This spring I received a call from David to confirm how much flooring I needed. A few weeks later I hooked up my trailer and found myself briefly in Love and then out of Love again on the way to his farm. David was not there, but his son Alison had a crew at the mill and his son loaded the trailer with our flooring and some siding for a neighbour near La Ronge. It was a great day for a drive, although the weather forecast was for rain most of the day. I wrapped the load completely and used a cargo net to secure the covering and once again found myself in and out of Love. We arrived home later that evening and I dropped off the siding the next morning and headed off to the House by The River. I had the good fortune to have Sonny, my stepson help unloading the pine into the house onto both floors. It was a bit of a dance with angles each time we negotiated our way up the stairs, but two people made quick work of the load and in the end I had pine positioned on both floors and ready to go. I as anxious to get going with the flooring but allowed three weeks for the wood to acclimatize in the house before tackling the upstairs. I had already done the office floor with maple that I bought from someone who had done their whole house and had about two hundred and fifty square feet left over. I was able to buy the maple at 2.50 a square foot, which was a bargain I couldn’t pass up. I shopped around for a flooring nailer and did a bit of research online about laying hardwood flooring. The commercial grade maple was really easy to work with and went down perfectly. I felt pretty confident about working with the raw pine, but realized that it would be at least twice as much work, as I would be selecting and tightening boards and then sanding and varnishing. When I finally got started on the second floor pine, I was in my element. I loved working with the raw wood, looking at the grain and curves in the boards, making decisions where to cut to make the best use of the material, balancing the pattern of joints, using screws and wooden plugs where the floor needed to be tightened, and watching the pattern unfold . This is an organic process. I covered the floor with brown paper as I worked to protect the surface as I moved tools and material around. When I got to the point of filling in knot holes and depressions in the surface, I took particular pride in removing the paper to see the beautiful natural story of the trees on the floor. There is something about sitting in the middle of something you have created and fine tuning it. I used a mixture of fine pine sawdust and wood glue to make a past and apply to the knots and “catching” spots. I cut 3/8” dowel to use a plugs for the countersunk screw holes I had made for securing and floor boards that showed signs of movement and the starter boards along the wall. After a few weekends of getting the floor to the sanding stage I rented a commercial sander for the weekend and started the final finishing process. The sander was like a large heavy palm sander and worked like a charm. I was a little apprehensive at first about taking off too much material and bought only the finest grit paper they had at the rental store which was 180 grit. I found that I had to work the sander back and forth over the high spots to get them level. I worked in my sock feet to get a feel for the degree of smoothness. As the sander generates considerable dust, I used a vacuum along with the sander. I kept the intake for the vacuum down by the base of the sander and operated each with one hand. The nice thing about the sander was that it seemed to float and work like a polisher or buffer. I was able to easily steer it in any direction with one hand. I went over the floor until I was satisfied with the surface and was able to slide along and dance around in my sock feet with absolutely no fear of picking up a sliver.
When I had vacuumed dust mopped the floor to get it perfectly clean, I was ready for varnish. I used Fletco Varathane Nano Defence hardwood floor finish. This was recommended to my by David Halland as the finish of choice. I was $80.00 a gallon, but well worth the price. I had seen a few different ways of applying the finish coat online and Allison had talked about pouring it onto the floor. I started by pouring the varnish out of the can and using a pad on a sanding pole. I wasn’t entirely happy with the process and found it a little difficult to move things around with the pad, so I defaulted to what I know best, a good old fashioned paint brush. After brushing on the first coat and allowing sufficient drying time, I sanded again, dust mopped the floor and did the second coat. I sanded between all of the coats, using a 220 grit sanding pad on a sanding pole for sanding between final coats. This generates a very fine dust that can easily be picked up with a shop cloth attached to a sanding pole, or a dust mop. I also used a vacuum to ensure that the floor was completely free of dust between coats.
Now I am halfway through the process of laying the pine on the main floor. I am already thinking ahead to the final stairway treatment in a combination of maple and pine. I know that the pine is a softer wood, but I am confident with five or six coats of varnish it will stand up very well. I expect the floor to develop “character” over the years and I am completely comfortable knowing that there will be new bumps and depressions in the floor over time that will only add to it’s charm.
If I were to recommend flooring to anyone at this point, it would without question be pine. If someone asked me if I would like to install their pine floor in the future, I would likely jump at the chance to do this again.