Day 4 (what not to do)
I was way too confident about the staining process. Everything went smoothly the day before, so I just assumed the second coat would be a breeze. This quickly backfired to the point where the stain was so bad, Brent had to re-sand everything the following day, so we could start all over again.
- Wait longer than the 4 to 6 hours to do a second coat
- If a part of the stain is thinner in a certain area, adding more stain to the spot isn't a good idea and can sometimes make things worse
- Stain isn't like an overlay where 2 20% tints equal 40%. Doing 2 coats won't necessarily make the stain any darker – only how long you leave the stain on can do that
Day 5 (starting over)
Friday after work Brent re-sanded the floors. Even when the floors were done being sanded, they were still darker than they originally were because of the stain. Fortunately, the sander was able to even out the color enough that we didn't have to resort to paint thinner.
This time around on staining the stairs, I let the stain stay on for 15 instead of 10. Those extra 5 minutes gave me the color I was looking for – a perfect match to the classic brown floors in the living room. I still find it difficult to understand that 1 15-minute coat was darker than 2 10-minute coats, because that's not the way my graphic-designer brain functions.
After that, the stain had to chill for a minimum of 8 hours.
Day 6 (the waiting game)
Today was my first experience with polyurethane. While it's not as toxic-smelling as the pre-conditioner – it was still bad enough to make me want to finish everything up quickly. I found the poly to be similar to rubber cement not only in consistency, but because it gets sticky quite quickly with the thin coats.
Once the poly is on, you wait for 3 to 4 hours and then do a light sanding. Once this is done, you repeat the process again. Once the wood has been sanded for the second time, you're supposed to wait 24 hours before light use. So that's about 30 hours of waiting. But because Brent and I need to use the stairs (and because we'd have no way of sanding them otherwise), we had to go every other stair. So yes, that's 60 hours of waiting. Fun times.