Staining pine floor mid brown

Pine floor stained mid brown

Location: Westminster, London.

Property: Georgian terrace.

Timber: Non original new pine boards

Age: Unconfirmed – possibly circa 2005

Removed finish: None

Applied finish: Two coats stain tints, shellac, one thin coat matt lacquer, one coat antique beeswax

Notes: I go to considerable effort before I even accept a job to manage expectations being as open and descriptive as possible but sometimes even this is not enough. This customer was a young artist and changed her mind constantly requiring me to end up hand waxing the floor with a coloured wax to meet her new expectations, which I did!

Description: This floor was a very badly laid newer replacement floor which had not been fitted correctly and was very dirty. The customer wanted a medium stain and she showed me an example via her neighbours house, although preferably smoother. I did smoother painstakingly sanding the floor by hand and after many colour samples in situ we agreed on a colour. After colouring the floor the next day I found overnight she had scrubbed some off with bleach. The next night she hacked out some of the filler. After the floor was finished she changed her mind on the colour. Again. Then she said it was too smooth! No amount of skill and experience can stop humans being human, but they can help resolve problems. Luckily I keep an old tin of Mylands antique brown wax on the van and was able to bring the colour round just enough to make her happy. I sanded and washed the floor again by hand and then applied the wax with fine wire wool to dull the sheen and give a traditional waxed look, this made the colour a more neutral brown.

Reclaimed pine floor fitting

Location: Greenwich, London

Property: Georgian Terrace

Timber: Original period pine board

Age: Circa 1850s

Removed finish: Not applicable – Replaced floor

Applied finish: One coat shellac tint, two coats Junckers matt lacquer

Notes: Remove concrete hearth, salvage original timber, colour match mixture of several different boards

Description: This was indeed a challenge not made any easier by the reclamation yard who supplied short boards of three different types. The original pine boards had previously been replaced over the majority of the floor with very poor quality new boards which didn’t fit properly and had little character and it was therefore decided to fit a reclaimed floor. I managed with a little effort to reuse the very thin original boards around the perimeter which were damaged and covered in lots of paint and bitumen.

The room had subsided, like so many older buildings in London and the height difference both across the length and width of the room required a bit of adjustment. The four different types of boards each required their own particular amount of dimensional modification along with the general regulation across the room axes which was challenging. The four board types were all disparate colours and matching them in involved the use of many colours and tints, some boards receiving four or five tints to bring them ‘into line’. The result looks totally natural, like the floor is totally original and simply cleaned and waxed, that is always my aim, getting there sometimes is a little harder.

All the work was undertaken on hands and knees and by hand, including all sanding, this retained the depth of the fragile original Georgian pine boards and retained some of the three dimensional patination (the undulation of individual boards) The amount of adjustment required coupled with the need to colour individual boards sometimes several times and the removal of nine rubble bags worth of concrete and debris and all the waste wood down two flights of stairs meant this was a somewhat tiring job. The quality of the wood involved was very good and the customer most appreciative so the final result was very pleasing for both of us. Now he and his family have a floor that should last another one hundred and fifty years.

Hand sanded pine floor

Location: Tottenham, London

Property: Late Victorian / Edwardian Terrace

Timber: Original period pine board

Age: Circa 1900

Removed finish: None applied / Bituminous perimeter stain, heavy dirt and plaster

Applied finish: One coat shellac tint, two coats Bona extra matt lacquer

Notes: Very light hand sand keeping all staining, deep scratches and colour

Description: This was very hard work. Due to my experience I knew what it would involve and I only have myself to blame as I frequently seem to accept jobs that few will take on and even fewer who will bother to do them properly. I still haven’t worked out whether this trait is altruistic or a more selfish need to challenge and prove myself, I like to think it is a little of both. Many of these type of jobs involve extra time and effort beyond what can be charged for and so to some extent much of my work is partly a ‘labour of love’. Even though this job was very arduous I knew that from the start and no major surprises ensued so the job progressed happily. It is much more frustrating when problems arise that either you were not expecting or were hoping would not materialise. The customer was adamant they wanted to keep the floor as close to original as possible so minimal wood was removed via hand scraping and sanding using a fine finishing sander. If you look carefully you can see the shadows of bruises and scratches which were preserved. The ones on my hands and knees thankfully were only temporary.

The floor also had considerable worm damage, had been badly repaired in the past and was coated in old oil paint, bituminous stain at the edge and deep ingrained dirt including plaster and rubble from recent building works. Almost all the floor was loose and had to be lifted, shimmed and reaffixed. The pictures only show a fraction of the total boards lifted, repaired or replaced (all with similar reclaimed pine which I sourced and which by a stroke of luck was almost a perfect match) It always makes me smile when customers want a ‘shabby chic’ floor but then get very fussy about badly cut boards and old repairs. This is human nature, which is often amusing, we all have our particular idea of how we want something to look, shabby, but in a particular way. I empathise fully however and so many of the old infilled areas were removed and new reclaimed boards fitted and ‘staggered’ to ‘tie them in’ which is a lot more pleasing to the eye. I don’t like the term ‘shabby chic’ as that implies forced patination that is often unoriginal, I try and finish my floors with a light touch preserving as much original character as possible whilst making them sound, smooth and durable.

I applied a very very light shellac tint  and two hand brushed thin coats of extra matt lacquer, trying to keep my touch as light as possible.

Very often the skill of applying ‘a light touch’ involves the most work, the result, which the pictures taken late at night do not do justice, looks totally natural like it had never been sanded or repaired at all and all that had been done to the floor was a good clean and wax. Customers often ask if I can simply clean and wax their floors but often the answer unfortunately (for both parties) is no, the reasons for which will take another article. All the work was undertaken on hands and knees and was quite arduous but the result was very pleasing, needless to say the customer was delighted.