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Building a home, week 16: Swedish finishes are a good choice for wood floors

S & W Wood Floors puttied the floors, filling any gaps and cracks before sanding.
S & W Wood Floors puttied the floors, filling any gaps and cracks before sanding.
Cheryl Dangel Bartolini

If you are putting in a hardwood floor, you would be smart to investigate hardwood floor finishes. You are investing a lot of money in your hardwood floors, so you want them to last without having to refinish them every few years. The finish you choose will determine how long your flooring is going to last and how long it will look good. A Swedish finish deliveres on both counts and that is exactly what was applied in week 16 of this ongoing process, “Building a home.”

Photographed from outside, the foyer and hallway is stained and has just one coat of Swedish finish. Two more coats will be added before the floor is completed.
Cheryl Dangel Bartolini

I first became acquainted with Swedish floor finishes in my old house when I had to have an old floor refinished and a new wood floor installed at the same time. The hardwood flooring installer recommended a Swedish floor finish and he was right. The result was gorgeous and it stood up to two dogs. (Read more about choosing a floor finish here.)

In my current residence, I installed brand-new hardwood floors and because I loved my old floors, I asked for a Swedish finish to be applied. This time, my new installer discouraged me from using it because I had a newborn baby and the fumes could be toxic, etc. I didn’t really stop to think that I wasn’t living in the house during the refinishing and allowed myself to be persuaded to go with a waterborne finish. I regretted that decision ever since. The floors did not hold up well and they cannot be spot refinished.

Now that we are building this new house, high on my must-have list was that the floors be sealed with a Swedish finish. Eight weeks ago, we learned that the wood floor installer would not work with the product; he advocated a water-based finish. Having learned the hard way I insisted that our builder, Steve Lecas of Gander Builders, find someone who can refinish the floors with a Swedish finish. Here's what happened in week 8.

I did my own research online and found S & W Wood Floors (Morris, Ill.) Owner Lyle Swan will only use Swedish floor finishes that's how much they believe in them. So this week, the work at the house focused on two areas: finishing the wood flooring inside house and finishing the hardscape in the backyard.So here’s how it all played out:

July 14: Swan of S & W Wood Floors replaced boards in the brand-new floor that they thought were not good enough, and filled in cracks and gaps in others. Then, they started sanding.

July 15: While sanding continues inside, outside Beary Landscaping continues to work on the hardscape patio. It is taking longer than expected because they're trying to deal with the slope of the backyard. You don’t want to have your outdoor dining table sitting on a slant when you are trying to eat.

July 16: S & W Wood Floors is ready to put down the first coat of stain. We meet with them at 8 AM and after having described what I wanted the day before, the first swatch the put on the floor was exactly what we had in mind.

By the end of they day, they had applied stain and the first coat of sealer on the wood floors throughout the house.

July 17: Outside, we had a quick morning meeting with Beary Landscaping to choose a couple of trees to add to the backyard landscaping plan. A team of painters from Mike’s Decorating & Painting (Frankfort, Ill.) worked in the basement to finish up the paint job down there. By the end of day the second coat of sealer with was on the floors and once again the house was off-limits to us.

July 18: Beary Landscaping is busy working in the backyard. Inside the painters are finishing up everywhere--both upstairs and down.

The third and final coat of sealer to the wood floors has been postponed until the balance of the inside work is completed. The closing is scheduled for July 30, so expect a flurry of activity in the next week-and-a-half.

To read this journal from the beginning, click here. To read the update from week 17, click here.

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