There are many methods of how to apply an antique finish to hardwood floors. Stains, glazing and finishes can be applied to existing wood or new wood. For existing finished wood floors the surface must be stripped or sanded to remove wax and dirt build up for the new finish to adhere properly. The old finish doesn’t have to be removed entirely if you wish to keep the old color as a base for applying new stain over it. As with all antique painting or staining you can accomplish any custom color you like by blending different stain and glaze colors or using only one color. From my experience applying two or more colors in separate applications gives the wood floor much more character and is actually easier for hiding old wood color differences or where old floors have imperfections, damage or new repairs.
Before you start to sand or strip the wood floor of the old finish choose an area to make a test sample of color and texture, the best spot for sample is inside of a closet which has the same wood flooring or an area on the main floor where furniture or throw rug will cover your test area. The best way to make sample testing is to use loose pieces of similar wood and make your sample on these as a way to see the different tones of color you can get just by different applications and second coats. Make as many samples as you choose and I would suggest making six to ten sample blocks, testing the different stain colors, multiple coats, semi transparent, solid color and try different glazing colors with clear finishes. The nice thing about applying antique finishes to wood floors or other wood furniture is you have the flexibility to apply additional coats of stain or glazing to even out the total color and graining of the finished product.
Let’s say you have an existing finished wood floor and you want to change the color totally you should use a floor sander or for small areas use a hand held belt sander to remove the old finish and stain. This process is very dusty, so cover doorways and openings with drapes of clear plastic to help contain dust in that room.
Remove base trim or shoe trim as to get in all perimeter edges and protect areas where this floor meets other types of flooring or carpeting. Because you are going to apply an antique finish you need not remove all of the old finish but you must sand enough to remove any old wax or dirt and grime residue. After sanding is complete use a vacuum to clean up dust and then with a water damp cloth wipe entire area of fine dust to prep for applying new stain. For a more natural looking finish use lighter color regular wood stain or a semi transparent stain and for a more dramatic effect start with a darker color stain. Latex base stains, glazing and finishes are preferred as they are low odor, dry relatively fast and still offer flexibility in timing of application.
Plan enough time to complete each step of the stain, glazing and finishing process continuously, do not stop applying stain until the total area is finished and follow this in all applications. When applying don’t stop if you are worried about the color or graining differences, remember you are going for a total look over an entire area and the steps ahead will blend the different colors and hide most of the imperfections to look like the samples you made. Depending on how large the area, apply with a brush, wiping cloth or roller. When applying stain and all wood finishes keep a wet edge and continue in one direction throughout the entire room making the least amount of overlaps onto already stained surface. Lap marks will show up darker if applied to dry edge and in essence have the appearance of two coats at laps.
After applying stain coats apply glazing using the same method and process. If you want a more even color apply to light coats of glazing instead of one. As a general practice in antiquing wood floors or any wood furniture, you will have the most flexibility applying multiple lighter coats rather than one heavy coat of finish and drying times will be much faster. The lets you vary or adjust tones and hues at every step of the antiquing process. Glazing also is more appealing if two coats are applied and adding some glaze to the clear finish is also common. When staining and glazing are complete plan on applying two coats of clear finish in gloss, satin, eggshell or semi gloss sheen. The best clear finish to use for hiding imperfections is satin