Inexpensive Flooring Ideas

Inexpensive Flooring Ideas


Limed oak has its origins in the mists of time when oak was a common building material. Coating the oak with lime, a powerful caustic material, prevented attack by wood-boring bugs such as woodworm. It was soon noticed that this treatment created an attractive finish in its own right. Today, benign alternatives to lime are used.

The wood must be sanded back first to its bare state. Then dampen the wood with a cloth and use a fine wire brush to ‘rake’ out the grain. Do this by moving the brush gently over the surface in the direction of the grain. The idea is to remove the soft porous woody material that naturally fills the grain without scratching the surface of the wood. Clean the debris off with a damp cloth. Then apply a proprietary liming paste, or a runny paste made from titanium dioxide (available from art suppliers) and water, and brush over the whole surface, finishing off by brushing across the grain. Allow the paste to dry. Gently rub off the dried paste using medium-grade wire wool. It should come off the surface but stay in the grain. Gently clean off any powder on the surface with a barely damp sponge. Allow to dry and then varnish.

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Stains, available in an extensive range of wood shades and brighter colours, effectively alter the colour of wood to tone in with any decorating scheme without altering its woody appearance. Either use a commercial stain or create your own by adding artist’s colour to a varnish that has been diluted by

Bleaching, liming and staining


1 Having dampened the wood, move a wire brush gently over the surface to ‘rake out’ the grain.

2 Brush over the whole surface with the liming paste, working with and against the grain, and finally across it.

3 Rub the dried paste gently with wire wool to remove it from the surface, but leaving it in the grain.

Certain woods, such as pine, cannot be limed, because of the characteristics of their grain. Instead, a pine floor such as this can be given the pale quality of limed wood by a process of bleaching, which actually lightens the wood itself. This look particularly suits the airy atmosphere of a room like this, filled with light and furnished in soft tones.

4 Take a dampish sponge and clean off any remaining powder from the surface before the varnishing stage one third with its appropriate thinner. If you want a very dramatic colour change, though, it is probably easier to use a commercial stain. Colours can be mixed to modify the final shade to suit a particular room. Complex and interesting effects can be created by applying different colours in layers. For example, mahogany stain can sometimes look an artificial purple red but applying a walnut colour over the mahogany will turn it into a rich, warm glow; such a colour could never be achieved by just mixing the two colours together. Try out the colours first on an unwanted scrap piece of wood to ensure that they are right for a particular room; and bear in mind that the same stain can look quite different on different types of wood.

The best way to apply stain is by wiping it on with a rag, working along one board at a time. This will leave a thin colour, so you must build up to the final colour by applying coat after coat until you are happy with the effect. Stains must be protected with varnish, which will bring out the colour of the wood for a deep, glowing effect. If you are using a varnish stain, treat it like varnish and apply it with a brush rather than a rag.

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