Water Popping Flooring Most Important Pros & Cons In 2021

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water popping flooring - hardwood area

Introducing Water Popping Floor

Water popping is the operation of opening the holes in hardwood floors for a better constant paint entrance. It requires combining water with wood before implementing the paint. It makes the paint or color seem smoother and gives you the opportunity to go a little darker and deeper with very dark colors like ebony, or dark walnut.

This process is sometimes named “raising the grain” or “grain popping”. In reality, it won’t pop the grains. Instead, it exposes the holes for the non-textured part so that the paint is darker and more similar to the color of the texture.

Pros of doing water popping hardwood flooring

1. It makes a more expert appearance and mixtures in sanding results.

2. It makes a more uniform paint color over the entire floor.

3. By increasing the wood grains, the paint and stain enter a little deeper, and this causes an insignificantly stabler surface as well.

4. It makes a darker, more elegant, and more energetic appearance. It goes particularly well on dark floors and gives you the opportunity to obtain a darker color than ebony.

It’s always better to examine the water pop with non-water pop on your house’s wood because the tones will seem different and normally darker. It’s always great to examine it on your floor instead of a sample, both to arrange a more realistic appearance and also to recognize the result on various planks.

The structure of wood

Wood is a natural substance and includes multiple cells that can receive and deliver water. In an existing tree, these cells go together like thin tubes or straws that are called xylem, and these move the water and nutrients throughout the tree.

After harvesting the trees, the boards are humid. Then, they kiln-dried to eliminate the excess humidity. But, the construction of the wood continues whole. And, long after they cut the wood, even a hundred years later, the wood cells remain to receive and release humidity from the situation such as water leaks or floods, humidity in the room, groundwater, pet accidents.

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What is the process of creating a water-popping hardwood floor?

When you combine water with the bare wood before painting it, it increases the holes. This makes the color enter deeper.

Don’t forget that if you have well water or you are living in a place with more chlorine levels in the water, it is more reliable to use filtered water. pollutants can react to the wood or the paint.

It increases the wood fibers enabling the paint to enter much deeper. It occurs in a more expert appearance and does decrease the look of sanding and chatter points.water popping flooring - hardwood area

It’s important to apply an accurate measure of water. If you utilize too much, it will make the wood inflated. It’s also necessary to constantly develop the water over the surface. If it’s rough, it makes the wood seem blotchy in some places. To decrease the risk, most flooring specialists usually use a T-bar. There’s rubber at the end of the T-bar. It will help you develop and share the water more smoothly and quickly.

Remember that there are various forms to do this including utilizing a pot and wool, some people utilize a mop and others utilize a sprayer which is a chemical one to drizzle the floors. Some companies use the bucket system because it is more reliable since you are nearer to the floor.

Next, you leave the floors to dry. Regularly one to four hours or more if it’s humid. It’s okay if you implement the paint on the floors the next day or a few days later, as long as nothing occurs to the floors that make the floors end up such as stepping on floors, placing cloths or furniture on them. However, usually, it is best to combine the paint the same or the other day.

The floor will be harsh and rough at this time and it will no longer be soft like it was before the water pop operation. You need to be certain that this roughness is constant on the whole floor. If there are some soft places or more rough places, it implies that you did not implement the water smoothly or possibly that the floor wasn’t sanded correctly.

From that point, you sand and refinish like you usually do. Make sure that you’re having at least three layers of polyurethane. You’ll require this because the waterproofing floor gives the wood a little roughness. The extra layer of polyurethane plus the additional buffing before that layer will even the floor.

How does this method work?

Throughout the sanding operation, the hardwood floor transforms from being very rough to very soft. It’s regularly prepared in three ways.

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However, during the sanding operation, the textures of the wood get close like sawdust gets caught in some of the holes. It makes the wood thicker and less porous. Therefore, the paint is not consumed as deeply within the wood. And, this is the time that the water popping comes in and assists.

The timing of using a water popping floor?

Normally, you will apply a water pop on an oak wood or white oak floor when you are painting it. It is particularly suggested for the people who are searching to prepare dark hardwood floors and go as dark as it can be because the water pop will give the stain an opportunity to be absorbed more and consequently result in a darker color.

The disadvantages of doing a water pop are primary and principal, it requires more money. Next, it can cause some additional time for the project, usually, a day and third, this is regularly not a great DIY task. Not a great work for unspecialized like handymen, general constructors, etc. Notice that Sanding has to be done by flooring experts, and nearly every job that Hardwood Area has been requested to examine or that had difficulty with it wasn’t done by experts. Therefore, if you are seeking to sand for the first time, do not try this one. And, avoid demanding a non-expert to do it for you. They will make your floors even worse.

The timing you should not use water pop

· Natural

A water pop would be useless if you want to do it naturally, regardless of its sorts. The goal of the water pop is to smooth the paint.

· Non-oak sorts

A water pop will not be operated on most woods that aren’t oak. Do not use a water pop on Brazilian Cherry or Mahogany, Pines, hickory flooring or ash, and, Maple or birch. Actually, in some of these woods, it can cause the paint to become even more spotty.

· Gray or whitewashed colors

While a water pop can be attractive to be done on gray or whitewashed floors, particularly because many constructors are having trouble with gray. You need to combine white and ebony, and if you want a more matte appearance, replace true black color for ebony, therefore combine true black and white.

Applying a water pop OR a conditioner. which one?

There appears to be some uncertainty about utilizing water pop on kinds of wood other than oak. As usual, oak sands and takes paint so simply. Because of the hole formation, water pop improves the paint consumption.

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But many other kinds of wood floors are riskier to sand and paint for different reasons and the paint can become spotty. The most obvious ones are birch and maple. However, ash, hickory, and numerous pines can consume paints roughly. To assist with these varieties, you will need to use a conditioner.water popping flooring - hardwood area

A conditioner will close the holes. So it’s the Reverse impact of a water pop. This decreases the blotchiness in those woods. If you have done a water pop on any of these sorts, it would open up the holes more and make the paint to be even more spotty.

So, I’d suggest a water pop for oak either red or white. And conditioner for maple flooring, pines, birch, Douglas Fir, ash, or hickory. If you want to go natural, then use none of these items.

The risky things about water pop hardwood

1. Painting before drying the floors

Again, an expert will acknowledge how to avoid this.

2. Rough treatment

This will make the floors spotty. getting help from an expert who trains in this will help to avoid the risk.

3. Stepping on the floors

A water pop makes the floors more sensitive, therefore do not step on them! Of course, you must not walk on the floors after the sanding begins, until 24 hours after the latest layer has been implemented.


Consequently, water popping is an excellent way when you are refinishing dark hardwood flooring and require a darker, richer, deeper, and more constant appearance. I’d greatly suggest that you select an expert for this, and if you do, you will require to begin from damages and resand the floors.

It’s always better to examine the appearance with the water pop in order to do the paint with or without the water pop, because it will provide a contrasting color and appearance, and you need to be sure you prefer it, particularly because you will be spending additional money for this level. It may affect which paint color you choose.
I’m hoping that this article replies to your questions on water popping flooring. And also read our other articles here.

Hardwood Area provides services and flooring installation in Thousand Oaks, Malibu, Calabasas, Camarillo, Westlake Village, Agoura Hills, Oxnard, and Ventura in a professional and quality manner.
Hardwood Area is located at The Oaks Mall, 2nd Floor, 474 West Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks, CA, 91360, United States
Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need any further information or free consultation (+1 805-338-6952)

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