In the last installment, I promised to tell you how we inserted the cherry/maple border around the diagonal boards and how we (finally!) finished our hardwood floor. So here goes.
Once we determined the width of our border, we marked the floor with a Sharpie (see the lines and arrows in the top center of the photo below) and made sure that our diagonal boards exceeded those marks. Then we followed those marks with Frog tape across our diagonal boards to create a guide for cutting off the ends.
After that, we nailed down a guide board (not shown) along the Frog tape; then ran a circular saw against the guide board to ensure a straight line, cutting off the ends of our diagonal boards and creating a nice, smooth edge.
After that, we just placed our border boards, first the cherry row and then two rows of maple. We had already hand-selected which boards were going to go where because we were particular about the look we wanted to achieve.
TIP: A wet/dry vacuum and fans are crucial for this job because once the floor is laid, you have to sand it. Ugh, because sanding = dust. Absolutely. Everywhere.
Before sanding, we filled all the nail holes and gaps between the boards with Timbermate wood filler, which, by the way, stinks to high holy heaven. But it works great, particularly with the Rubio Monocoat, which is why we chose it.
TIP: If you’re going to be staining your hardwood floor, be sure to choose a wood filler that accepts stain.
We rented a sander/buffer from Home Depot — a mediocre tool at best, but it beat sanding the floor by hand. After several rounds of sanding and sweeping, sanding and sweeping, and sanding and sweeping, we dampened some rags with water and wiped down the floor several times (aka water popping the wood — somewhat controversial so do your research first) so that it would more easily accept the stain.
Next, we applied a single coat of Pure (clear) Rubio Monocoat, a two-part molecular bond coat (specially formulated oil finishing/hardener system) that protects and stains hardwood. While still uncommon in the U.S., Rubio is a great product that gives a soft, lustrous, durable low-sheen finish. Because Rubio Monocoat readily forms a bond with the wood surface, we worked in one-third sections at a time. One of us rubbed the Rubio into the edges while the other applied it to the middle of the floor, while commencing the multiple steps of buffing it in using a rented floor polisher.
For the final buffing, we used an old t-shirt to ensure we didn’t leave behind any residue. Then we waited seven days, walking on the floor in only our socks, until the Rubio cured.
Ta da! Installing our hardwood floor was a boatload of work but well worth it. Not only does it look stunning (if I don’t say so myself), but it also feels divine to walk on in bare feet.
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