The process of restoring and refinishing our eastern white pine floors has been, by far, the most complicated and long-running project.
Presently, the floors are completely raw, covered with ramboard for protection. Thankfully, the lengthy process of deciding how to remove the lead paint and then actually removing it is behind us.
What we didn't anticipate was the complexity of the step that would follow.
In the beginning, we had in our minds (for several months) that we would be staining the floors so that they would look aged rather than freshly refinished. This idea lead to an extensive search to find a no-VOC stain.
And we did. Sansin out of Canada.
Of course, we tried about every color they offered and like all water-based stains, there were variabilities - depending on how fine the floor sample was finished, the particular board used, how many coats applied, etc.
Eventually, we decided on a color and our floor refinishers (who were patiently standing by) applied the stain to the upstairs hallway (an inconspicuous place).
Suddenly, we (I) panicked. It felt so dark. Especially compared to the lighter raw wood, which we had grown quite fond of in the interim.
It also felt unnatural and counter to the the historic character of the nearly 200 year old floors to manipulate them with stain to achieve an 'aged' appearance.
So, against the schedule of the floor refinishers and our own 'need to complete one task and move on to another' I said, "I'm going to have to think about this for awhile."
That was many months ago.
What we decided quite quickly was that we did not want to use a stain. We instead wanted to just seal the wood and let the process of natural aging dictate the patina of the floors.
But which product allow us to allow that to happen?
It had to be 'green' of course, yet durable and with a solid reputation. Finding a product that fits this criteria involved a great deal of research that included:
1. Calling many natural building supply stores in the United States
2. Calling the floor finish manufacturers themselves
3. Doing test samples
4. Researching and reviewing feedback from prior users
In the end, this exhaustive search led to Vermont Natural Coatings.
The two sample boards above show their poly whey product in a matte finish. The sample boards are both the same age, but clearly offer different tones.
The variation shown is the wood, not the product. It was our way to be sure to understand what the applied product would offer because although two boards may be side by side, they can have very different coloring due to the inherent nature of the wood.
We like the idea of matte, which, according to Lenore at Vermont Natural Coatings, is just as durable as a satin. It used to be that the higher the sheen the more durable the finish, especially in oil based products. This is not so with their product.
Another selling point was that Vermont Natural Coatings has tremendous customer service. I have spoken to Lenore on numerous occasions. She is not only extremely knowledgeable but very generous with her time (I've called a lot).
The matte sheen, which many companies do not offer, also offers a very organic and raw finish that we really appreciate. I think it offers the least-treated aesthetic.
But the floors will not be completed until the very end, when all the trades (and their sturdy boots) are done doing this and that throughout the house.
August? That's our goal.
Green Floor Products we sampled:
Green Building Supply stores: