In July, Irvin went to Qatar for a three week long work trip.  For me, this was the perfect opportunity to tackle a project.  We have a spare room which we use as a space for art and music, books, officey things, etc… the fir floors in this room were in terrible condition.  There were big stains, the finish had completely worn off in my many places, not to mention someone painted the room without bothering to lay down drop sheets.  Needless to say it was  big eyesore and something that had been nagging at me since we first moved in.

I had a hard time choosing what type of finish to use, especially as it was to be a surprise for Irvin when he returned.  I definitely didn’t want to choose something he wouldn’t like!  So I scanned the internet for restored fir floors and found some, but surprisingly not too many examples of different finishes.  Hopefully this post can add to that small library of images.  Eventually I was able to narrow it down and bite the bullet on what I thought would work well in our place.  Thanks to Mike at Columbia Industrial Supplies for his help with the decision!

Here are a couple of shots of how the floors looked before.

Fir floors - before

Fir floors - before

I rented a sander from the Home Depot.  They recommended the rectangular oscillating sander – it’s best for beginners because it’s hard to do any damage with it.  Belt sanders are much more aggressive.  Here’s how it looked after sanding.

Fir floors - during sanding

The sanding process begins with a heavy grit sand paper (eg. 40 grit).  After the majority of the floor is sanded with the rented sander, next you use a palm sander to go around the edges with the same sand paper grit.  Then you start with the big sander again and a more moderate sandpaper (eg. 80 grit).  Again, go over the edges with an 80 grit paper as well.  Finally you use the big sander with a fine grit such as 100 or 120 grit.  Finish off using the fine grit sandpaper on the edges.

It was dusty, and wearing a mask made my glasses fog up.  But well worth the approximately 6 hours it took to complete the sanding.

After the sanding was complete, the rental sander was returned and I had renewed my energy with a full night’s rest, it was time to clean up all that dust and move onto finishing.

It’s really important to keep dust particles from landing in wet floor finish.  Just to be safe, I vacuumed the floors thoroughly and went over the walls with a soft dust brush.  Then I wiped all the walls, doors, shelves, trim, lightswitches etc. with a damp cloth.  Finally I did one last round with the vacuum.

I chose Bona products because I was attracted to their low VOC waterborne finishes.  I think there are already enough harmful components in the building materials in this place – when we work on the house I want to start improving that aspect of it as well.  I ended up choosing Bona DTS as the first coat.  It brings out the grain in the wood and gives it a very slight amber tone. It also had better reviews when compared with Bona’s other sealant products.

Applying it was a bit tricky because I had to work quick.  It was also really easy to make mistakes because if you left the applicator sitting on the floor for more than a few seconds it would leave a lasting mark.  Even though I was aware this would happen, I still let it happen a couple of times accidentally – luckily it’s not too noticeable.

The sealant took a few hours to dry completely, even with the windows and doors open and the warm weather we had.

The next step was to apply the two top coats.  I chose Bona Traffic for this part.  It had great reviews for its durability.  This product comes in two parts which you must mix together and then use within 4 hours. Once four hours is over the product no longer works so it was really imperative that the first coat of traffic dried in time to do another coat before the time was up!

Here is the finished product.  Although there are still some blemishes, I am really happy with the result overall and now I’m very keen to do the bedroom and living room floors too!

Fir floors - after

Product list:

Sanders: Home Depot rectangular oscillating sander and Makita electric palm sander

Sandpaper: 40, 80, and 120 grit sandpaper

Floor finishing: Bona DTS and Bona Traffic