Surprise flooring under layers of ugly vinyl

kitmuJanuary 31, 2013

Did I mention layers? And layers? I lost count, but I think the demo guys took off 4. All ugly beyond belief. I live in a funky 1939 house with minimal character and am putting in a pretty modern kitchen. I'd been planning---and have actually ordered---linoleum (Armstrong Bamboo Tan) as the flooring, but we have uncovered what appears to be doug fir, mostly in good shape (but someone of course painted it..)

The color of the linoleum was very important to me; it goes with the creamy color of the Caesarstone countertops (the now-discontinued Jerusalem Sand) and sets off the dark wenge cabinets. I don't think the doug fir will go, but I'm also loathe to slather it w/ the cement-like underlayment that is necessary to get a level base for the linoleum.

Anyone have any ideas about whether or not I can stain/bleach/oil or otherwise treat the doug fir to bring it into the creamy tan colorway? Or if having a well-used, rustic floor with a sleek Euro-style kitchen would just look out of place?

I have the name of a good wood floor guy from my contracter who I can talk to, altho I'm pretty sure I know what he will say.

All thoughts welcome!!

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Fori is not pleased

I do think a rustic used floor would look (okay, could look) really good with a sleek eurokitchen. For sure try it!

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 6:51PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Doug fir was often used as a subfloor to linoleum in older homes, so don't assume it's "finish quality". That would be fine as an aesthetic though, as some of the most successful of modern kitchen juxtapose the rough and rustic against the sleek and modern. You might want to beat it up and stain it even more than it is!

Doug fir also has that orangey pink tone that will be VERY difficult to take to a neutral beige tone though. Whitewashing with some green and gray in it might do the trick. But you'll have to find a pro who can do that unless you're willing to experiment a bit yourself.

Or you might want to revisit your color palette to be able to use the natural tones in the wood to work with your dark cabinets. It CAN work, if you get the other elements right. Maybe whiter on the counters instead of beiger, and some subtle color for the walls like a pale lilac or turquoise. Heck, even a big bold shot of color can go with rustic and modern! Just not a yellow beige with orange pink.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 7:05PM
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Hmmm, having more thoughts...

I just used an elastomeric coating on my outside deck and it really looks great; maybe something like that? Or just painting it? That way I'm not destroying the floor and I'm getting the color I want. Of course, I'd be losing the lovely business of the linoleum, which prevents every crumb from showing.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 7:05PM
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when we had a situation like that crop up.....original southern heart pine in a kitchen after removal of "modern flooring"....I wasn't sure what to do, so because it was not too big an area -10 by 14 approx, I just got down and starting working a few planks to see what would happen. Sanded lightly,[didn't have to be stripped], tried some natural stain, then satin polyurethane. Discovered the polyurethane-even the clear had a subtle shading that it delivered which evened out the coloration a bit-so I omitted even natural stain. 4 coats of polyurethane-these days they are waxing the floors I know. In your case-is it a manageable size?-get some marine stripper and plastic scraping tool, as to not gouge the wood and just take the paint off a few planks-it's a lot easier than you think-just messy-work with the grain and go slow.See what you have and look at it for a few days-try some satin polyurethane-water base and see what happens to the tone-it sands off easily if you want to try something else. i've enjoyed the floor-the doug fir is a little more linear-it could well work with a contemp style-the natural coloration can be beautiful...I'd never bother with worrying about the perfect stain color any more with floors in particular when you have something original like that.There will probably be a bit of the paint left in some of the crevices-that might make it more interesting. If you discover you want to proceed after a little test,you can probably get a pro to strip it if you're not into the work yourself or if you want a more pristine result.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 7:12PM
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Had Doug fir in an old apartment. We didn't know what it was til we refinished it. Looked like orange and lemon sherbet with raspberry swirl. Except shiny. Ugh-ly. Pretty soft, too. At least the original builders had the sense to use maple around the perimeter of the room and the fir only in the middle where your rug would cover it.

You can make it look better if you want to. But you can't lay sheet linoleum right over it if that's what you were thinking.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 8:12PM
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Geez, I was just leafing through some magazines while getting my hair done and saw a FANTASTIC modern house with rustic dark-stained wood floors, the kitchen had pale grey lacquer? shiny sleek cabs and a lighter countertop and it was really stunning. It was a rehab of an old building. Maybe it could work for you?

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 8:36PM
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We unearthed Douglas fir floors in our bedrooms and had them refinished, much to the dismay of the flooring guys. We had them stained sort of a chestnut color and they were my favorite floors in the house (unfortunately they were destroyed during our remodel and had to be replaced). Anyway, I loved their texture and look, but I'm not sure how you would get them to color you're talking about.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 8:38PM
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Ha, I saw this earlier and came back to write pretty much what Hollysprings said. So, yeah--that. We have doug fir subfloors too, but they were definitely not designed for prime time (original blueprints called for cement tile--sadly long gone!) It was a really common subfloor wood in the West in the early 20th century because it was so inexpensive.

A couple of other thoughts:

- Fir is beautiful (many of our neighbors have refinished their fir floors) but it is very soft. One neighbor has a large dog and another has a young child; both floors have taken a beating (the dog floor in particular). That's the primary reason we covered ours back up. Better to keep it safe for someone who might want it in the future! I agree that I don't think it would be easy/possible to get it to tan; fir tends towards orange/red. You can stain it but it looks strange (I think, at least--our new-old fir door has a light tan stain of some sort that is supposedly helping to even the grain where there was some variation, but I think just makes it look yellow on top of the reddish fir tones...bleh).

- If you like linoleum, you might look at Marmoleum Click; this is what we chose specifically because it doesn't get glued down, so someone could take it up in the future and refinish the fir. Don't know how their colors compare to Armstrong's, though. We do have another neighbor who laid sheet Marmoleum on the fir, so it can be done but obviously not if you want to preserve the floor for refinishing later. If it's already painted, though, it may not be in great shape underneath. (Ours is a mess and would require some board replacement to refinish; possible but $$. The original builders took no particular care in nail placement or matching grain since it wasn't intended to be used as a finished floor.)

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 11:12PM
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Thanks for the input, guys. The contractor is bringing his belt sander today, so we'll take a look at the color and test the hardness. I pretty much agree with everyone's thoughts that I will never get the color of the doug fir the way I want it (and changing the countertop isn't an option), and I definitely don't want "orange and lemon sherbet with raspberry swirl. Except shiny." (You are too funny, marcolo.) I did look at Marmoleum Click, but the colors weren't quite right.

So, this morning I am thinking that I should either paint it or possibly put a plywood base down before the floor guys put the Matrix underlayment down, that way I'm not destroying the potential of someone else using the wood. However, I do live in the Clampett's house in a neighborhood of large multi-million dollar homes (there are 2 teardowns being rebuilt right now; I'm so sorry for everyone on the street that I'm adding to the overflow of workers and trucks), so my guess is that the next owner will just tear my little house down and build something else. Still, it would make me feel better to not destroy the doug fir...

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 9:45AM
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Other link that discussed douglas fir flooring:

Here is a link that might be useful: Douglas Fir flooring

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 10:17AM
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Don't forget that pine has great tanins in it and responds very well to a vinegar or baking soda wash. It grays it beautifully.

How fun.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 3:56PM
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Also take a look at a quality floor paint like farrow and ball. I see in homes and apartments in London and a colleague whose house in Germany was older than 100 years had a ultra modern kitchen with Gaggenau and page pol and a painted floor. Looked great!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 4:25PM
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Well, the contractor and I looked more closely today, and there are a lot of spots that are damaged and need work. He also had to pull up a section of the floor with rotting boards, so it looks like the doug fir is not usable after all. I also talked to the flooring guy and he said that I was mistaken about the underlayment; it's a plywood-like material, so we won't be ruining the floors any more than they are already by putting a lino layer on top.

So, it looks like the lino is still a go. Thank you all for your invaluable assistance; I'll probably be back with another question soon!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 8:24PM
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