I stained our hardwood floors one week ago and have let it dry but unfortunately all of it wasn't absorbed. I didn't notice the excess until a few days after I let it dry, and it's quite noticeable:

enter image description here

The wood is roughly 90 years old. I sanded it using 20, then 36, then 80 grit and then stained it. It is not crazy thick wood so it's not able to absorb too much.

My question: Should I just hand sand using 180/200 grit to get the excess stain off and then LIGHTLY re-stain areas that may look lighter than they should? Or should I just poly it?

I just don't think I can afford to re-sand everything again given the wood's thickness, and I'm ok with some areas that don't look perfect given the old is so old.


  • 1
    Did you have any pooling stain on the floor when it was drying? You want the wood to absorb the stain like a sponge. Several coats.
    – masedesign
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 15:46

2 Answers 2


Your picture reveals, to my eyes, an unfortunate situation. The areas where the sun is illuminating the finish reveals that you did not sand enough, the original finish remains and that is the cause of the uneven absorption of the stain. If you really want it to look right you will need to start over, this time spending more time with the sandpaper, particularly the initial coarse paper. For even staining you need to remove all of the existing surface treatment. Sorry... it might help if you rent a drum or vibrating floor sander from a reputable tool rental shop.

  • Alternative would be to just varnish it as-is. If it is sticky you have excess stain that did not completely dry, you need to fix that before varnishing. Read the label of the stain to confirm, but for many petroleum based wood stains you would just wipe it with mineral spirits. Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 3:37
  • I'm pretty certain I sanded it down enough, with about 95% confidence. Could the issue be that the wood is only 1/4 inch thick so it's ability to absorb isn't quite as good? I think I'm going to hire someone to fix.
    – Geesu
    Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 22:18
  • 1
    Wood thickness has nothing to do with it. The stain penetrates maybe 1/16" in most cases. You know this because you just sanded through it yourself. :)
    – isherwood
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 16:35

You didn't wipe off enough stain and just like every one else said you are going to have to fix that problem before you polyurethane it, or if you do the polyurethane will peel off of it 2 months later in those areas. You have to be patient when doing this and pay attention to details.

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