I have raw oak floorboards which are being individually stained and finished before being laid. For context - this is my first time doing anything like this, so apologies for my lack of technical knowledge. After many experiments I have decided on a reactive stain which is a combination of two brands that I mixed together to produce a really nice darkish desaturated brown.
During the experiments I found that water popping the grain massively enhances the stain absorption and looks far better and more professional. My problem is in dealing with the raised grain. If I sand after staining (even lightly), this pulls some stain off. If I sand to 120 before applying the stain, the colour actually is still good (I would have thought the pores would have closed up slightly again) but the grain still raises again after staining (although to a lesser extent) and the texture still feels quite rough to the touch.
Ulimately I am looking for the best workflow in going from raw oak to achieving a nice smooth floor finish. Currently my process is this:
- Water pop the boards.
- Without sanding, apply one coat of reactive stain then egalize with a dry brush to remove any excess stain
- Very lightly sand with sanding sponge around 320 grit to remove popped grains, nibs etc.
- Apply thin coat of Osmo Polyx with microfibre roller.
- Repeat step 3.
- Apply thin second coat of Osmo.
That's it. I'm getting a decent finish with a nice colour, but texturally it just feels like it could be softer, smoother, and less 'plasticky' which is part of the reason why I went with a hard wax oil over a polyurethane varnish. I've tried all kinds of application and sanding methods, including using red buffing pads, maroon pads, white pads for application etc. and so far the process above is the best I have. Applying oil with white pads over water based stain is not a good idea btw.
Could anyone suggest where I might be going wrong, and how I might get the best finish with this combination of reactive stain and hard wax oil? I'm a complete amateur and have not made things easy on myself by choosing such an awkward combination of finishes! Yet I love the colour and this could be an awesome floor.
Bonus yet related question: The Polyx oil I bought is called semi-matt 3055, as I wanted barely any gloss- just slightly more than matt. However the final finish appears quite a bit more reflective than the sample I had seen. My guess is because of the darker colour of the wood, stronger reflections are visible. Is there anyway to dull the reflections or will they reduce as the oil cures, or with wear? Or are they stuck like this forever? I regret not buying the matt now.