A big milestone was hit last night: the floors are finally complete. All that remains now for the living room, hallway and bedrooms is to install and paint quarter-round molding and touch up the paint here and there.

After my last post, I got the sander returned and floors cleaned. As one can imagine, they have to be very clean in doing this kind of work. I began by sweeping, followed by a very thorough vacuuming. Then I went over everything with a damp (not wet) mop to catch any remaining bits of dust and debris.

Then it was time to lay on the stain. There’s very much a technique to doing it right. I used Minwax Red Mahogany stain, as I wanted a darker floor. For two reasons: first, this floor is very old and has lots of damaged spots in it. By using a darker stain, these damaged places don’t jump out quite as much. And secondly, I wanted a contrast to the bright white trim and relatively light walls.

In the pic above, you can see the application of the stain. I applied it with a brush, then immediately wiped it with a rag. You can also apply it with a rag. Either way, it’s a messy, sloppy job. You want to wear gloves!

One problem ensued. This stuff advertises a 6-8 hour dry time. It was actually closer to 5 days! A lot of factors were probably at work, most prominently were likely the cold weather and the humidity.  On day four I noticed it was mostly dry and on the fifth day, I could walk on it. I wiped it down again with a dry cloth to pick up any powdery residue from the stain.

Then it was time for the polyurethane. It is very important to get the proper polyurethane. If you use an oil-based stain (as the Minwax was) it makes common sense to use an oil-based poly. This was one of the learned lessons of this job. I bought a water-based poly, and made one stroke of the brush with it, and it immediately wanted to bead up instead of laying smooth. I wiped it off and went to the store and got the proper kind. (The only reason I got that kind was because they were out of the Minwax brand at the time.) But I got the Minwax Clear Gloss poly, which is oil-based.

This stuff is very messy to work with. It has the consistency of baby oil mixed with Mrs. Butterworth’s syrup!

It also has a tendency to bubble up.

If you look closely you can see a lot of white spots in the photo. These are bubbles. I am not sure why this happens, but it is most prominent in the sections where the grain is dark. It may be reacting to the stain in the wood, and the stain is absorbed more in the dark sections of the grain than the lighter ones. This is heart of pine wood, by the way. I did notice a caution on the can of stain about using certain kinds of finish with that color of stain, something about the pigment is incompatible with some finishes. But this finish was specifically recommended when using it. So, I’m not sure.

But the bubbles happen no matter where you are applying it. It takes a very slow, easy stroke of the brush. I was tempted to use a roller brush, as I’ve heard people do, but I have used this stuff before (and also got bubbles before) so I was leery of doing that.

It took a total of twelve hours to apply it, moving slowly, room by room, slowly backing my way to the kitchen entrance and the back door.

Surprisingly, this stuff dried in no time. It was dry in about 4 hours, enough to walk on.  Then, of course, a second coat is necessary. The wood likes to drink it up in places, so it looks a bit splotchy on the first application. So another marathon twelve-hour application was done last night. Let’s see how it looks…

This is the back bedroom.  You can see the reflections of the windows in on the floor.

And above is the front bedroom.

And above we see the short hallway.

Finally, below, we see the living room and living room extension.

And that’s it. This was a long, tough, and at times agonizing job. Expensive, too. I didn’t even keep track of all the money I spent this month, so now I have to go and dig up my receipts and total it all up. I would estimate a total of over $100.00 on stain, brushes and polyurethane.

And it’s not over yet. Take a look at this:

This looks like the wood was gouged in some way, but it’s insect damage. At first I was thinking it was termite damage from long ago, but the channels where it’s eaten up are too wide, leading me to think it was some kind of wood-boring beetle. At some point I will have to replace this board entirely. I’m unsure how or when; I will have to locate a duplicate three-inch tongue and groove floor-board and then cut this one out. For now, I just took the bucket of polyurethane and poured it in, filling the spaces and making it hard. I might get an area rug to cover it as it is unfortunately in the middle of the floor!

Lastly, here is my next project, once I get the quarter-rounds cut and installed:

This is the old oil furnace for the house. The blower is on the left (air filter sits directly on top of it) and the burner and firebox are on the right; air blows around it and straight up.  Not surprisingly, it produces a nice, warm heat (oil is a fantastic heat fuel; it has more BTU’s per dollar than any other fuel) but the flood I had a few years ago damaged the circuit board. I have the new one now and I’m planning to install it soon.

I will add the figures as soon as I have located my receipts…

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