Best Finish for the Most Natural-Looking White Oak Floors

I don’t know why I’m writing another post about my floors. Probably because it’s been the dark shadow of my existence for the past month until it was recently fixed.

I’m in a much better place now.

In the past 6 months (2 months longer than expected), I have learned a lot through my renovation mistakes. My flooring fiasco is definitely the one that has caused me the most grief.

In my last post, I mentioned that I wanted to capture the beautiful tone of freshly-sanded white oak. I chose the Bona DriFast stain in Birch because it seemed like the best option (of all of the swatches.)

Well, that was lesson #1. Don’t use a stain if you want natural floors.

Lesson #2. Alway listen to your GUT. I really kicked myself for this one. When the flooring contractor my GC used swatched the stains for me, there were some things that should have given me pause.

For instance, the white stain looked horrendous on my floors. I should have known then that their application of stain was too heavy for my taste.

Exhibit 1, see #1

I had other misgivings that I just swept aside because I was so focused on moving the project forward.

Lesson #3. If you don’t like something, stop work immediately. It will NOT get better. I was immediately disappointed after the stain was applied.

It didn’t look like the swatch that was pictured. (I think I could have lived with that.) Instead, it looked like there was a hazy, muddy film over the entire floor. What I hated most was how it covered up the beautiful grain patterns of the wood.

But, for whatever reason, I thought it would look better after it was finished.

I now know that I was in denial.

Two coats of Bona Traffic HD later was a much costlier mistake to fix.

After a lot of angst and grief – because it’s hard to justify refinishing newly finished floors! – I ultimately decided that I would not be able to live with the flooring choices I made.

I scoured the web for the look that I was trying to achieve. I read countless forum posts and blog posts and reviews but I couldn’t find a satisfactory answer.

I finally made a trip to my hardwood flooring supplier and posed the same dilemma. The manager immediately recommended a new product – Loba 2K Invisible Protect AT. He showed me a sample in the store and I was ecstatic.

In the meantime, I also found my own flooring contractor. (I’ll happily give a shout out to Valenti Flooring here.)

They were completely professional to work with and I never doubted their competency. The co-owners, Julia and Phil Valenti, were also far more patient when dealing with me and answering my numerous questions.

Lesson #4. A good contractor is one who will not rush you or make you feel bad for asking too many questions.

This is true of my general contractor. Not true of the sub that he used.

So, the big re-do finally came and I was able to see the new swatches.

From the left: 1) Bona NaturalSeal 2) Bona NordicSeal 3) Bona DriFast White and 4) Loba 2K Invisible Protect AT

The first thing that popped out at me. DOES ANYONE NOTICE WHAT THE WHITE STAIN IS SUPPOSED TO LOOK LIKE?!

The Bona NaturalSeal is what Valenti Flooring usually recommends for people who are looking for a natural tone.

The forums I read suggested Bona NordicSeal.

But Loba 2K Invisible Protect AT was pure magic.

The foreman from Valenti Flooring said he had never used the product before but that he was seriously impressed. It looked exactly like the natural floors! No tone change. Nothing.

Going forward, this is the product he plans to recommend to clients who are looking for the freshly-sanded look.

And now I’m going to bombard you with before (with Bona Birch stain) and after (with Loba 2k Invisible Protect AT) pictures.

The master bedroom had the biggest transformation. It originally looked like there was an oil slick in the middle of the floor. I was told that this was caused by the “lighting.”

The floors in Alexa’s room look so much livelier and brighter. I love the natural beauty of wood and the stain completely covered it up.

I’m glad that there is a contrast between the floors and kitchen cabinets now.

The view into the dining area. This after picture is making the floors looking a lot redder for some reason. You can take my word for it when I say that the floors look less red and even better in person.

A close-up shot after 1 coat of finish. This product is truly amazing.

I had to push our construction timeline back one month because of the flooring situation. I am happy to say that we are now back on track and will be done by the end of this month. I seriously can’t wait for this to be over!

UPDATE 02/20/2018 #1: I have been living with this finish for almost five months now. While I still absolutely love the look and feel of my floors, I can’t recommend it – especially for kitchen/dining room use. Anytime oily food is dropped on the floor, the oil goes right through the finish and stains the wood. This occurs even if the food is picked up and the floor is wiped immediately.

As you can imagine, this is a frequent occurrence in our family of two young kids.

I am additionally disappointed because, over the last three months, I have reached out to the Loba manufacturer via phone and e-mail multiple times regarding this issue. I have given them ample time and opportunity to address this problem and answer my only question – whether this is a known issue with the Loba 2K Invisible Protect AT.

I have failed to receive any direct response on this matter and, as such, can no longer recommend this product or company.

UPDATE 04/02/2018 #2: After I let Loba know about the previous update, I received the following response:

Oil spotting is only possible when the coats of finish are applied too thin or if abraded too aggressively between coats (particularly when using a 2 coat system).

Please understand that we manufacture the finish but do not contract the application of it or have control over those that apply our product.  It is our hope that those contractors will respond to their customers (you) when there is a concern.  Unfortunately the contractor that worked on your floor is not responding to either of us.  And unfortunately we cannot force them to do so.

It turns out that the reason I had such a difficult time in getting a response was partially because they were trying to speak with my flooring contractor first, to no avail.

After this happened – here, I have to give credit where credit is due – Loba agreed to make things right for me. I acknowledge that they are under no obligation to do so as it would appear that the finish was applied incorrectly. However, Loba is contracting with a reputable flooring contractor who will refinish my floors (again!) and properly apply three coats of Loba.

I want to add that I was originally told by the Loba representative that only two coats of the Loba 2K Invisible Protect AT were necessary. However, that recommendation has now changed to three coats because:

We have recently had a number of similar complaints to your own, so we have realized that contractors will use and do as they please, regardless of manufacturers’ recommendations, and then try to blame the product or, in this case, not address the issue at all. So we have decided to get in front of the issue and just say apply 3 coats and then the issues are not issues at all and the finish performs as advertised.

I really have to commend Loba on how they are handling my situation. I will update this post after my floors have been refinished and I truly hope that I can continue to recommend Loba as before.

UPDATE 05/07/18 #3: My floors were finished a week ago and I can already tell that there’s a significant difference. Previously, even water would stain the wood until it evaporated. I thought all of this was normal. Apparently, it’s not.

In case anyone thinks I was exaggerating, this is an example of the many oil stains I was dealing with.

Now, water wipes up easily without leaving any marks and SO FAR NO OIL STAINS. I know it might be a little early to jump to any conclusions but from the second I walked on the floors, I already knew the floors were much better protected. The planks used to feel like raw wood under my feet, now they are silky smooth and rock hard. There is a bit more sheen than before but that’s not an issue for me. I was more concerned about preserving the tone and color of the wood and that has been beautifully accomplished. I dare say the look of it is even better than before!!

I didn’t think I could love my floors more. Apparently, I can. Sans oil stains.

I hope that my experience can be a lesson to others. The first contractor I went with clearly cut corners in applying the product. It was also their first time using Loba 2K Invisible Protect AT. I don’t know if two coats of finish would have achieved the same result, when applied properly. But having three coats of finish gives me total peace of mind.

The contractor who refinished my floors was one of the flooring contractors recommended by Loba. If you are interested in using this product, I would highly suggest that you contact Loba directly to ask for a list of recommended and reputable flooring contractors.

And don’t be like me. Get it done right the first time. With that being said, I’m am so over this saga. I never want to think about refinishing my floors again.

Thank you, Loba, for going above and beyond and giving me the most amazing floors. I’m sorry I ever doubted you.

Absolutely beautiful floors

What do you think of the new floors? Was it worth the trouble I went through to achieve it??

My Daughter Makes Me a Better Mother
Time to Choose a Stain Color for White Oak Flooring

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