An orange without a peel

Our story so far: We successfully sanded and finished the original wood flooring in the master suite and second floor of the old Methodist church we were turning into our dream home. And then we got to the former sanctuary floor we were converting into our great room.

# # #

Wait, back up, Driftwood turned the floor orange?

Not exactly.

We thought we had settled on Driftwood stain after testing a small area. After investing in a gallon of it, Tyler tried it on a larger area and judged it to be too green. So he sent me back to Sherwin Williams to get more samples. His uncle and I spent nearly two hours there getting three more quarts of custom mixed stain, and still Tyler didn’t like them. Too dark, he decided.

At this point, I refused to go back to get more stain just to have him reject it, so Tyler went. He was a man on a mission, determined to get this enormous floor stained so he could move to another task, so when he was told he’d have to wait a couple of hours to get a custom mix, he chose what he perceived to be a lighter colored stain from off the shelf: Golden Oak. And he had had enough with quarts to test; he bought two gallons of it.

It was our first mistake. It was the wrong color.

He applied Golden Oak to one thousand square feet of 126-year-old sanctuary floor. That was perhaps our second mistake, not taking into account the age and dryness of the floor. It drank up that stain like it was the Sonoran Desert. One hundred percent saturation.

After it had dried and we looked at it the next morning, it was … well, golden oak. Not exactly what we were going for, but not too dark, either. Okay.

So Tyler applied his sticky concoction of Douglas fir sawdust and polyurethane to fill the cracks. That was our third mistake. The polyurethane emphasized the red in the Douglas fir. If you remember your third grade color wheel, you know what you get when you combine yellow and red: Orange. We had combined Golden Oak and red Douglas fir, and the result was as orange as my stepson’s fingers after eating a bag of Cheetos.

orange floor
Here’s a shot from the balcony of our sanctuary floor after a coat of Golden Oak stain and a coat of sawdust-mixed polyurethane.

We tried to like it. We told ourselves it would improve after Tyler light-sanded again. We were committed. We could make this work. I even applied Golden Oak to the edges of the fireplace and the base of the spiral stairway while lying on the floor with a watercolor brush.

After getting an ant’s eye view of the entire expanse during that tedious task, I called Tyler who had stolen a few moments away from the work of the church to attend a local mud bog race.

“I’m sorry, honey, I just have to tell you this,” I said as gently as I could over the roar of the off-road engines. “I hate the floor in the great room. It’s orange. That’s all there is to it. And orange isn’t part of our color scheme. We have to do something about it.”

“You know what this means, don’t you?” he asked with as little rankle as he could pull together. “It means sanding the floors down to the wood again. Is that what you want to do?”

“There are no other options?” I pleaded. “Can’t we try another coat in a different color?”

“No,” he said. “I applied poly to the floor. We’re past the point for another stain. We have to sand it all away.”

“Well, then, yes, I guess so,” I said. “We have to. I hate it. I can’t live with an orange floor.”

It was a mistake that cost us hundreds of dollars in wasted Golden Oak stain, floor sander rental and sandpaper.

Frustrating, no doubt, but not the end of the world.

# # #

Today’s headline could be a punchline in a joke, because if you can’t laugh at yourself, someone else will, right? So this orange walks into a bar. Bartender looks him over, thinks about it and says, “You know, I like you. You got a lot of a peel.”

Tomorrow: If not Driftwood and not Golden Oak, then what color stain? See what we chose here.

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3 thoughts on “An orange without a peel

    • Of course! During the “talking ourselves into liking it” phase, yes. But I struggled to imagine a light gray rug looking nice on that floor. Eventually, horror about the color won out.

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