What is Water-Popping for Hardwood Floors?

Water-popping is a flooring technique designed deepen and darken the stain into the hardwood floors. The result is a more durable and better looking stain.

What is Water-Popping for Hardwood Floors?


Also known as grain-popping or raising the grain, water-popping is a technique used to open up the grain of a hardwood floor to let your stain of choice penetrate the wood more effectively.


Why do I need to water-pop my floors?


Basically, after sanding your hardwoods down, the floors aren’t open or porous enough for the stain to be applied evenly. Essentially, without water-popping, the stain will simply sit atop the hardwood floor and won’t soak into the floor and wood grain.


Applying water to the wood after sanding allows those pores to reopen (or pop) and lets the stain soak in. This also results in a darker and more thorough stain.


A water-popped floor will typically look better over the years even with traffic because that stain is soaked in. Meaning, light scuffs and dings won’t reveal unfinished hardwood that will need to be fixed.


How do I water-pop my floors?


While different pros use different techniques to perform water-popping, essentially you are just putting water on a freshly sanded floor. Don’t be fooled however, it is still a tricky process to perform correctly.


Some may use a T-bar to spread the water around. Some use a misting bottle and some just use a damp towel. The most important point is to ensure you get completely even coverage of the water on the floors. Missing a spot or adding too much water in an area means the stain would be uneven and ruined. If this is the case for your floor, you will have to redo the entire floor.


After the job of water-popping is complete, you need to let the floor dry completely. If you didn’t soak the floor, it should only take a couple hours and you’ll be ready to stain the hardwood.


Even though the floor has just been sanded, you’ll notice after the water is applied, it will look uneven. This is just the water soaking into the wood, causing it to expand. You will probably need to sand once more after your initial stain is soaked into the wood.


Can I water-pop my own floors?


While it is possible to water-pop and stain your own floors, we really recommend having a professional do the work.


The floors can be relatively delicate after the water-popping process. Even though the process is somewhat simple, with multiple high-technique tasks in that process, water-popping and staining is usually a job best left for the professionals. While you may save some cash, a small mistake can easily set you back by making you redo the process. Save your efforts, and use a pro.


We’ve had years of experience working with hardwood floors and water-popping and would be happy to offer advice and our services if needed. You can find our contact info at https://www.grovemanorflooring.com/contact for help with a project.


Overall, water-popping adds quality to your hardwoods and the stain job which will help your floors look newer for much longer. With a stain that has penetrated deeper, the floor should continue to look great even with heavy foot traffic over the years.