A Floor with Patina

We get the question fairly regularly, “What is patina?” Patina is the word for the great colors on the surface of the wood (and metal for that matter) that develop over time. There’s generally not a lot of ways to fake it well. It’s something real that develops over time. It’s a warming of the wood. It’s a deepening of color. Sometimes, it’s a weathering to gray.

White oak and sometimes red oak are amongst the woods the react most favorably over time. Here’s a rustic white oak floor that’s all about patina. This floor was from original floor joists from a barn in Olivia, Minnesota. The only finish applied to this floor was Waterlox brand tung oil. There’s no stain. It’s good old patina applied by Mother Nature.

The original 2-by-8 material was removed from the barn floor joists — full of nails and warped like a boomerangs. As we brought it to the shop, many people (more than usual) said, “what the heck are you going to do with that garbage?” I replied, “We’re going to make a floor — just wait and see.” So, we pulled nails, drilled nails, and otherwise tore the old square nails out. We split the wood into planks then we cut new straight edges. The pieces got a bit narrower and a bit shorter as the warping was removed. Finally, we ran it through our moulder to give us a nice straight edges, a flat back, and a lightly touched surface.

When we installed the floor, we sanded the corners on-site so that we’d have a hand-worked look, not a perfect machine edge. The floor was glued as well as face-nailed with square nails from the Tremont Nail Company.

So here’s the result — a great floor that is the highlight of this old farmhouse remodel. The client was thrilled. She said, “this remodel wouldn’t be the same without the floor. It absolutely makes the whole thing.”

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