Bring­ing It Back

Matte rather than shiny, mel­low rather than bright, wood floors in Arts & Crafts-era homes often fade into the wood­work.

Arts and Crafts Homes - - CONTENTS - by Mary Ellen Pol­son

The pe­riod’s wood floors are mel­low and low key.

Gus­tav stick­ley him­self de­creed that such avant­garde tech­niques as fum­ing with am­mo­nia as well as strong grey-green or black stains were out of place on an Arts & Crafts floor. Floors, he said, should be con­ven­tion­ally fin­ished —mean­ing mul­ti­ple coats of oil-based var­nish—un­til the sur­face was “en­tirely smooth and non­ab­sorbent.”

As for color, a medium tone some­where be­tween dark honey and light cof­fee was the pref­er­ence dur­ing the first decades of the 20th cen­tury. Achiev­ing the de­sired de­gree of smooth, mel­low brown was a sim­ple mat­ter for a floor­ing pro­fes­sional back in the day, but it’s more chal­leng­ing for mod­ern do-it-your­selfers.

For starters, dif­fer­ent woods take stain dif­fer­ently. While many Arts & Crafts floors in for­mal rooms like par­lors and din­ing rooms are oak (a hard­wood), oth­ers are fir or pine (soft­woods). Soft­woods take stain more read­ily but tend to have an un­even grain and in some cases will stain un­evenly, re­sult­ing in pat­terns or blotches.

Hard­woods, es­pe­cially those cut to re­veal fine or dense grain, such as quar­ter-sawn oak, may need mul­ti­ple coats of stain to reach the same depth of color that’s achieved with one or two coats on a soft­wood like East­ern fir.

For that rea­son, test a small, hid­den area first. Not sure which stain will pro­duce the color you want? Do a trial of dif­fer­ent stains or stain com­bi­na­tions on sam­ple boards that closely match the ex­ist­ing floor. (More on pp. 36–37.) a

a Pre­pare the floor­ing to ac­cept the stain. If the floors are in rough con­di­tion, you may need to make two or even three passes with a sander, us­ing pro­gres­sively finer grit sand­pa­per, in or­der to end up with a smooth, stain-ready sur­face. Floors in good con­di­tion may need only a sin­gle scuff­ing with 220-grit sand­pa­per—just be sure you’ve re­moved any ev­i­dence of wax. a Clean the floor. Vac­uum the floor thor­oughly and wipe down just as thor­oughly with tack cloths, chang­ing them as they be­come coated with dust or de­bris. a Dampen the floor with a new wet mop, work­ing from one side of the room to the other. Adding wa­ter to the wood raises the grain which makes it eas­ier for the wood to ab­sorb the stain, but don’t al­low pools of wa­ter to form on the wood. Wring out the mop fre­quently.

If you are work­ing with a soft­wood a like fir, or sus­pect the fin­ish might be ir­reg­u­lar, ap­ply a pre-stain wood con­di­tioner be­fore staining. Sold un­der sev­eral brands, these con­di­tion­ers re­duce the like­li­hood of blotch­i­ness. a Ap­ply the stain lib­er­ally, us­ing a sponge or rag, work­ing with the grain. Again, work from one side of the floor to the other. For the most con­sis­tent look, try to ap­ply the same amount of stain to each board. After ap­ply­ing, al­low about 5 to 10 min­utes rest­ing time, then wipe off any ex­cess stain so that the color pen­e­trates evenly. a Al­low the stained wood to dry fully—at least overnight. If it’s not fully dry be­fore fin­ish­ing, it can smear or smudge when dis­turbed. a Ap­ply the top coat, which can be wa­ter- or oil-based polyurethane, tung oil, or a nat­u­ral fin­ish.

Floors more than a cen­tury old, like those in this Shin­gle Style cot­tage, tend to mel­low over time to a de­sir­able medium tone.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.