T minus one week

Next week we make the jump to the new house.

I’ve been practicing showering in the yard to get ready ’cause barring a miracle, we won’t have a tub or shower. While some may see this as a privation, I like to put things in perspective. When I moved in to the house we are living in now, we didn’t even have a toilet. Not because we live in West Virginia — just because my plumber was a moron. But that is another story from another time. At least the tub is near the bathroom.

Claw Foot Tub in the Hall

For me, today was all about floors. Surprising I know.

This morning I put the first finish coat of tung oil on the upstairs bathroom floor. Unlike the varnish debacle in the music room, this time the oil went down nicely and the results look great. This picture doesn’t really capture it because I took it while the oil was still wet. But the oil penetrated deeply into the wood and the finish looks great.

first coat of tung oil on bathroom floor

Tomorrow I will put down another coat of tung oil and that should be it for the oil. K and I talked today about waxing this floor since it will be a bathroom and we are both a bit curious about what the wax and oil combination will look like. No decision yet.

While I was oiling the bathroom floor, K was floating sheet rock in the kitchen. When she finished her first pass, I started working on refinishing the kitchen floor. This time, I started right in with the belt sander. No screwing around this time.

The floors had a fair amount of tar paper on them that even the vinegar treatment didn’t get off. The result was that the sandpaper would gum up fairly quickly so the rough cut took longer than it otherwise would have. I never got past the 24 grit today so the floors are still very rough but I think tomorrow will go much quicker now that the heavy lifting has been done. Here is a before and after pic.

pre-sanding picture of the kitchen floor

initial sanding of the kitchen floor

The floors certainly will not be pristine but I love the story that the wear and tear tells. Even the old powder post beetle trails which have been buried for decades are part of the story of the house to me. Removing the layers of additions — sticky tile, luan, floor covering, tar paper, old finishes — and then touching the raw wood set in place by unknown craftsmen in 1903 using square-cut nails; that is a connection with the past that many people never get to make. Another reminder of the slow movement of time in this city and the fact that we are part of a chain of being.  I used to feel this in Europe when I walked down a street that people used hundreds of years ago or touched a bar that someone else had touched 3oo years prior. But we are a young country and so our connections with the past are much shallower. Our house is relatively new . . . 1903. Nevertheless, it has a soul. You can feel it when you run your hand across the freshly exposed wood of the old floor.

2 Responses to “T minus one week”
  1. SamF says:

    Geoff –
    Thanks for sharing your tung oil experiences. Were you sanding between each coat of oil? If so, how long were you letting the oil dry/cure? Were you using raw tung oil? thanks for any info

  2. Geoff says:

    Hi Sam, Generally speaking I was not sanding between each coat of oil. I would just let the coat sink in and cure for a day and then apply another coat. Seems like 2 – 3 coats provides a nice finish. From what I read, the goal of the first coat is to penetrate as deeply into the wood as possible so my first coat is cut 2/3 mineral spirits to 1/3 pure tung oil. That way it is thin and can penetrate. After that I go to about 1/2 & 1/2.

    On my latest project I tried substituting Lemon oil for the mineral oil to reduce off-gassing and make it more environmentally friendly. It worked but the finish didn’t seem to cure as hard. I don’t know if that is inherent in using the lemon oil or if I just didn’t get something quite right. Sample of 1 so not very scientific. If anyone has experience with the lemon oil and getting a good finish I’d love to hear it.

    Also on this last project I did sand between coats of oil trying to get a tighter finish. I got a nice finish but I’m not sure it was worth the extra work.

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