April 7, 2015
I know that putting the words “paint” and “wood” together make some people rage. And I understand that. Truly. I grew up in a 200+ year old house, with a mother who dealt antiques and a father who restored furniture, so I do appreciate the beauty of unpainted woodwork, either in a house or in furniture. I also appreciate that there’s an awful lot of mediocre stuff out there that people are protecting under the guise of OMGvintage! when the reality is that it was cheap or mass-produced to begin with. And with painted flooring in particular, I recognize that this actually is a historically accurate way of treating wood flooring, rather than the cheap cop-out decor decision that many seem to see it as these days.
Here’s the bottom line: all wood is not created equal. Or, more accurately, not all wood deserves equal treatment.
I am going off on this tangent because we ended up painting our kitchen floor. And because it was a battle to convince Alex that this was probably our best bet.
After an entire weekend of clearing out the original kitchen flooring, here is what we were left with:
In my fantasy, we would have worked our way down to a beautiful pale wood that we could lovingly oil to preserve the “raw” and untreated look, giving me the Scandinavian floor of my dreams.
The reality is that we were left with a subfloor. One in relatively good shape with nice thick tongue-and-grove boards, sure. But it was still a subfloor, made of low-quality fir (or possibly pine, but I think it’s fir), with areas of slight water staining to boot. There is no way we could get away with just sealing it, because it would look like garbage.
Alex was still really attached to the idea of staining it, so we switched our plan from light to dark, and exchanged our can of white Osmo Professional Color Oil for a can of “tobacco”. I had my doubts, but deep down I still naively expected that this product was going to yield us floors that look like this:
Which is really stupid. That floor oil is a premium product, for sure. But our floor was definitely not a premium substrate. Anyone could tell you that really nice rims aren’t going to turn a 1998 Geo Metro into a Ferrari (true story: I tried). It’s just as ridiculous to assume that a nice floor oil is going to turn a subfloor into a gleaming expanse of hardwood. But damn if we didn’t try.
I got all of the supplies ready, including a buffer pad that attaches to your power drill (sweeeeet! You find something new every day).
Then I did a little test patch to see how the color would look… and my heart sank.
It would not have been the most offensive looking thing in the world. But it would always look like we had stained a subfloor, and I wasn’t about to spend hours buffing in a product that cost me $100 for one liter to look like we had a stained subfloor. So we gave up on that plan (and I steamed for a while over wasting money on a product that I wasn’t going to use).
Sidenote: we certainly could have tried a little harder to make it work. With a little more sanding and additional treatment, we might have been able to make it look better than the test spot. But I know when to admit defeat and move on to the next plan.
The obvious choice to me was to paint the floors. And Alex was NOT in favor of this. He was down to suggesting that we just buy a cheap laminate to stick on top of this, that’s how opposed to floor paint he was. Yo, dude – the whole point of this mini reno was to spend very little money, and hold us over for a year until we gut the whole thing.
Eventually he relented, and I didn’t waste more than 30 seconds before running out to the hardware store to pick up the paint. Painted floors, here we come…. (yes, I did really just write an entire post to justify WHY we are painting our floors, without actually showing any floor paint – that’s next, I promise)