Thursday, December 02, 2010

The big birthday reveal, part one.


Brynn's room is finished. Well, mostly. I've still got a bedside table to build and possibly a very simple mural to paint, but she's moved in and to anyone else, it seems finished.

The first part of re-building/re-modeling/re-decorating Brynn's room was the floor. I'm not a fan of carpet. Not one bit. Hard to clean, always seems grungy, made of plastic, held together with chemicals that I don't want in my body (nor in the bodies of my kids). Bleh.

So I tore it out and replaced it with hardwood. Cheap hardwood ($1.09 Lumber Liquidator utility grade oak, to be exact), but hardwood nevertheless. Using a borrowed hardwood nailer (thank you kind neighbors!), Scott and I knocked the floor out in a few days. While I did most of the work myself, I was super happy to have Scott there to swing the hammer in some tight spots. That's not my forte and if it were left totally up to me, we would surely have several holes in the walls from my hammer backswinging skills (or lack thereof).

Utility grade oak is a pain in the rear, but I'm happy with the varied look of it. The bundles were 95% short boards (like 8-14 inches), and almost all of them had big knot holes, cracks, or other issues. It took a lot of studying boards before picking the right ones. And then lots of filling. And some more filling. And lots of sanding and then more filling. I used Timbermate (or TEEM-bah-mayt, if you want to be authentic) wood filler from Woodcraft, which was AWESOME. It is super easy to use, very maleable, and when it starts to dry out, you just add water to thin it back down again. Seriously the best filler I've used in my very short carpentry life. It kicks Elmer's butt, that's for sure. I filled the knots with black Timbermate and the cracks with Red Oak Timbermate tinted with the stain I used on the floor.


For the stain, I used a greenish oil based stain made by Minwax called "Nutmeg." Hoping to neutralize the orange and red tones in the Oak before finishing with tung oil, this seemed like the best option. Now that I've finished, I think I'd probably do it differently next time. The floor is still too red for me (despite the green stain and several coats of greenish brown-tinted tung oil). If I were to do it again, I'd probably go for a super-dark espresso stain which would maybe wipe out that red/orange tone? A bit of a change from my original vision, which was to pickle the floor or paint it white.

Halfway through staining the floor.

So far I love the look and feel of the tung oil finish. It is completely matte and looks antique. The tung oil application required one coat every 24 hours for about five days, so the whole finish took me about a week. You mop on the tung oil, thinned with orange oil or these green-ish mineral spirits (I alternated between the two, depending on what I had on hand). Let the oil sit for fifteen minutes or so, and then go back for your day's leg workout. It reminded me of volleyball practice in high school, where we would have to run up and down the court pushing a towel-wrapped two-by-four along the ground? Bottom up in the air, hands and feet on the floor? Torture. And I did it with my feet wrapped in plastic bags. Really fun stuff. You can walk on a newly oiled floor in bare feet within a few hours, but it takes at least a week to harden up enough for the kind of abuse that heeled shoes or scraping chairs might bring.


There are a few scrapes and scratches under Brynn's desk already (I have no idea what she's been doing down there) but they will go away with a new coat of tung oil. The great thing about a tung oil finish (at least, a 100% tung oil finish) is that it doesn't require re-sanding before finishing it again. Every few years, it requires a coat or two or three of tung oil to keep it in tip-top shape, or so I've read. I guess we shall see.

Tomorrow: the furniture.

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