Smoked oak hotel floor

Location: Abergavenny, Wales.

Property: Medium sized Hotel and Restaurant

Timber: Solid oak wood parquet block

Age: New install

Removed finish: None

Applied finish: Traditional bespoke water stain, shellac seal, primer seal, two coats Bona Traffic HD matt (5 coat system)

Notes: Restaurant floor including reception area was 128 sqm herringbone parquet pattern stained by hand. Business suite was 50 sqm, ballroom was over 100 sqm, bar was 40 sqm we also completed another 120 sqm of rooms and reception / cloakroom areas (only some of which is shown) over the course of two years, plus stairs, skirting, counter tops and handrails amounting to over 450 sqm.

Description: The bar (not shown) was difficult as was the restaurant, smoked oak colour (shown) due to the need to obtain exactly the right colour. I maybe foolishly decided to use a traditional water stain rather than an easier but less natural looking nitro stain which on such a large area was incredibly hard technically to pull off and I only just got away with it. The result, which my very poor pictures do not begin to show was dramatic and quite stunning. This gallery probably shows the greatest disparity between real life and the photographs which were poor even by my standards as the light was very bad, ideally the room would need to have been painted and professionally lit to take decent pictures, the pictures of the smaller 28sqm reception area came out slightly better. The specification I drew up included five coats applied very generously to give the best protection possible. Lost revenue attributed to closing of areas for maintenance or refurbishment in commercial premises often far exceeds any cost savings made from cheaper, less durable and less professionally executed finishing. That is before the unquantifiable reduction in stress is factored in.

You can see the large amount of tools and equipment required to undertake this sort of job, what you cannot see is how uneven the floor was before we started as the hotel got their own maintenance brigade to undertake the work which they did competently but with slightly less than optimal finesse. When a floor is not laid optimally it is very hard, if at all, to get it one hundred percent perfectly flat macroscopically, the problem is we needed one hundred percent smoothness, microscopically! Water staining shows up every mark or scratch and we were going quite dark so to make sure after the screening with the trio I decided, slightly madly, to go over the whole floor myself on my hands and knees with a six inch random orbital sander / polisher with a powerful head torch. This took over eight hours, literally non stop, there was no other way. You can also see from the pictures that the whole floor was coated by two people with one inch wide zorino shellac polishing mops. People do not believe us when we tell them how we work. It isn’t madness, it’s just doing the best job we can. On jobs like this night turns to day and we work when we can to get things completed in as short time as possible, luckily for us the client was very helpful and thankfully our noise nuisance did not extend to any of the guest room areas.

Due to the nap of wood fibres herringbone parquet can look different tones when viewed from different directions, staining accentuates this. In real life the floor looked three dimensional with one row appearing a dark grey steel smoked oak colour with the other row appearing a warmer richer American black walnut colour. Looking from the opposite direction the colours reversed and walking around the room the colours changed as you walked. Again, due to its chatoyancy and directional reflectivity photographs fail to do wood justice, which is why we love it! Only gem and semi precious stones have similar properties. That’s why we don’t mind working on our knees for hours on end and coating large floors with little brushes.

The ballroom which we completed a couple of years earlier was coated using the same four coat process as the restaurant but without the stain layer. The business suite was also finished like this naturally clear. The other extensive work (not shown) which we carried out included staining and finishing of stairs, handrails, doors, skirting to reception and cloakroom areas along with clear coating of apartments. Much of the work was carried out over bank holidays. Three to five operatives were on site at any one time.

I don’t do adverts and rarely recommend but having stayed there as a ‘guest’ on several occasions during the course of my work and having worked in many of the UK’s top hotelsI can say that The Angel Hotel in Abergavenny is probably the nicest hotel I have ever stayed or had the pleasure to work in. The locally sourced Welsh food is especially fantastic and the level of service and warm welcome offered by William and his staff beats all the five star hotels I have come across. Needless to say the man also has excellent taste! The bars, restaurants and lounges are decorated, as are the rooms, to a very high standard managing to be both traditional with a modern twist at the same time. William is a man who declined an extra star rating so he may under promise and over deliver to his guests and also runs a Michelin star restaurant close by. I have few private customers whose personal tastes meet with my own but very few commercial clients. William is one and a visit to his wonderful hotel is well worth it.

I will at some point return and ask for some proper pictures.