By Burt Bollinger
Replicating someone else’s artwork can be a tall order, especially when the canvas you’re working on is a floor. Colt Kindall, president and founder of Boise Flooring Inc. in Boise, Idaho, learned this firsthand when he assisted on a project first described to him as “anything but straightforward.”
“A client involved in restorations notified me of a situation where a large section of a home’s flooring had been removed due to water damage,” recalls Kindall. “The 700-square-foot floor was an unsanded, homeowner-installed floor that featured a wide assortment of sizes and species. To top it off, pieces of wood also had been stained individually, seemingly at random.”
Kindall’s task would be to lay down a new section of the flooring that closely copied the existing floor’s chaotic pattern. He then would need to restain boards individually.
“When we first arrived, the restoration company was unsure if this was something we’d be able to pull off. There was a serious discussion about simply replacing the entire floor. One side of the floor sat there undamaged, but the other side was simply subfloor where they already had removed the damaged flooring,” explains Kindall. “In speaking with the homeowners, they were absolutely in love with the random look they had created, and they really wanted it back.”
Kindall’s first step was to identify all of the different species, ensuring he had the proper size, grade, and wood species.
“We spent a lot of time determining what wood we needed. Widths ranged from 2 ¼” to 4”, and species were different grades of red oak, white oak, hickory, and maple,” he says.
“I was able to procure wood by working with Intermountain Wood Flooring. We purchased several bundles of each species and then selected individual boards as we installed to try to match the original floor.”
Next, Kindall began the daunting task of creating the new floor to blend with the existing half.
“There was not a pattern in the classic sense, but it wasn’t as easy to replicate as you might think,” says Kindall. “We had to be very careful where we put boards. We had to go off of what was around us to make sure it looked as random as possible. Halfway through the install, we stepped back and saw spots where a different species should go. We’d then do a board replacement on that area we had just completed.”
Then Kindall sanded the entire floor raw to prevent his newly installed wood from clashing with the older, existing floor.
“The original floor had never been sanded, and there were many boards that were actually higher than others,” says Kindall. “The existing floor had also aged, and I knew our new installation would stick out. As such, it was important we sand everything flat and start over from scratch.”
After sanding, Kindall’s next step was restaining, which ended up being one of the most challenging parts of the flooring project.
The 700-square foot floor was an unsanded, homeowner-installed floor that featured a wide assortment of sizes and species. To top it off, pieces of wood also had been stained individually, seemingly at random.
“We taped off individual boards based on photographs we had of the original floor. Because the homeowner was very particular about color, we ended up doing custom blends of Bona stain on-site,” explains Kindall. “We used custom mixtures of stains, including nutmeg, golden oak, rosewood, and red mahogany. We also left some boards raw so our finish would slightly change the color of the flooring.”
Because so many boards were stained individually, he knew he would have to tape them off individually and then attempt to recreate those colors again.
“We attacked the floor one section at a time because we had so many different colors we were using,” says Kindall. “We went through what seemed to be 20 rolls of blue tape.”
Kindall soon realized his method of staining individual boards invited a unique set of challenges since so many different colors touched each other from board to board.
“We would tape off a board, stain it, remove the tape, tape off the board next to it, and stain it. It was a meticulous process we had to do with the entire floor,” says Kindall. “There was also a lot of hand sanding and scraping between stains. We would tape off a board, stain it, and then some stain would inevitably find its way underneath the tape. We would have to sand that off by hand.”
With the floor laid and stain applied, the final step was applying a clear coat oil-based finish from DuraSeal.
“The homeowners were so thankful for what we were able to do. That said, it’s not a project for the faint of heart,” notes Kindall. “My advice for anyone who is ever facing a similar challenge is to plan for a lot more hours than you think it’s going to take. I estimated the hours and tripled it to make sure we were safe. You need to take your time with the tape and attempt to minimize the bleed through as much as possible.”