One of the easier tasks in the run-up to the move was picking out our new floor stain. The original hardwood floors were nice and our seller cleaned them up well before closing. However, with the finish the oak had a yellow/amber tone to them that I wasn’t a fan of.
I had a pretty good idea of the look I was going for. I knew I didn’t want to go too dark, since I was told many times about how hard dark floors are to keep clean; however, knowing I wanted to do the walls in a light gray to brighten the place up, I figured I could get away with a dark brown.
Most of my inspiration came from Pinterest (I’ll wait while you go put on your shocked face):
First I typed in “dark floors” and then “dark floors light gray walls” and noted the names of stains where they were mentioned. Then, during a trip to City Hardware, I took photos of some of the stain options from Minwax. Once I narrowed my choices down to Dark Walnut and Jacobean, I went back to Pinterest and searched for those names specifically to see how other’s floors had turned out.
Having narrowed down our choices, we got in touch with Joe’s cousin, who recommended Eric Rivera to us (see business card below for contact details) and had him come by to see the floors and schedule the work.
We can’t recommend Eric enough. He was flexible with our schedule and very responsive to our questions and his team was careful with our new home. After speaking to him about our wood (Red Oak) and floor stain choices, he told us that the Dark Walnut and Jacobean were pretty similar but the major difference was that the Jacobean would bring out the wood grain a little more. That sealed the deal for us – Jacobean it was!
Eric and his team got started the next morning, taping everything off and commencing with the sanding. We snuck a peak later that night and I couldn’t believe how different the floor looked already with all the finish gone.
The day after that Eric’s team began staining. At this point, we still thought we wouldn’t be moving until the next Friday, which gave us plenty of time to let them dry.
Then, moving disaster struck. We couldn’t hire movers and decided to go about it ourselves, which pushed our furniture move day to five days earlier, Sunday instead of Friday, so we could take advantage of some help from friends and family.
I called Eric in a small panic, worried about timing. He assured me they would be finished by Saturday, though the humidity was making the stain take much longer to dry than expected. By Thursday, with the stain finally dry enough to start applying the finish, Eric and I made a decision to go with a water-based polyurethane.
Eric had been planning on using the oil base, which lasts longer and gives you a shinier, smoother look and feel (which Joe prefers – he loved that about the floor in 700 Grove, at least until it flooded). However, the oil-based poly takes a long time to dry, would have stunk up the entire building, and we really didn’t have any time to hold off.
The beauty of the water-based poly was that it only took and hour or so to dry, so Eric had time to get on four coats easily within our time limit.
By Saturday night we had our floors and we were thrilled not only that Eric and his team came through in our tightened timeline but also with how great they look.
I love how the stain brings out the grain in an almost-black color. I love how the color changes as the light hits it. I love the almost matte look and the feel of the satin finish on my feet and how it has a slight rustic look to it. And I love that the smell was bearable and gone so quickly!
That said, I know why Eric initially wanted to use the oil poly on the floors: It’s much more durable, cheaper and can last up to a decade without refinishing. And if we hadn’t been staining them it would have been even more important – the natural oak would have looked too dull with with the water base. So we’ll have to see how these floors hold up after a few years to know for sure if it was the right call. But for now, we are very pleased.
However, we did already have one mishap. In our time crunch we had to begin moving furniture into the unit on Sunday, only a day after the last coat went on. We tried to be careful, but somehow ended up with a long streak, mussing up the finish.
I don’t mind a floor getting a little beat up. Floors are supposed to be lived on! But this is a pretty obvious flaw. Eric graciously came by and took a look for us and told us that they couldn’t just patch up the scratch because it wouldn’t blend nicely. Our options would be to redo that section or try using a damp microfiber rag to rub it in and take some of the shine off. We’re going to try the latter soon and report back. However, after a few days we have already stopped noticing it so much.
In the meantime we are enjoying sliding around on our new floors and felting up the bottom of every piece of furniture we own.
Here’s a couple before/after pics for comparison: