Something I learned about wood floors.

I have been working for the last 4 months on the remodel of a home. The owners built this house 20 years ago and still loved it and the location but it was looking worn and in need of updating. The main change was that a new and well laid out kitchen was need. The existing kitchen was a U shape: very hard to work in and very hard when you have guests. At first glance it did not appear to be wide enough for an island but then upon seeing the size of the laundry room I realized I could build cabinetry in to the kitchen wall that would give me space for an island. So excited as I saw the plan develop because I knew the result would be a much more functional kitchen.
The interesting part of this project was that the original cabinet maker was still building cabinets, in fact we work together frequently. The orignal trim carpentar is now a remodeling contractor and the person who installed the original hardwood floors was also still in business. Or in other words: many of the original key people could be involved in this remodel which would help make it seamless.
The job proceeded well after much drawing, discussion and material selection. Foremost in the owners mind was that all the finishes “match”. As a designer this is one of the scariest phrases a homeowner can use. I prefer the term blend. I can blend but matching is sometimes impossible.
It took many attempts to get the stain on the cabinets right and to blend with existing cabinetry at the other end of the room So I was not suprised when staining the floors presented challenges. Floor stain is different than cabinet stain, you cannot use cabinet stain on the floors and so again, with the help of a great floor finisher we mixed a stain: 2 parts ginger, 2 parts nutmet and 1 part red sienna which gave us just enough red to blend with the cabinets. This stain worked beautifully on the new red oak floors which we added to the living and dining. Then they started to refinsih the old existing floors. The finish was sanded off, the floors were bare wood and the finsher started his stain. Luckily he started in the entry next to the dining which had new wood and had been finished the week before: the color was totally different. He saw the differnece and stopped. What we learned was that both floors were red oak but because the original floors were 20 years old, had dried out and been finished, they took stain differently. I had never experienced this before. We were able to modify our mix by adding more brown and finally got a great blend. Then though, he faced the newly remodeled kitchen which had new wood mixed with the old where cabinets ahd been torn out. This required an artists touch to actually blend the wood by graining it and painting in some darker accents. Never would anticipated this and may never encounter the problem again. but as with every job: I learned something new!

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