7/22/2006

A floor to be proud(er) of

The floor has gone through quite a transformation this week. We went from this:
To this: Back to this:
And finally, to this: We're not done yet, but the first coat of shellac went on beautifully this time. No problems. Of course, it also helps that I did it right... This time around, I used clear shellac. For every 2 cups of 3lb cut I used, I added 1/2 cup of denatured alcohol to thin it. I also made sure to spread it as smoothly as possible from one end of the board to the other (lengthwise). I only did 3 boards at a time this time, and I instead of using the lambswool applicator on the pole, I got down on my hands and knees so I could monitor the coverage more closely. I think that the results speak for themselves, but the floor looks so much better than it did before that I can hardly believe it. The far left side in the picture is still wet, which is why it looks a little darker than the rest of the floor, but everything is a uniform golden color with no splotches or thick spots. The only flaw is a deep scratch that runs the width of the floor, right in the middle of the room. It didn't show up well in the above picture, but it's pretty noticeable in person. I sanded the hell out of it, but it was so deep that it didn't help much. Once we have a rug, though, it should be less visible.

Later today I plan to put on another coat of shellac, this time one-third amber and two-thirds clear. I'd like the floor to be just a little darker and less yellow, but I don't want to lose all the bright happiness of the clear coat. After the second coat, I'll add a third coat of thinned clear before I wax. That should be another adventure, since I've never waxed a floor before in my life. Whee...

I really can't express enough how thrilled I am that the floor turned out this well. After having to re-sand the floors, I was terrified that I'd just ruin them again. I agonized over whether I should just give up the whole shellacking thing and just polyurethane them like everyone suggested. Shayne was supportive of whatever I decided, so long as I would be happy with the results. Everyone else said that the shellac was a bad idea and poly was the way to go, except for my best friend Diana. In the end, I followed my gut and my ideals instead of following the crowd, and I'm so glad I did. The poly-ed floors upstairs just don't have the warmth and natural look that the shellacked floor does.

9 comments:

ben said...

Great job! There really is a lot of warmth and character to the floor - good call on the shellac. Now I'm having second thoughts about what to eventually do with our floors.

Gary said...

You may want to do a coat of amber followed by a coat of clear. Mixing amber with clear and applying a single coat will appear to have no effect. You may end up doing 4 or 5 coats in the end. You may want two of them to be amber.
The floors will darken over time anyway. I use shellac exclusively anymore. I may use thinned down poly to protect the shellac from water. If you wax the poly with super fine steel wool and wax polish it reduces the plastic look. You may want to try that on your other floors.

Paul said...

Looks nice, but a word of caution on the wax--I waxed one of my floors after using shellac, and the wax turned the floor into a skating rink. It was incredibly slippery, and incredibly dangerous. I had to strip off all the wax and then reapply a coat of shellac to restore the finish. Maybe it was just the type of wax I used, but I'd recommend testing a small area with wax before applying it to the entire floor just to make sure it isn't too slippery. I'm guessing you wouldn't want to have to sand the floor again, right?

Di said...

Gary - I'm not sure now if I want to do amber at all. I really like the lightness of the clear, so I might keep recoating with it. Is there any way to tell when you have enough shellac and it's time to wax?

Paul - No more sanding, please! I'm worried about the same thing with the wax, especially on the stairs... What kind did you use?

Paul said...

I used Butcher's wax on top of Zinsser shellac. After I realized how slippery it was I did some research online to see if there was any solution, and what I read made me think that wax on top of shellac is never a good idea, regardless of what kind you use. It wasn't just a little slick--it was dangerously slippery.

After I fixed my floor I decided to just leave the shellac as the top coat, and it's held up fine. I used three coats of amber on my oak floors, and I really like the finish--it looks like honey. But I have used clear on pine furniture I've made, and that's a nice look as well.

Di said...

Paul - Could you shoot me an e-mail at tabbycat1264(at)yahoo.com, please. I have a few more questions about shellac and wax that I'd like to discuss with you, if you don't mind. Thanks!

merideth said...

wow that's just gorgeous! i'm so intimidated by our floors but your results certainly make it seem worth the effort!

Di said...

I can understand the intimidation. I sure was, especially after I screwed the floors up the first time. It's definitely worth it, and (if you do it right!) not too difficult. Good luck!

allison said...

Wow. What a great job on the floor. You obviously put a lot of elbor grease into it. I agree about watching the wax. That stuff can get slippery. You’ve really transformed the room. When will it be finished? (not soon enough, I’m sure!).