A Stain

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The floorboards have been laid and now we want to finish the floorboards. Doug, from Bunnings tells us how to sand the floors (I should stress I am not promoting any company – purely stuff I found on google that I thought was useful) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6I0AIszrTY . Once the preparation is done then we are ready for the finish. What we are trying to achieve is a black floor that has an oily sheen to it. I have scoured the internet and spoken to companies but there doesn’t seem to be a clear consensus about how to achieve this. but the two approaches seem to be:

1. To stain the raw timber and allow the stain to seep into the timber then cover the timber with an oil finish.
2. To apply a coloured durable surface.

In theory I prefer method 1 because I believe it is a more durable long term solution. The timber is impregnated with colour and over time you continue applying wax and an aged lustre will be maintained. This also seems to be the costlier solution.

My worry with option 2 is that as the surface gets scratched or damaged the pale wood comes through and this is hard to fix.

To choose we sought samples from our floor sander. This was organised badly by me. Samples were prepared but not to the extent I needed, i.e multiple coats applied correctly. Instead the floor sander prepared 3 options, each with just a single coat. Timing was such that we couldn’t prepare each coat adequately. Never-the-less the results were very informative. And can be seen here:


What this shows are 3 different systems applied at the interface between the old baltic floors and the new recycled Victorian ash floors. The stain furthest to the left that is the most solid is a ‘method 2’ surface treatment. The centre stain is a Feast Watson ‘Black Japan’ system (one coat) and the third is an ebonising system from Rubio Monocoat. I will go through each of these in reverse order.

The Rubio Monocoat system is interesting http://www.rubiomonocoat.com/en/index.php (I think under smoked or fumed floor). It is a clear liquid that blackens floors by reacting with the tanins in the wood. Apparently this effect can be achieved with vinegar and iron filings and was done this way historically. Our problem was that the timbers clearly had different tanin levels with the Baltic almost having none. This meant that it didn’t blacken and for us this didn’t work. I imagine on some floors this could be a great solution.

The Feast Watson ‘Black Japan’ system http://www.feastwatson.com.au/InteriorFlooringProjectGuides.asp seeks to copy a traditional effect in Victorian houses where the edges of rooms were blackend and rugs covered the centres of rooms. It uses a stain to seep into the wood, then the wood is waxed or coated. We didn’t give this the chance it should have had by only applying one coat but even with one coat we could see differences in the colour absorbtion between the two types of timber – with Victorian ash being denser and therefore less absorbent. With additional coats perhaps the two types of wood would have looked more similar.

The last patch is a polyeurathane surface treatment that has Feast Watson black tint added to it. It gave the best result with a very similar colouring to both types of timber yet allowing the grain of the wood to come through. In the end we proceeded with this solution. The specification of the finish we used (as explained by the floor sander) was: two coats of Polycure Titan with about 7 – 8% Feat Watson black prooftint followed by a final coat of Durapol low sheen with 5% black prooftint.

The floor is finished and looks like the photo