What is Water Popping?

What is Water Popping Hardwood Flooring?

Water popping a hardwood floor is a technique used to richen a stain color that is applied to a raw hardwood floor during refinishing if you’re attempting to apply Stain to your Hardwood Flooring. This is something that has to be done when the end result needs to be a dark and even color. Keep in mind, not all stain colors require water popping. The sanding process of your wood floors starts by using a aggressive grit sand-paper to flatten and clean the Hardwood Floor, then progressively climbs to a finer grit to smooth the wood to finish quality specifications; other wise the floor will be rough.


As you sand your Hardwood Floors with finer grits, the tighter the grain and knap fibers of the wood become making the wood less penetrable of any stain. If a dark stain is applied over a freshly sanded “smooth” hardwood floor the pigment cannot penetrate sufficiently to give you the rich dark color scheme. The color will be a pale shade because after the stain is wiped on, it comes back off when the “dry” rag is used to make it even. It’s fair to say water causes wood to swell. Thus by water popping, the closed grain of the wood floor re-opens while maintaining the smoothness required for a quality finish. It allows the stain to “soak” deeper into the open grain of the hardwood, resulting in the dark rich color as intended.

*(Do not use this method to apply lighter stains as it will make them darker… you can always try on a hidden spot to see how it will affect the look of the wood once it dries out.)