Wax Trax

At the end of the last post, we were rinsing and scrubbing, scrubbing and rinsing, after acid-staining the floor. According to the instructions, we had to keep rinsing until no more residue remained. This turned out to be a LOT of scrub-rinse-repeat. Our test patch took eight cycles, and, as it turned out, the entire floor took at least that many.

Cleanup in aisle 7...

After seven or eight times we were bringing up a lot less residue, so we switched to sponge mops thinking it would be easier. Although we spent less time emptying the shop-vac, it still took a long time to mop and rinse the floor, and we had to do so at least four times. We started to wonder if any color would be left at all! Finally, we got all the residue up that we could, and it was time to seal the floor. We got the sealer from the same company as the stain – everything I could find said it’s important to use the sealer specified by the stain manufacturer. The sealer went on with a paint roller:

Signed, sealed, delivered

Notice how much lighter the floor is after scrubbing away all the residue, but before applying the sealer:

I think this sealer really brings out your variegations

Per the instructions, I waited a day or two for the first coat to dry, then applied another. The sealer was pretty easy to apply, but it smelled unbelievably horrible. It smells like one of those silver permanent graffiti markers that make you feel lightheaded, only much much more intense. Had I not been wearing a respirator, I woulda conked out after about two minutes. As it was, when I got back home both nights, I had to head straight for the shower and throw my clothes in the laundry, since the smell permeated everything. It took about a week after that for Nerdwood to be habitable again.

Sealing should only ever need to be done initially, but in order to further protect the finish from scuffs and scratches, a couple of coats of floor wax are in order. This will need to be reapplied at some interval depending on how hard we are on the floor. We’ll probably institute a strict “No skateboards or ice skates” inside the house. Oh, and no golf shoes either (Dan, I’m looking at you). Once again, we got the wax from the same manufacturer as the stain and sealer:

That oughta wax your floor but good!

This stuff I like – doesn’t smell bad, dries within half an hour so I could apply both coats in one day, and easy to apply with a microfiber dust mop.

More curling practice

Whew, what a lot of work! But we’re pretty happy with the way it looks. Even better, it matches the color of the mud here at Nerdwood.

The view from upstairs

All ready for sliding around in our stockinged feet!

 

Positively Radiant

It's a series of tubes

We’re coming into the home stretch now with the foundation. After the plumbing was inspected, we gave Frank the go-ahead (goat head!?) to continue. He poured gravel on top of the plumbing and covered it with sheets of pink styrofoam insulation. The trick here is to insulate enough to keep the concrete floor warm, but still allow some heat to bleed into the ground underneath the house to help prevent the ground from freezing, which would crack the floor. Dave Bach suggested 4″ (R20) of foam around the perimeter, and 2″ (R10) in the center.With his usual dispatch, Frank completed the job in a couple of days, pausing only when a torrential downpour hit on September 22. The next day, Clare and I started stapling pex (a type of plastic) tubing down onto the foam. The pex will be embedded in the concrete floor slab. During the winter, hot water will be pumped through the pex, giving us radiant floor heating. Every single person we have talked to who has radiant floor heat has raved about how great it is, and in our limited experience in other people’s houses, it seems really nice.

Sunset over pex

The two-by-fours in the picture are there to mark rooms – we thought it would be unnecessary to heat the pantry, and we wanted extra heat in the bathroom. The pexing went pretty quickly; we finished in a few days. When we were done, we pressurized the tubing (50 psi) to make sure it wouldn’t leak into the slab when we filled it with water. A few turns of the wrench, and it seemed to hold just fine. Now to call Frank again for the final few steps.