Correcting a Pink Tone on a White-Washed Oak Floor

Pros advise on a tricky staining problem. March 26, 2007

I do woodworking as a part-time job and am fairly new to the industry. I installed a rift/quartered white oak floor for a client. She wanted a lighter, white-washed Scandinavian looking finish. I applied a white stain (1 part white to 3 parts clear) and one coat of oil-based finish and the whole floor came out with a definite pink tinge. Do I have to resand and start over (if so, any recommendations to achieve the look she wants?) or can I use a green toner over the current stain and then finish with water-based finish? The kitchen cabinets are walnut and she wants to stay away from any bright yellow or pink/red tones in the floor.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor D:
Don't do anything on the job itself until you work the color and finish system first on sample wood. Obviously, for future reference, this is the way to avoid your problem in the first place.

I'd say the pink hue is coming primarily from the oak, if it were red oak, but if in fact it is white oak as you say, then maybe the stain is a pinkish white. It is probably worth a try to recreate the pink-white on a sample and see what you can do with a light scuff and glaze over with another color and then topcoat.

At the same time, work with some new bare wood samples from scratch and see what results you can make if it turns out you need to start over.

I don't know what materials you have on hand to work with, and it's pretty hard to recommend anything specific anyway, so I might suggest you take your samples and find a paint retailer who services commercial clientele and see if they can help you work this out. Leave the main job alone till you have assured satisfaction with a sample. Don't risk digging the hole deeper.

From contributor B:
It could be that the floor is picking up the colors reflected off the cabinets and other possible wall colors and type of lighting. A sample should always be made and then inspected for appearance in the circumstance of installation.

From contributor C:
I'm not sure you even have white oak at all. White oak is a very uniform tannish brown with no pink at all. I think you have a lighter variety of red oak. A light brown pigment stain with a white wash after drying and sealer will get you close to where you want to be.

From contributor M:
I have had post oak (that is sold as white oak) with a pink or red tint seen as it was sawed. Could be mineral stain from growing site.

From contributor A:
Standard practice for a white wash oak floor, fairly common back in the 80's, is to first bleach with a two part wood bleach. Next, apply white aniline dye in a water or alcohol base, steel wool, then topcoat. Seeing as you've already put on the topcoat, I don't know... Could be that all you need to do is sand through the topcoat and use several applications of bleach. Caution: pretty easy to mess up here.