Water popping is sometimes called “grain popping” or “popping the grain” or “raising the grain.” In actuality, it doesn’t really pop the grain. Rather it opens the pores for the non-grain part so that the color is darker and closer to the color of the graining. In this instance, we wanted the Dark Walnut to be slightly darker sow we mist water onto the sanded floor. Once it dries, the now raised grains will take the finish a bit darker.
The water popping process has a number of benefits:
It allows the stain to be applied more evenly across the floor.
It darkens the stain color by allowing the grain to absorb more of the pigment.
It helps remove any small remaining sanding marks that may have been missed.
By raising the wood fibers, the finish will penetrate deeper and result in a stronger finish.