Staining timber floorboards

After the timber floorboards have been sanded (see our other article on sanding timber floors), the floor timbers can be stained to achieve a darker colour if required.

Staining the floor should be carried out as soon after the sanding is completed while the timber is still clean, free of dirt and grease etc. But wait at least one day between sanding and staining so that any air bourne saw dust will fall to the floor.

Various shades of ready mixed water, spirit and oil based wood stains are available - however the different types cannot be mixed.

Water based wood stains can cause the wood grain to rise, so try this type of staining fluid on a small area of floor to see the effect before starting to stain the whole floor area.

Also check that the type of stain you intend to use is compatible with the floor covering you intend to use.

'Health and Safety'

Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for applications, the information in this article is intended as general guidance only.

When using a spirit based wood stain, ensure that the room is well ventilated and try to choose a day when there is little or no wind to avoid dust being blown in through an open window.

Always wear protective gloves when applying wood stain to avoid getting it on your hands, most wood stains are not harmful (check the manufacturers health and safety guidelines) but will stain your skin.


Give the wood stain liquid a good stir before applying it and, occasionally, while using it - this will avoid the stain pigment dropping to the bottom of the container and the colour changing as the level of the stain in the container falls.

Ensure that the floor is free of dust before starting to apply the stain.

Applying the stain

Start applying the stain to the floor furthest from the door and work your way back to the door - this should mean that you will not need to walk on the stained area before it is dry.

Apply the wood stain to a padded lint free cloth and then use the cloth to apply the stain to the timber, this should give an even coating of stain to the timber. Rub the cloth firmly along the grain of the timber to achieve a uniform shade of colour, keep stepping back to view the stained area to check that the colour has not gradually changed - you may not notice this when working on just a small area. Keep the cloth reasonably damp but adding more stain as required.

Work on one or two floorboards at a time, staining along their length, avoid overlapping onto areas of floor where the stain has already dried - any such overlapping will appear darker after the stain has dried. If you have to interrupt the work, finish staining the length of the floorboard(s) you are working on.

After the whole area of timber floor has been stained, leave it to dry for at least as long as the manufacturer recommends. As the stain dries, it may look rather patchy, this is not unusual and the colour should even itself out as it dries.