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Rain Droppin’ & Water Poppin’

Imagine this picture after 3 days of rain. Yes folks, mud, mud and more mud.  It just wasn’t in my cards this week, after almost 2 weeks excavating for the driveway and setting forms, the rains came. Had I just finished a day earlier I would have avoided a 5-day set back due to the weather.  You can see I broke up the huge space by setting the forms in a more modern design for the concrete, it will do wonders for the scale of the driveway and also add an interesting modern touch. Inside the gaps between the slabs I can put river rock, decomposed granite or even a low grass. There wont be any sod in my landscape design, the whole yard will be xeriscaped and planted with drought tolerant native species. The unfinished cmu block retaining walls and large square concrete slabs for stepping blocks will give a real urban mod feel and be perfect for my modern bungalow.

The full custom, flat panel millworks package went in on Monday from Jed at Hollands Custom Kitchens in El Cajon. Full extension, soft close, dove tail, the whole 9 yards. Hollands is rad, great service, quality and they’ve been building cabinets for 35 years here in San Diego. They hand built everything specifically for the house including kitchen and bathrooms. Everything will get finished on site after the install. On the uppers I used grain matching “rift cut” Red Oak. We’ll stain them Golden Pecan to match the floors while the island and lower cabinets will all get painted a dark blueish grey. I’ll contrast the dark lowers by using arctic white quartz countertops with a square eased edge profile and waterfall on one side of the island. In fact the counters, appliances and even carpet upstairs are all waiting to go in as soon as the floors are done.

So you can see a lot was riding on the floor job coming out on time. After 2 days of sanding, the floor guys decided to apply the oil based stain when it was raining outside and 90% humidity. It might have actually worked even though you shouldn’t stain in higher than 60% humidity, but they tried an advanced technique called “water popping” in which you wipe the raw wood with water to raise the grain just prior to staining. This trick is normally reserved for trying to get wood floors to accept a very dark stain or hide scratch marks, in my case it wasn’t necessary since I’m going very light and Red Oak is the easiest material to work with. Soaking the floor with water combined with the high humidity trapped in the moisture under the oil based stain and it dried looking very blotchy. I’ve been doing beautiful Oak floors for years and we never popped the grain, I wouldn’t advise anyone to try it unless you are going very dark or have an absolute professional that has experience with popping the grain doing the work. Needless to say I hired a different company and we are sanding off all the stain and starting over. New 3/4″ Red Oak floors only have enough thickness to refinish about 6 times, its not the best scenario to re-sand new installs twice but they’ll look perfect when we are done and that’s what counts. More on water popping hardwood floors here.

It’s really frustrating to get slowed down at the end of a project, but its just part of the business and being able to react swiftly and find solutions will keep you moving forward. We’ll see if this week works out a little better. See you soon with concrete pics and a complete kitchen. Have a Merry Christmas and thanks for following our projects!

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  1. 8 Comment(s)

  2. By enplaned on Dec 16, 2012 | Reply

    Having a lot of fun reading about your project. Sucks about the weather and the hardwood, but as usual you’re not taking any shortcuts and the results are spectacular.

  3. By Tom on Dec 17, 2012 | Reply

    Glad you are having fun following Enplaned, its getting harder and harder to keep up with the blog these days. I might have some soul searching after this project and flip the site into more of a finished product site. The house is going to be super cool, cant wait to show the finished product. Its really almost done so wont be long. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  4. By Jakob on Dec 17, 2012 | Reply

    Looking awesome. Interesting you went with the colonial style crown molding atop the cabinets. That does seem pretty widespread. I’m wondering how a simple shaker style crown would look to match the baseboards and casing in the rest of the house. Love how you blast through issues and stay positive. Can’t wait to see it done!

  5. By Tom on Dec 17, 2012 | Reply

    Thanks Jacob. I’ve learned to take it as it comes over the years but its still frustrating. Yea I almost went straight flat panel with no crown but thought it was looking a little too simple. Shaker crown would have looked good too.

  6. By Bilgefisher on Dec 17, 2012 | Reply


    Sounds like a tough couple of weeks. You have managed it well.

    On future projects, I would suggest taking a look at synthetic grass. Especially for small projects. I just put in a synthetic lawn at one of my rentals and it came out pretty good. $5/sq ft installed, but only $2.50 for materials.

    Good luck finishing this project, can’t wait to see the final video.


  7. By Tom on Dec 18, 2012 | Reply

    Hey Bilgefisher,

    When things get messed up I get pretty pissed, maybe it doesn’t come through on the blog: )

    The thing is no matter what gets screwed up in construction you can always fix it, so it really just comes down to time (money) lost. I’ll be done in January for sure so perfect timing to move in. The missing components inside are all sourced, ordered and on standby, it will come together quick inside once the floors are redone. We already re-sanded the whole house and stained it today, first coat of clear going on tomorrow. Outside its a breeze with a few fences and some plants after the flat work is finally done.

    “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” Eleanor Roosevelt

  8. By Boltsfan on Dec 20, 2012 | Reply

    looking good Tom, I am enjoying following your progress. I’ve never seen anyone do the water pop on wood floors, only on furniture and with dark stain. I think its an East Coast thing. Most people would have put down engineered wood, cant wait to see them after you are done.

  9. By Tom on Dec 20, 2012 | Reply

    Hey Boltsfan, You get what you pay for I guess. The new stain job is incredible and looks like a showroom!!!!! So stoked. The new contractor applied the stain in a totally different method and its completely even and uniform, info and pics coming soon. Thanks for cruising by again and taking the time to comment.

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