There have always been debates among floor finishers as to whether to water pop the floor before staining or not. There is no wrong answer; either way works. The most important element is making sure your client approves a sample color, and you meet their expectations.
Water popping will intensify the depth stains will have and is a more effective way to get deeper, richer tones than the alternative method of applying multiple coats of stain (which is often not recommended by stain manufacturers due to potential adhesion problems).
Also, if you work in a very humid environment or are prone to sweating bullets while working, water popping a floor will eliminate the sweat drop marks, as well as knee and hand prints from sweaty workers. On a popped floor, care must be taken not to scuff or drag anything across the floor. It will crush the grain, and the stain will take light in that area. Resanding by hand and re-water popping to duplicate the process will be required to remove the closed grain mark.
Repairing stained floors can be a challenge if the floors weren’t yours to begin with. What stain did they use and did they water pop or not? A test board can help in that case. Once you identify the stain, water pop half of the board, let it dry and then apply the stain. Look for a good match, and you will know which way to go. Using a test board can also help with determining the final grit that worked the floor as I will discuss next.
Another debate amongst fellow floormen revolves around the tools used for the final sanding process. Buffers, oscillating machines, and multi-disc sanders are all designed to blend the floor together during the final sanding processes which give the contractor a finely sanded surface that will accept stain or finish evenly. Most often it is a personal preference or what they were taught on as to which tools people choose, just like brand names of equipment or trucks.
Multi-disc sanders and oscillating machines are more often used for fine finish sanding and flattening the floor, due to the tighter and often more random scratch patterns along with the variety of pads that can attach to the machine. Some machines are designed to get really close to the wall, reducing edger time. Some people even switch between two varieties of multiheads or machines to get their work done. It is truly amazing that the entire process boils down to personal preferences, with the same objective as the target goal.
Hard plating is an older, more traditional method of employing the final sand, but since most floormen have not been taught to operate them properly, they do not believe the tool is as effective as those above. Some proper training and truly understanding of how the tool should be employed is all that’s needed. It all goes back to personal preference.
I will be in the Tech Zone at Expo, where these similarities and differences will be demonstrated and explored. Come on by and see me!