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.