doing is hand toning the lacquer to make a base color to get as equal a background as possible , then applying a layer of color over that to get the achieved look , be careful and experiment some to get the dye ratio correct, it could get very dark very quick, dyes dry looking very light , and the temptation to re wipe has to be avoided , alcohol also dries very fast so work fast on a small section, again do some testing and playing to be sure you have it right , but I really think this will get it squared away , most pros are still smear it on and hope for the best , see it everyday , because someone is in business , doesn’t make them a pro , I cant say what went wrong by the pictures , but I just don’t see 7 attempts and a toner here .. but I could be wrong

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desperate4help

5 posts in 2430 days


#6 posted 04-12-2010 04:13 AM

Wow, that was fast! I guess I came to the right site. After a lot of people shrugging their shoulders and looking dumbfounded, it is amazing to get any kind of response at all. I would have to agree that their is a definite possibility we didn’t sand enough. There was one post we spent a lot of time on as it was exceptionally rough and it turned out by far the best but still not as deep of shade as we wanted. I am going to do some sanding throughout the week and put these suggestions into play. Thanks for all your help and I will update with results and hopefully some new pics.

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studie

618 posts in 2609 days


#7 posted 04-12-2010 06:39 AM

I can’t understand where the where the white stuff is coming from. It looks like old parts that were previously painted, stripped then stained without proper removal of all the paint. I see that in many old houses where you just cant get all the paint out of the open pores in wood like Oak. To get a response from a master like CharlesNeil is awesome, not to downplay the others as good advise too. Since these were new parts and you had the stain matched the contractor is to be held liable for this mess. They should have noted the problems as they started to show up & either corrected them before moving to the next step or STOPPED to consult with you. I can understand if the homeowner has done all the prep work; sanding, staining, painting of the risers ect, and was not done correctly then they (the contractors) should have fixed it before and or during the job. The results I see are not acceptable & the contractor should fix it for you, at his cost. I know we are all human and things go wrong sometimes, but this looks like a careless job to me. Are they licensed? Did you get references? It makes me so mad when I see a trusted contractor come in, botch a job & then just walk away leaving the homeowner to fix some bad work. We that are professionals rely on referrals and repeat customers, to make you have to fix it is just bad business. I hope this gets fixed for you & congratulations on doing so much work already.

-- $tudie

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desperate4help

5 posts in 2430 days


#8 posted 04-12-2010 09:43 AM

It ended up a tough situation. We started to reach out to contractors and were approached by a family member who referred us to a great buddy of his. Someone he vouched for up and down and we were told that the contractor had completed stairs in most of the new homes in our area. Nice guy, he felt bad and did the job to the best of his ability and it was definitely a sobering experience for him. Long run, it’s probably better he saw that things get real complicated when everything doesn’t go perfectly. That’s when experience makes a huge difference. We are taking a large portion of the blame as we should have at least talked to others or checked references. Another lesson learned for us as well. After all of this advice I feel like I’m tackling this job with my own armoury. :) thanks again for everything!

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