Fume + Stain + Water Based Finish


This was an interesting hardwood flooring project we got to work on recently. Our good friend Arvydas from Arch Remodeling (you can see some other interesting floors we have done for him on this page ), called us up and asked us to rescue this 1,600 square foot floor in a beautiful house north of Chicago.

Spice Brown Stained and Fumed Floor

To say the floor was in a bit of a mess would be quite an understatement. It was very dark, almost black in color, and the finish was very uneven in sheen and the color extremely blotchy. Most likely the previous “refinisher” tinted the final oil based finish coat with stain to try and get a darker shade to cover up his bad staining job.

Below you can see some shots of the floor before we started on it…

Floor Before we Sanded

This shot shows the uneven sheen…

Uneven Sheen

In the picture below you can see how rough shape these floors were in. Look at the gouges and dips the last “floor sander” left in the doorway…

Badly Sanded Wood Floor

On top of refinishing the existing hardwood flooring, we also removed the carpet in a couple of rooms and installed new 4″ white oak quarter sawn flooring to match the original hardwood…

Old Carpet

After sanding the old dark blotchy finish off the floor we were able to see what we were dealing with. There were also various areas that were damaged and needed repairing…

Floor Repair

Another repair that was needed beside the dining room fireplace…

Wood Floor Repair

Below is the original white oak hardwood all sanded and ready to stain…

Sanded Floor in Kitchen

And this is the brand new white oak after installation and sanding…

Floor Ready to Stain

Then we started applying the ‘Fumed’ coat…

Fuming Wood Floor

This is what the Fume application looks like as it’s drying…

Rubio Monocoat Fume Process

The next step was staining. The client chose Spice Brown and we applied it straight on top of the fumed floor. It gave it a beautiful deep rich dark brown color. The floor was then coated with a commercial grade water-based satin finish.

We didn’t get any photos of the staining step but the photos below show the finished product…

Spice Brown Stained and Fumed Floor

This is the old flooring fumed, stained and finished in the kitchen and family room…

Spice Brown Stained and Fumed Floor

This is the new flooring fumed, stained and finished…

Spice Brown Stained and Fumed Floor

One of the biggest challenges with this project was the radiant heat throughout the house. We couldn’t turn the off heat completely because the temperature outside was around zero degrees and snowing while we were working there. But because the hardwood floor was warm, the finishes were drying too fast.

We got it to work well and the finish turned out great, but it sure did keep us on our toes.

Spice Brown Stained and Fumed Floor

Above and below are photos of the living room…

Spice Brown Stained and Fumed Floor

Here is the second story hallway leading into the bedrooms…

Spice Brown Stained and Fumed Floor

And a shot from the other direction…

Here’s a close up shot of the floors in the walk-in closets…

Another angel of the living room…

And here’s the family room…

Spice Brown Stained and Fumed Floor

Now that we have finished the floors, Arvydas will come in to paint the walls and do his magic in restoring the rest of the house.

We really enjoy being creative with colors like we could on this hardwood floor. Mixing the Rubio Monocoat Fumed process with different blends of stain gives us a huge color palette to work with.

If you want something different for your own hardwood floors, don’t be shy to ask .

Updated July 2022

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The floors look amazing!! What color is this?

Hi Etty,

The color is a mix of a process called Fumed and then Spiced Brown stain over the top.


Fumed would turn the white oak gray if its a rubio fumeing product.
Right? Also how are you applying the stain in the pic? Thanks for any response.

Hi Chris,

Yes you’re right, Rubio Fumed turns the wood greyish.

To answer your other question, we don’t have a picture of us applying the stain above. The picture you’re referring to is showing the application of a fumed pre-treatment with a brush. We buff on our stains most of the time.


Can you apply stain over rubio fuming ? Or have you used somthing different .

Hi Adam,

Yes it is possible but you will need to do thorough compatibility testing first just to be certain.


Hi! We’ve selected Spice Brown for our white oak floors, but wow – what you did with the fumed coat REALLY makes it spectacular! What is that coat? Is it something that we can buy and just spread on before the color stain? Is it hard to do? Thanks!!!

Hi Vanessa,

One of the fuming products available to the public can be found here:

Yes it can be tricky to apply when you are first starting out, that’s why not too many guys offer it yet. But as you said, the results are pretty spectacular.



The company doing our floors has been in business for a few decades but hasn’t heard of the fuming process. When I described the affect, from this page because I love these floors, he mentioned water popping in addition to the Spice Brown would provide the deep, rich color we’re looking for, ie the same as the above floors. Can you attest to the accuracy of this?


Hi Ben,

No, it won’t be the same. Water popping just opens up the grain. It will make it darker, but it doesn’t add color to the floors.


Thanks Tadas, thats what I figured. Since he doesn’t do the fuming, would a dura seal royal mahogany stain come closer to the above floors than spice brown by itself? Trying to find a stain to look like the above.

Thanks man, great work to you and your crew and thanks for helping all of us out on this site!


Hi Ben,

Sorry I missed your comment. I would try a mixture of both of those in different percentages to see if you can come up with a shade that you like. It will be very hard to get this exact shade without the same process unfortunately.


Which oil polyeurothan do you guys use? We are deciding between Lenmar and Duraseal. And depending on which one is used would it change the way the color of the stain looks?

Hi Laureen,

Both of those are quality brands. The durability and look will depend on the exact product you use. Yes, both will change up the color somewhat, as will any finish over stain. I suggest testing both over the stain sample so you know for sure.



Other professionals swear that WB poly will not adhere to Rubio Monocoat, but I see here that you applied it over Spice Brown…in your experience, has this floor held up? Thank-you!

Hi K,

This isn’t Rubio Monocoat Oil, it’s Rubio Fume as the reactive base and then stain and then WB on top.


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