So.. we decided to rip up carpet and plywood to find original planks (pine) in one of the third floor rooms in our 1880 home. Fast forward to save you on reading.. I applied a penetrating oil based minwax stain (dark walnut)..

the floor looks pretty good considering the shape it was in when we started (tried to upload pics but wasn’t working).

The stain has been let to dry for about 4 days now (90° and 80%hum).. we brushed the oil on and wiped it as we went..

Here’s the question.. to the touch the floor feels dry across the room. If I rub a q-tip on the floor, there is some coloring on the q-tip.. is this normal? Does this mean the stain is still wet?

After dealing with the oil/smell/drying time, I really want to get this room done, but don’t want to rush the water based polyurethane before the stain dries obviously.

  • Was there anything on the bottom of the can that needed to be stirred into solution before using it? Minwax is notorious for using solid pigments in their stains. It's an outside possibility but if you wiped too quickly you may have mopped up enough of the binder that the pigment isn't completely adhered to the floor. Try going over an unobtrusive section with a tack cloth then repeating the qtip swab. Aug 4, 2018 at 14:44
  • I’m running to the store in a bit, I’ll pick up some tack cloth and try. If that is the case, would that have a negative impact on the application of the water based poly? Aug 4, 2018 at 15:04
  • 2
    Water based poly is not a good choice for floors. It isn’t hard enough. You’re better off with a true polyurethane designed for floors, and since it shares solvents with the stain you can worry less about the stain being completely dry.
    – paul
    Aug 4, 2018 at 15:54

1 Answer 1


There is a good possibility that the pine boards in a 130 year old house are very dense wood. Old growth timber from that time was quite different from what we experience as "pine" today. As such that type of wood is much less absorbent than even some types of hardwood that you may choose today. The dense wood leaves more of the stain material on the surface as opposed to penetrating and thus longer to dry.

As case in point I used Minwax stain on some oak shelves I built recently. I wanted to use the shelves with just the stained surface without applying a shiny sealer like polyurethane. It took a good 10 days before the stain was completely dry. And that was in west coast spring weather. Such stain in 90° and 80% humidity could very well take longer to fully dry.

  • So you’re saying that it isn’t fully dry if this is the case? Would this have a negative impact on applying water based poly? Aug 4, 2018 at 15:08
  • I am saying there is a possibility that it is not dry. Also I did not address the poly finish compatibility because I have no direct experience with something like your situation. There are two things you could check. 1) See if there were application temperature range recommendations on the stain can directions. If you worked outside the recommended range you could expect the stain to not work in the optimal way. 2) Find a non obvious corner of your floor to do a small test area application of the poly to see what happens. Do make sure that the application area is super clean and dust free.
    – Michael Karas
    Aug 4, 2018 at 15:18
  • +1, all correct. I will add that there is also the possibility that you applied too much stain. Minwax specifically warns against leaving unabsorbed stain on the surface to dry; I would start at a far wall and wipe the entire floor down with rags to remove all unabsorbed stain, then wait again. P.S.- there is no problem using water-based poly over oil stain except for some stains that specifically tell you not to (read stain label, but I do not think Minwax dark Walnut is one of those). Aug 4, 2018 at 16:37
  • So, I did what you advised and took a rag to the entire floor plank by plank. The floor definitely had some stain on the top, but it was minimal.. at most the old T-shirt I used looked like it got dirty.. it wasn’t soaked with stain by any means.. the floor felt a little tiny bit tacky, but I don’t know if that was just because I was a little sweaty.. lol... I have to add also that it’s a third floor room I have a giant floor fan blowing in there and the AC is on, if that matters... so do I just wait it out another few days for it to fully dry? Aug 4, 2018 at 20:01
  • Yeah... I would wait until it's not tacky. High humidity can definitely affect dry time. If you absolutely can't wait then try a small sample of a single coat of your water base poly in an out of the way corner; if it beads up like rain on a freshly waxed car then wipe it off with a damp rag and wait some more. Aug 5, 2018 at 0:02

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