It's been almost a year since we installed and finished our hardwood floors. Time flies crazy fast!
Like so many of our budget-friendly renovation finds, we scored this engineered hardwood maple flooring on Craigslist in the exact amount we needed. It must have been fate (or Erik's diligent searching). The really cool thing about these floors is that they were made for a floating installation, which saved us the time and money of having to use a nailer. Just some glue, a hammer, a crowbar, and a tapping block was all we needed. In hindsight, some knee pads might have also been nice to have.
We started the install between the living room and kitchen. This allowed us to create a straight center line in a high traffic spot and hide any variations caused by un-square walls in the corners and less noticeable spaces. From there it didn't take us long to get into a groove. With two people we found it most efficient for one of us to configure a few rows at a time and set each piece in place while the other cut the end pieces and applied the glue. We also laid the underlayment as we went to reduce the chance of it getting damaged before the floors were installed. During this whole process, we had to get creative with our furniture, so our bathroom served as the appliance storage closet for the week.
Once the floors were in place, it was time for the finish. We went with Rubio Monocoat Oil Plus 2C in White for its natural ingredients (VOC-free), environment and pet friendly qualities, and it's matte-natural finish. It was extremely easy to apply and is reasonably easy to maintain. The leftover finish was bottled up to be used for any spot fixes down the road. We will probably need to do a refresh every year on high traffic areas, but the beauty of Rubio Monocoat is that any scratch or dirt can be spot-fixed with a light sanding and reapplication. Having two dogs, this was a major selling point. Plus it smells like honey when it's first applied! **Just a note that this is not an affiliated post - we just really liked this floor finish!**
From our experience, we have a few tips on applying this as a floor finish. First, unless you use an orbital sander on a regular basis or have one hanging around, rent one from your local hardware or home improvement store. Second, we found that laying the buffering pads on the floor, filling the center with the finish, then setting the buffer gave the most even application. We started by applying the finish directly to the floors and then buffering over it, but this left streaks from where it was initially applied. Third, test out colors if you can before making your final decision. We were originally planning on a natural finish, but found that the White actually reflected the natural lightness of the maple more accurately, as you can see below.
After two days of crashing with Erik's sister and brother-in-law (thanks guys!), our floors were move-in ready and we are incredibly happy with the results! Check out the video at the end to see the process from start to finish.