Thursday, July 5, 2012

Floor finising

Since It has been so long since I have been able to put time into the house, I decided that I should do something quick with big results. I picked sanding and finishing the floor. I planned on spending last sunday on this and imagined myself watching the finish dry by evening. I should have known better than to think that I could let a simple project be so simple...

Some of you may remember reading way back that I bought this flooring from a sawyer in Rutland for next to nothing. I carted home rough cut oak that had air-dried for an unknown amount of time and spent many days planing, shaping and installing the flooring. Over the past couple of years it has endured many spills, environmental changes and even a short time with a cat named Pete who liked his presence to be known. In that time it has also had plenty of time to finish drying (shrinking). As I sanded the boards down, some of these imperfections vanished while others came to the surface. These imperfections are what make this floor interesting and unique. I am even okay with the ones left by Pete. The last thing I want is a floor that is "perfect" with no character or distinctions. 

The sanding was a longer process than expected. It was too small of a job to warrant renting a floor sander and I couldn't track down a professional edging sander. I ended up using a decent sized random orbital sander which worked well, but slowly. It took three passes- one with 40 grit, a second with 60 and a final with 120. The first pass took me hours since I had to knock down all the ridges between boards and bring them all into the same plane. The other passes went quickly though as I only had to remove the gouges from the rough sand paper. All in all, the sanding happened over a two day period, but the results were encouraging! Note the Purple Heart plugs over the screws on the edge trim.

At this point I could have just picked a finish and completed the project, but since I already exceeded my timeline, I might as well go all out. The first holdup came when deciding what to do with the spaces that opened up between the floorboards. Some are tight but others have as much as a 3/16" gap between them. I love how this looks, but don't like how it feels underfoot and don't want them to constantly fill up with dirt. I have been looking into an epoxy filler made by Advanced Repair Tech ( that supposedly stays flexible and will move with the seasonal expansion of the wood. It can also be tinted. I really like the idea of using a dark color to accentuate the lines. The only problem is the cost. It comes out to nearly $100 for 15 oz of the filler! The kit that comes with all of the proper mixing nozzles and gun retails for $214.95! I would probably need more than 15oz also. So now I am back to square one with this. I am having a hard time picking a shade of finish without knowing what I am doing with the filler. If I can fill the cracks with a dark filler I will probably go with the natural color. If not, I will probably use a dark stain. Either way, I will probably go with an oil and wax finish.

Anyway, while I am muling over my options, I have started to lay out a fibonacci spiral on the floor. The ratio of the length to width of the house are almost exactly the golden ratio- 1.618. With this in mind I had hoped to route a 1/8" spiral into the floor and inlay it with a thin brass strip. A while ago I decided against it in the interest of time, but why not. I am committed to this house. At least it is fun.

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