How to Stain Hickory Flooring

Hickory is one of the hardest of all hardwoods, as it has a tight grain pattern. Staining the floors brings out this feature, but it's a lengthy procedure, because the surface must be sanded and conditioned to seal any imperfect grain and prevent blotches.

Here are some important tips on how to stain hickory flooring:

  • Sand the surface of the hickory on a hand block with short strokes, always with the grain. Work your way over the whole floor in overlapping courses, taking up most of the surface finish.
  • Vacuum the dust, then repeat the sanding process two more times, with medium and fine sanding belts.
  • Brush wood stain onto the sanded hickory floorboards with a paint brush over the floor a few square feet at a time. Apply the stain heavily enough that it puddles. Let it sit for a minute, then wipe off the excess stain with rags.
  • Note that gel and light stains are preferred for hickory hardwood, as they highlight the grain, while darker stains will hide the contrast for which the hardwood is known.
  • Once the stain has dried, the hickory hardwood should be smoothed with a floor polisher. Apply the polyurethane over the boards in a thin, even layer with the direction of the floorboards.
  • Allow the polyurethane to dry for six hours, then sand the floor by hand with extra-fine sandpaper, using quick, light strokes to dull the surface so the next layer of polyurethane will stick.
  • Hickory hardwood flooring often needs more than one coat of finishing, and the pattern of finishing and sanding should be done as many times as you see fit.

A problem with staining hickory flooring is that it highlights the sanding job, so if the sanding was sloppy, the stain reveals the mistake. So sand your floor carefully.

Another problem may be the floor turns out to be a different color from what you envisioned. You should stain a test panel of the floor before completing the job.

You can also start a fire with rags soaked with oil stain, so be sure to disposed of the rags in a proper disposal container.

Hickory flooring is one of the most popular flooring hardwoods because of its incredible hardness that makes it desirable for active families with young children and pets. Take special care in staining your hickory flooring. Look online for hardwood flooring companies that will provide you with hickory hardwood flooring they can install, stain, and finish. They know how to stain hickory flooring and will assist you in completing the job to create a distinct look for your home.


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