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The floors before the sealer, sanding and second coat of stain.

I am floored. After all the troubles preparing the surface of our soft pine floors for the stain, I got it on and then put the sealer on. The sealer was a disaster.

The sealer we used was one of those that forms a plastic-like sheet over the top of the floor. What I did not understand is that if you are making a plastic sheet on your floor it has to be put on like it was a glaze on a cookie. You cannot move it after it is there. Anything you do can make an edge mark and nothing you can do can make them go away once set.

On the positive side where there were no globby edge marks, the floor looked gorgeous. There were so many edge marks that the floor looked perfectly hideous.

I spent hours on the internet trying to figure out how to undo what I did before I tried to do it differently and the only answers I could find were to sand the floor down and start over.

I sanded. This time I used my hand-held orbital sander like I did no the floors downstairs. No shortcuts for me. My orbiter sander/polisher put pock-marks across my whole upstairs floor and the big belt sander I rented to make them go away lightened them but then put big gouges in the floor. Hands and knees for me.

Our floor is wide board pine so uneven boards are a given. If I sanded down to even boards there would be some boards and some communion wafer-thin pieces of wood between them. The seams open and close with the weather–or with sanding. I had a monster of a time dealing with big gaps between boards upstairs. I examined carefully the floors downstairs unwilling to make any of the mistakes I made upstairs. To my relief the boards were much closer together. Until I sanded. Something, maybe the vibration or maybe the heat or maybe some mysterious thing I don’t know pushed the boards apart. I know I am not imagining things. I examined the board closely before, during and after sanding. I thought it was happening on about the 8th board from the wall when I first started sanding. Sure enough. The 11th board did not gap with the 12th until  sanded them.

The gaps are there. We decided against wood filler so we have gaps to decorate. Some of the gaps are the size of the grand canyon and others hardly there at all. Mushing finish into the gaps is frightfully hard but I finally found a technique that works. I take a paintbrush and drool stain between the boards and then use a soft grout brush to scrub the stain into the boards.

Tonight when I went to look at my horribly edge-marked floor, I decided sanding was the way to go. I was going to touch up the stain since I did not need to go all the way to the bare wood on most of the floor. As I went along I discovered that the color and the character that the second coat of stain put on the wood made everything else OK. My gouges and pock-marks and generally sanded out but not completely sanded out edge marks looked like they belonged to the rich, old floor I had produced by accident.

The downstairs floors won’t be the accident that the upstairs are. I know what caused the problems and will avoid making them. The upstairs floors have character. They have a story. The disasters led to corrective action that accidentally led to the graceful beauty of old age.