Staining Pine Flooring

Dear NH,
I stained some pine flooring without knowing that you need to condition the wood. I have some steps that have dark blotches. What can I do to correct this, if anything?
SW from Cumming, GA

Pine is notorious for staining unevenly because the wood has a very open, absorbent grain that varies widely from board to board, even within the same board, especially when using dark stains. A wood conditioner, a pre-staining wipe, is applied prior to staining to limit the amount of stain absorbed by the more porous areas. Done correctly, this can result in a more even finish characteristic of hardwoods. Read the instructions on the conditioner you purchase since there is a time "window of opportunity" for best results. Waiting too long to stain will diminish the effect of the conditioner since it will evaporate, so watch the time!

Commercial stains don't go very deeply into the wood, so you should be able to decrease the contrast of the darker areas by sanding the surface a bit first with a medium-grit sandpaper (120) and finishing with the finer paper (180-220). Be sure to apply the wood conditioner before restaining.

Unfortunately, chemical wood bleaches (hardware stores sell them) don't have much effect on most commercial wood stains, only on certain types of water and ink stains.

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