Resurfacing Background

So about a year ago, I resurfaced my entire upstairs by myself. In the process of doing so, I water popped the floors, went with an oil based stain, and a water based poly. I did one coat of stain and 4 coats of poly. After all was done, I was very pleased with my floors so no complaints. I am providing this backstory to aid with any possible solutions to my problem.


In working on other parts of the house, I accidentally got some paint / grout marks on the floor which would not come off with normal methods of cleaning. I mistakenly used a steam cleaner to which it took off the white marks but also the poly and the stain! :( I know now of course that was a mistake but now I am left with the problem of how to fix the spot without redoing the entire floor again.

What I have tried so far

So far I have done my research on this Stack Exchange as well as forums and such so I taped around the area affected, sanded down to the boards with a fine sand paper, re-waterpopped them (letting it dry overnight like you are supposed to), and then applied stain. I have the same exact stain that I used from when I resurfaced the floors originally so matching up shouldn't be an issue; however, I am having a really hard time matching the patch area to the rest of the room. I can not get it to be dark enough. I have tried multiple coats at 15-20 minutes (highest time on the can says 15) before wiping away but it seems to be making very little if any improvement each cycle.

First time staining after the water popping:

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Second time staining on top of previous:

enter image description here

(I tried my best to take the pictures at the same time of day each day so lighting in the room was roughly the same)


So my question is, what else can I do to make the floors darker / match my original better? Is there a better technique than I am using to do patch jobs like this? I have purposely not done a poly coat because I tried all of this once and then applied poly and the poly made very little difference in shade. I want to of course avoid sanding many times so I don't start to create divots in this spot.

  • I have tried in the past to fix small areas of hard wood flooring and always could see a difference in the shade with the exact same stain , the last few I started with a much larger area and blended to be close enough that most could not tell but I always could. Is it the humidity? Length of time before wiping, did the stain solvent ratio change in the can or just the age, I have never figured it out so I would strip. A larger area and blend the best I could. On jobs I did for a buddy I told him it would be best to strip the entire floor and start over unless the owner wanted to take the risk
    – Ed Beal
    Aug 18, 2017 at 19:09
  • @EdBeal What is your best method for blending? I am ok with it not being perfect. I just don't want the big light spot that I have now
    – Eric F
    Aug 18, 2017 at 19:10
  • I have gone as far as pouring the stain on and wiping away, but usually saturate the cloth and work from the lightest area that needs the most stain to the outside after letting it sit I wipe off in the reverse direction with a clean rag. This method puts the most down in the center and wipes up the most on the outside, it is really trial and error. Really you will always see a blended spot when others cannot. Wish I had more tips but have tried many things and blending by starting heavy has worked at times. Just a note the worst mess I ever made was by trying to dilute the stain and add coats
    – Ed Beal
    Aug 18, 2017 at 19:22

1 Answer 1


You need to treat the touchup in only those three rows affected, working with the grain. You need to sand out, way farther then the affected areas. The area to be repaired will, ideally, be the entire three rows. You should, at least taper the damaged area way way out. Feather it out far, so the stain won't have such a hard line. If that's oil based stain, make sure to wipe the affected area down with paint thinner, really get in there and scrub it out. Keep scrubbing and rinsing until the rag comes up clean.

On the retouchup itself, use a quality china bristle brush, lay the stain on thick. You're just going to have to experiment with how long to let it lay before you wipe it off.

You will always see your repair, for the rest of your life. Your goal needs to be "not as noticeable", rather than "never happened". Sorry about that, but that's the way it is. The job you're tackling is difficult for those of us that do this for a living, let alone someone who does it once or twice in their life.

  • Sounds like my comment , but a China bristle brush will make a difference about the same as Charmin or cheap toilet or brand x toilet paper.
    – Ed Beal
    Aug 18, 2017 at 22:46
  • @EdBeal: Your comment should have probably been an answer. Aug 19, 2017 at 0:39

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