Monthly Archive for October, 2014

Flooring – the hate….

So, the flooring guy came in to do the entry/kitchen/living room area. Essentially what we want is the same height floor everywhere with no steps, and with no doorway low enough for me to bang my head – sounds easy right? Well, you’d think so, but it isn’t.

He first tackled the kitchen floor and entry floor, replacing everything, including the supporting beams, just so we could get the same height floor everywhere. I hate those stupid tiny steps that are oh-so-common over this way. They drive me mad! And everything looked great after he finished, no step into the guest bathroom, and the kitchen floor has been brought down to a reasonable enough height now that the slate tiles should meet the living room floorboards.

Talking about that, the living room floor is hundred year old, 1.5″ thick floorboards. Ina really wanted to keep those, so I agreed. Since they are really old though, they were looking pretty wavy, and were kinda not fixed to the support beams underneath the floor very well. So anyway, the flooring guy went at them and got them looking great, all nicely even, a very well done job overall I would have to say. We did want the floor stained somehow though – neither Ina nor myself are super mean on the standard wood look – but as typically seems the case here – this flooring guy (a different one from the guy who did upstairs) was completely against adding any type of colour whatsoever, and refused to do it. So we had to work out what to do ourselves.

I wanted it done in a similar style to upstairs, whitened. So I did a LOT of reading to find out all the various methods, the benefits and drawbacks of all the various methods, and then decided on the one to go with. Obviously, I wanted something that wasn’t too difficult – or messy – but something that at the same time gave a good lasting finish. Well, it seems our friends in Scandinavia have ben doing this for years, and apparently psychologically, it’s very healthy for you to have whitened floors in winter since it gives the mind more of a sense of light – instead of the dark depressing tones of Winter. So there were a lot of methods to go through.

  • Limewashing
  • Bleaching
  • Staining
  • Aging
  • Painting
  • Oiling
  • Waxing

I decided to go with waxing, since it is the easiest product to get here in Berlin, as well as the fact that it doesn’t really rely on a particular wood type to work well. It is a semi-transparent wax that lies mostly on the surface, and thus does not rely on the tannin properties of the wood, not the absorptive properties of the grain. You can easily seal it with a couple of coats of clear coat hard wax on top and you’re done.

Or so we thought.

So we went to one of the great hardware houses in Berlin and purchased the products we require, vacuumed and dusted down the raw wood floor, and started to work, rolling on this semi-transparent oil/wax mixture. First problem – you have to get it extremely even on the surface of the wood, otherwise you will end up with light/dark patches everywhere. We managed this, and thanks to the awesome micro fibre rollers we were using, managed this relatively ok. Towards the end of the job, I suggested we close the windows, but Ina preferred them left open. So we left them open and continued on with the work.

I came home that evening to find a living room floor that looked great, apart from the fact that there must have been a kamikaze bug determined on a death upon freshly oiled floorboards. Unfortunately, the surface must have still been wet when it attempted this, because one could see it’s violent throws upon the freshly oiled floorboards all too easily. Oh shit. What to do now. Spot repair?

That’s what we though, just touch up the affected parts and job done – right!? No, I attempted this too early without knowing the dry oily surface was still wet beneath, and managed to make it worse, lifting sections of the coating. Oh shit, shit.

Then I tried to carefully rub off what I’d done in an attempt to clean it up, ready for another try. And you guessed it, only to make it even worse again.

Well, by this point there were quite large sections of exposed wood showing through, and a more serious fix needed to be scheduled. I decided I’d let it dry properly, and come back to the spots with a sander, and get down to the wood again and touch it up from there.

Bad idea, I sanded it back, and rolled on the semi-transparent white oil/wax mixture, only to realise I was not going to be able to blend the edges. I mean, now it looked like two amazingly poorly done floor repairs. What to do!?

I was stressing at this point since I do not want to be responsible for a shit living room floor, especially after all the horror stories the German flooring guys over here have been telling us, I mean, we were living up to their horror stories – that’s for sure. i slept on it, and decided there was only one solution that would really work. Strip the affected boards back to bare wood and redo the finish.

So that’s what we did. Carefully taped up three floorboards, and sanded them back down to bare wood, and then coated them with the oil/wax mixture again – success – the taste is just that great – especially after so much hard work. It would have been such a disappointment if this method also didn’t work….didn’t take too many photos this time. Just seemed to miss the whole horrible event, but you can see some of the evidence below: