Hardwood Floor Installation & Refinishing

Water Popping Wood Floors: A Comprehensive Guide

Many real estate developers & homeowners adore wood’s natural and long-lasting beauty. As it blends with several types of décor flawlessly, owners don’t hang back to choosing it as a flooring option. It is environmentally safe, effortless to clean and maintain, and does not entrap allergens and dust mites; Consequently, the indoor air quality will remain dirt-free.

The wood appears appealing from the outside, but no one knows what can induce issues from the inside. One tried and tested process used on wood flooring to enrich it and prolong its working life is Water Popping. The procedure makes use of a single ingredient, i.e., water, to elevate the appearance of your wood floors. The method is also referred to as ‘grain popping’ or ‘raising the grain’. Let’s discuss more about this concept – What it is, the advantages of using this process, important water popping considerations, a couple of ways to water pop wood floors, cautions when water popping floors, and tools used to carry out this process.

What is Water Popping?

Wood floors are sanded to obtain a flat, smooth, and blemish-free veneer. When sanded down, the planks often go through several passes, starting with coarse grit sandpaper to progressively finer grits. Once the process gets completed, the hardwood becomes fine and extremely smooth, and the grains become closed. As a result, the wooden boards are no longer permeable enough to accept the stain. Since the color won’t penetrate deep into the wood, it can be easily wiped off with a cloth.

The water popping procedure involves applying water to the hardwood floor before the staining process so that grains will re-open, making the wood porous again. Consequently, one can achieve a more even, saturated coloration of the chosen stain.

Advantages of doing water popping on hardwood floors 

  • More intense stain penetration

You desire deep dark floors but imagine what you would do if outcomes emerged a little lighter than what you were expecting.

When the floor grain is closed and the stain doesn’t have enough room to soak in, the final result appears lighter than what you have expected or seen in the sample. Even the stain will wipe off with simple cleaning, creating uneven patches on the floor.

Well, water popping is the secret to achieving dark rich color as it will fully open up the grain, causing the stain to absorb deeper into the wood. 

  • More consistent and even pigment allocation

A minimum of three sanding sequences is used during the hardwood floor refinishing (from coarse to fine paper grits). With each pass, the wood grains close and tighten more. A belt sander, edger, and buffer are used for sanding. Naturally, due to the use of different types of techniques and machines, it is hard to achieve evenness on the floor. Maybe the area of the floor center has more open grain than the edges.

By using the water popping technique, all the floor grain is evened out and equal. Therefore, when the stain is applied, you can achieve consistent and even color allocation — no areas accepting the stain differently, and hence no blotchy floor. 

  • Reduces visible sanding swirls (if any)

Another advantage of water popping is that it removes any remaining sanding swirls.

Of course, sanding is done with the utmost care; still, we can miss some of those tiny sanding scars – particularly when performed using a very aggressive edger.

With water popping, small sanding marks can be blended into the wood fiber, or atleast, one can minimize their effect. If you don’t water pop wood floors, the missed sanding marks will be very much noticeable after staining.  

  • Better & stronger floor finish

The water-popping process raises the wood fiber, resulting in more surface for the finish to penetrate. As the first coat of finish soaks deep into the grain, it offers a much stronger coating than those on closed-grain wood floors.

Crucial Water Popping Considerations

While this procedure is advantageous for a range of wood floors, there are some things that must be taken into account to determine whether this additional effort is required.

  • Wood type

All wood species are different and react differently to stain, depending on the structure of the grain and its density. Some species, like maple, pine, or hickory, may look blotchy when stained, so water-popping these species may help obtain consistent stain results.

  • Drying time

After water popping hardwood floors, leave them, so they become completely dry before starting the staining work. It is recommended to use a moisture meter to determine the right wood state when they are ready for the staining job.

  • Floor color

Water popping procedure enhances the saturation of the stain to develop a darker, even color on each plank. This method isn’t required if you want the wood to reflect the natural stain shade or have a more hard and soft grain contrast.

Once the floor gets dried, move carefully on the water popped floor without shoes to avoid patches.  There is no need for further sanding. Suggestion – do not sand the raised grain to make it smooth again, as it will fritter away your efforts of the water popping.

Tools Used For The Water Popping Method

Before discussing the water popping procedure, here are some major tools that are required to carry out the process with ease.

  • Products for water application – water jug/ sprayer/ wet mop/ bucket to pour the water on the floor
  • Purified water
  • Moisture meter

How to water pop hardwood floors

The procedure can be done in a number of ways – Some prefer water can to pour the water in the direction of the grain and use a T-bar to spread it around the floor. Others use a bucket to disperse water and clean rags to wipe it from the floor. Even one can make use of sprayers to drizzle water on the floor, wet mop, or buffer with a soaked carpet pad.

By employing any of these methods, you can wet the floor evenly. Make sure you will pour a 2-inch line of water. It would be best if you use purified water instead of tap water, which sometimes contains chemicals that may damage the wood. Secondly, test the floor’s moisture content using a moisture meter before the water popping process, so you know when the floor is fully dry before staining. Even/ consistent application of water on the floor is extremely vital to achieving the desired results. You must not overflow water on one section, and then other areas are hardly damp.  Thus, cross-check the floor again to make sure no spots are missed out.

Finally, let the floor dry for atleast two to four hours (also, keep a check using a moisture meter to determine the time when the wood floor returns to its baseline moisture content). The drying time will depend on environmental conditions prevailing in your area, such as temperature, wind circulation, and humidity. As the water dries, your floor will begin to feel gritty, which indicates that the floor is ready to be stained.

In addition, you should scrutinize the floor for any inconsistencies prior to proceeding with the next step. If there is certain unevenness, it indicates that the water was not applied consistently enough, and you need to re-do the sanding work and the water popping process again; otherwise, the floor color may appear blotchy.

Important cautions when water popping floors

The process of water popping seems easier, but it’s crucial to watch out for a few things; otherwise, you have to re-sand your floors again.

– When performing the stain sampling procedure, you should water pop the small patch of floor where you are about to apply the sample. Stain penetrates more deeply on a water-popped floor as opposed to a non-water-popped floor, resulting in deeply dark floors. If you are happy with the sample results, make sure you repeat the process in the same way to get the flawless and consistent results you desire.

– The next thing you should be cautious about is the water application process itself. You need to pour enough water to obtain an even water popped floor, but not too much that might damage the floor or create a splotchy stain. For beginners, it’s advised to either use a T-bar to evenly spread the water or a garden-type sprayer to gently mist the floor with the right amount of water. CONSISTENCY is the key here!

– Always let the floors thoroughly dry after the water popping. If you fail to do so and apply stain on even the slightly damp floors, it will result in a speckled stain appearance. So give your floors ample time to dry, and you can keep a check using a moisture meter.

– A water-popped floor with raised grain is a delicate surface that can be knocked down if additional pressure is applied by dragging a stain can or boots. So you should be extra mindful in terms of walking on the floors because water-popped floors are more susceptible to displaying scuff marks. Also, never go on the floor when they are drying.

– If you’re water-popping a thin veneer that has been sanded too much over the years, you could wrap the edges and end joints. Therefore, it is suggested to carry on the task with utmost care.

The water popping results are remarkable but vary based on a few factors, like the wood type, the amount of water used, and the duration of water drying.

You may find the process simple and think of doing it yourself. Well, anyone can perform it, but not everyone will do it the correct way. Therefore, to prevent any risks and achieve perfect results, the smart move is to approach experts who have been doing this job for years.

Undoubtedly, there can be several service providers available in your nearby marketplace. But how will you discover the right one to do the job? Well, the best way is to read the opinions of former customers, which are available in the form of testimonials. Many service providers will have a separate section of it on their official websites that you can read to identify their credibility. In addition, you can check the service provider’s portfolio. It will help you know their standards of service quality and the types of projects they have handled.

Get in touch with Big Bro Hardwood to get A1 services related to wood flooring

Whether you are seeking a mind-blowing team for a new wood floor installation or to carry out refinishing, repairing, or water popping hardwood floors, we have skill sets and pro members to deliver unparalleled results.

Imagine you have hired a floor installation company considering its lower fees, and it disappears after providing you with shoddy quality services. Does it seem scary? Well, it is! Right?

So, you should not get fooled by someone who just claims to offer the best services. Instead, make reasonable efforts to locate the right contractor to whom you can hand over the task with complete peace of mind. After all, home flooring is one of the huge investments.

At Big Bro Hardwood, our skilled squad has spent years perfecting their techniques. Whether it’s just water popping or a complete refinishing, it has many failure points that could ruin all your effort, time, and money you have put into the project yet. Thus, it is better to entrust the responsibilities to professionals who know the ins and outs of the service and can anticipate the possible risks so that the completion of the project is not delayed.

We are your one-stop destination for hardwood floor services, be it installation, sanding, refinishing, staining, repair, and more. For us, every project is valuable; we strive to be meticulous throughout the project and advise you along every step to maintain transparency and integrity. We even teach you the maintenance techniques to keep your floors always in their pristine condition.

For your information, we always deal directly with the project owner and get your project completed by only our skilled guys. There will not be any involvement of sub-contractors. So what are you waiting for? Call 630 418 4139

We are here to transform your good-looking abode into the most BEAUTIFUL one.