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Rescuing a Botched Rubio Monocoat Fumed Floor

46 Comments

This month we were called in to rescue a failed attempt at a Rubio Monocoat floor in a downtown Chicago apartment thirty eight floors up overlooking the lake.

Rubio Monocoat Chicago

The original company that had installed this beautiful 5” engineered white oak quarter sawn floor realized that the ‘fumed’ process was beyond their skill set so they did the right thing and passed along that part of the job to (someone who they thought were) hardwood floor finishing professionals.

The local Chicago flooring business that was called in was… let’s just say “less experienced” in sanding and finish procedures and were far from the experts they claimed to be. They attempted to sand, apply the fumed process and coat this newly installed floor with Rubio Monocoat, but unfortunately for them and the homeowners, the results were not pretty.

Not pretty at all.

We’ve documented the project in pictures for you so you can see the whole process of how to correctly do a fumed Rubio Monocoat floor… as well as to caution everyone looking at hiring a hardwood flooring business to make sure they find someone who truly is a professional.

You can see the unfortunate results of this companies attempt below…

Bad Monocoat before hallway

In the picture above you can see the very blotchy outcome.

It turned out this way because they didn’t take the time needed to correctly sand the floor and properly apply the base ‘Fumed’ coat. The ‘Fumed’ process takes a lot of care and precision to apply it evenly so as not to have lap marks.

In the picture below you can see an example of this. Notice the lap marks in the corner…

Rubio Monocoat Fail

As we mentioned in our in-depth review of Runio Monocoat ( see review here ), because this is a one coat finish system – two processes if you use the ‘Fumed’ option – you really need to make sure the wood floor is sanded perfectly, otherwise any imperfections will stand out like a sore thumb.

Below you can see what we were talking about. These gouges along the wall are left behind from hours of hand-scraping. This is definitely not a normal step in sanding these types of floors. These marks would stand out on a 3 coat polyurethane finish let alone a one-coat hardwax oil finish!

Runio Monocoat Fail from Unexperienced Contractor

Would you be happy with this floor?

We wouldn’t be either.

So we came in, removed the damage and took these brand new floors back to bare wood, like they were just a week or so earlier…

Starting the resand

We used our TRIO to make sure the floor was super flat…

Using the TRIO

…and then we made sure there were no more signs of those horrible gouges around the edges from the unneeded hand-scraping…

Palm Sanding Edges

Once we had sanded the floor to an extremely high standard – remember Monocoat is a one coat system so all marks and scratches will show – we started the ‘Fumed’ process…

Applying Fumed from Rubio

As longtime readers of our blog know, before we try any new procedure, we always take the time to do thorough testing off site. That way we make sure we don’t ruin someone’s actual floor by practicing and experimenting on it. (Wouldn’t it be nice for homeowners if everybody did that?)

So because this was our first ‘Fumed’ floor, we spent a LOT of time getting this tricky process down perfect before doing it “live”.

Below you can see what it looks like after it’s applied and drying…

Rubio Monocoat Fumed Applied

And here is the ‘Fumed’ part fully dry, ready for the application of Rubio Monocoat oil with a buffer…

Fumed dry

Here we are halfway through the oiling process. The client chose to make a custom blend by using 50% Black and 50% Pure…

Applying Rubio Monocoat

And here’s the end result…

Rubio Monocoat Fumed Chicago

Notice the lack of blotchiness and the nice even appearance. This is how these floors should turn out when things are done properly…

Repaired Rubio Monocoat

In the picture below you can see a close-up shot of the finished Monocoat oil (50% Black and 50% Pure) with the Fumed base…

Rubio Monocoat Fumed floor

Looks good doesn’t it!

So what’s the take-away from this project?

Before you give your hard-earned money to a floor refinishing company please do thorough research on them to make sure they’re the professionals they claim to be. You don’t want people trying out new products and practicing advanced techniques on your floors like this poor homeowner experienced above.

Not only did they lose time (a couple of weeks) and a significant amount of money – their floors have also been robbed years of life because of a premature sanding.

The good: The homeowners are now super happy with their floors and… we are now fully confident in adding the Rubio Monocoat Fumed process to our arsenal of finishing techniques!

If you have any questions about Rubio Monocoat or the ‘Fumed’ process, don’t be shy to ask away in the comment section below.

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46 Comments

Wow, those guys killed that floor! Good thing there are quality floor guys like yourselves to save the day! Great job, they look amazing!

STOP showing everyone how to do it! ;-)

Chris from Eco Options Hardwood

I just had Rubio smoke put down and in the right light I can see shoe prints which I believe to be from the crew that came to install the shoe molding. We were completely out of the house but I know they came the next morning after applying Rubio. Any way to get these prints out of the finish. I tried the surface care spray but no luck. Thanks Mike

Thanks Chris :)

Yeah they really did a number on them hey. Never should have happened to such nice floors…

What did you use to apply the rubio fumed? (which smells and looks like water) did you wash it off like suggested? how did you go about that? Also did you buff after washing it with water. I’m doing some test samples and would like some advice on real world application.

Thanks, Jason – Tri County Hardwood Floors

Sorry for taking a few days to reply Jason, this week was crazy busy with work.

It may be easier if you give me a call so I can explain it better to you over the phone. Then you can ask as many questions as you like :)

I’ll be waiting for your call.

Tadas

Tadas, it looks like you are using a reebar for the fume application? How did this work for you? I am going to be smoking a floor next week I have been told spraying is ideal, but I am very proficient with a teebar, so if that works well, Id like to do it. Also, I do not run a trio, but do use a bona multidisc which does the same thing. What grit did you finish with on the sander and then the trio? You did not find you had scratches from it oin the floor? I would like to finish with 120 on the multidisc, is this good?

Hi Danny,

Thanks for calling, it was nice chatting with you. It’s easier for me to explain detailed stuff like this over the phone to fellow professionals instead of going back and forth with comments here… and you get an answer much quicker :)

Good luck with the fuming next week. Im sure it will turn out great.

Tadas

Question, we just used monocoat on our floors. We didn’t sand our floors because they came from the mill sanded and we felt they were smooth and really didn’t need to be sanded again. We put down eastern white pine, which is a soft wood and I chose the clear monocoat with the built in accelerator. We followed the directions as it stated in applying the oil. However, the floor seems to be picking up every dirty footprint, even my dogs prints are visible. I understand because its clear dirt will show, but the entire floor looks this way. Our salesman at first thought we put down too much oil so he sent us the refresh and we rebuffed, but hardly any oil came up. The floor just looks dirty. Not sure if this would have occurred if I went with a darker stain color, but its on my floor now and We’re totally disappointed, especially after spending $445 on this product. Do you have any thoughts or suggestions.? I ask this because you seem to have experience using this product. Thanks any help would be appreciated.

Hello, we are having similar problems with ou Rubio Monocoat flooring and rep says they have never seen before. I too am very frustrated and it makes me sick to my stomach when I look at my floor within one hour after cleaning. All foot prints whether barefoot or with socks on show as a print and then looks like smear or extremely dirty. Did you ever figure out what the problem was?

We have the exact same problem with our floors…EVERY footprint and paw print shows up looking like we walked thru drywall dust! It’s horrible and ugly. Did you find a solution?? Our floor is 25,000 sq ft….HAVE to fix…9 months old

Hi, Karen- We too have this problem with our floor. It looked beautiful for about a year, and then started getting footprints exactly as you describe. Were you ever able to get any answers? Do you have any suggestions on how we might fix this problem? Our once beautiful floor looks terrible!

Hi Karen,

To be honest I don’t really know what the problem is as we haven’t come across this issue ourselves. It does sound like there was too much put on and it wasn’t buffed out properly and everything is sticking to the excess finish.

Another thing that would concern me is that the floors weren’t sanded (or at least buffed) before you applied the finish. This is something we would do as a precaution even if they were smooth from the mill because of the possibilities of contamination. Not saying that this is the issue though. It’s impossible for me to tell what’s wrong without seeing hem in person.

I hope you can sort this out with the manufacturer. Let us know how it turns out.

Tadas

I love the pictures of the floor you refinished – beautiful! My floors were just fumed with Rubio Monocoat. I think they look great! Wondering what you recommend to care for them?
Thanks,
Cathy

Hi Cathy,

Yeah they turned out pretty nice compared to what they were. As far as cleaning and maintenance you should vacuum or dry mop regularly to keep the dirt and dust down. Use a slightly dampened microfiber mop for times you want to give it a better clean. And there is a cleaner called Rubio Surface Care in a spray bottle for the toughest dirt. Use it sparingly though.

Always remember that you should never use a sopping wet mop… that will kill your floors.

Enjoy your floors!

Tadas

Hello I am installing a white oak hardwood floor for a restaurant and they want it to be fumed. Since it commercial I was thinking to use the Rubio monocoat fuming but to finish it with a Polyurethane what’s you opinion seeing you have such great experience with this product. I am just a bit concerned using the oil not sure if it will be able to up hold the traffic and spills. Thank you

Hi Harry,

Sorry for the delay in replying… its been very busy! Yes you can use Fumed under other finishes. I would recommend 3 coats of Magic Oil for a restaurant though. We’ve done it a few times and it holds up very well and is easy to spot repair.

Good luck with the project Harry.

Tadas

Hi there. We are about to test a variety of monocoat colors on our old white oak floors that run through the entire house. I really love the hand rubbed matte finish we will get but am a bit worried about how it will wear in the kitchen. Spills and splatters from cooking, to be specific. Should we use an exterior or commercial finish in the kitchen for better durability?

Thank you!
Kristie

Hi Kristie,

We have done many kitchens and they have held up well. I guess it all depends on how many spills and splatters you make and with what products :)

You can go over the top of Rubio Monocoat with a commercial grade waterbased finish if you like. I would use a matte sheen so it looks similar to the rest of the floors. You don’t want to use anything meant for the exterior on your floors though.

Hope that helps.

Tadas

Just a thought from Rubio Monocoat.

Rubio Fumed and Smoke:
We have shot a video on application that should be posted soon; 3-4 weeks. In the meantime, and anytime, if you have any questions on application of any of our products please call us at 805-988-4400.

Commercial Traffic:
Please read our article on The Ty Lounge at the Fours Seasons Biltmore; http://rubiomonocoatusa.com/gallery_projects.aspx
In the article is the core reason so many restaurants, bars, tasting rooms, hotels, etc… are using our product now. Easy application, easy care and renovation that can be done without closing the doors.

We’ve been in our new home for almost a year with 8″ wide white oak with Rubio Monocoat ‘Slate’ oil. This floor has been AMAZING, to say the least. It is in every room of the house except bathrooms, mudroom, & laundry. It has been a dream in our kitchen. I’m quite sloppy in the kitchen & you’d never know it. To care for it, I vacuum almost daily with a stick vacuum & mop 1x/month with Rubio’s diluted soap.

There was one accident with a pet peeing on the floor & it was left unseen for a few days. After it dried, I sanded the area down & applied the slate oil, left for 5 minutes & wiped it up. It took care of the stain with no issues.

A second accident occurred while we were out of the house for an extended period of time. Water leaked from our under-sink RO unit all over the kitchen floor. I cleaned it up & within a few hours of drying, the floors went back to the normal look.

The Rubio products are amazing & I would not hesitate to use it again in a future home. Almost every time someone new walks into our home, the first thing they ask about are the hardwood floors.

Do you have any photos of your floor? I’m interested in the slate and am having a hard time finding any good photos. I’m thinking of having them fumed first.

Hi Natalie,

Thank you very much for your first hand experience, especially with the pet urine. Glad it’s working out for you :)

Tadas

Hi Tadas,

I’m curious if you have any insight on how best to apply Rubio’s Fume and Oil Plus 2C to furniture?

Do you have any tips/suggestions. I typically apply Oil Plus 2c by hand with a lamb wool applicator.

Thanks in advance for taking the time to write. I’m happy to speak on the phone, if you’d prefer this method.

Warmly,
Joshua

Hi Joshua,

I haven’t used it on furniture myself but I would probably start out trying a lamb wool applicator to apply it like you do too. It’s not so much the applying of the finish that matters… it’s how well you remove all the excess that is important to how well the finish stands up.

Good luck with your projects Joshua.

Tadas

I just did my first fumed job and its blotchy, lapped, and has drip spots. Any options other than going back to raw wood?

Hi Brett,

Yeah it takes a bit of practice to get it down. It’s definitely not a simple process. You have to make sure you do it right the first time as it is extremely hard to repair. It may or may not work going over with fumed one more time, but you have nothing to lose I guess. Either way you will have to re-sand if it doesn’t work.

The main problem people have is they don’t apply it thick enough so it gets applied evenly and there are no light blotchy spots and overlaps. The easiest way is to spray it on with a garden sprayer and even it out with a t-bar or broom. Practice on test panels first till you get it down pat before using it on your (or worse a clients) floor.

Hope you can get it sorted.

Tadas

Hi,

Have you ever used Pre Color Aqua White 01? I would to see any pictures. It is as hard to do as fuming or smoking? Thanks!

Hi Tami,

No, we have never used Pre color aqua white 01. It is definitely a lot harder to do then fuming. You can achieve similar results with pre color easy. I would give that a try first.

Tadas

I was researching on weather to get already brushed and fumed planks or saving money get untouched planks and attempt to fume it myself with Monocoat. This blog answered my Q big time.

Btw, no surprise at all that great masters/construction experts come from Lithuania. Way to go, broli lietuvi!

Hi Kami,

You’re welcome and thank you :)

Tadas

We used the fumed through out the apartment on mixed oak floors and finished with the oil plus white 5%. the results were great ,but you need to use a matt waterproof application over the rubio in the kitchen as water will spot and permanently mark the floor. Our cat threw up on the living room floor one night and of course it damaged the color and finish after it sat there for a couple of hours while we were sleeping. after sanding ,fuming and rubio reapplication the surface was as good as new. We have used the refinishing spray near the entry to the apartment to help preserve the finish in high traffic areas.
All in all the Rubio product is a beautiful finish to oak, I would make sure that you treat your kitchen with a matt waterbased protective application for interior use to preserve the rubio fumed effect for that particular area of the home.

Hi Arnold,

Thank you for your first hand experience. Glad you could get that cat vomit area sorted out and back to new. This is one of the biggest benefits of this finish system.

Hope the cat is ok now.

Tadas

Hello Arnold,
Thanks for sharing all your experience with us! Have you ever used the fuming product on wood other than oak? I’m considering using it on maple.
Beth

Hi Beth,

Most of the floors we do here in Naperville are oak. The fume reacts with the tannins, especially with white oak. Not sure how it will work with Maple as it doesn’t have the tannins like oak.

Tadas

I came across this process last week and think it looks so interesting. My worry is after reading all these comments it seems this finish is high maintenance. I have read that the matte application finish protects it, but it seems this isn’t really the case. I love the look of the floor, but don’t particularly want to constantly be worried if the dog has an accident and I don’t immediately see it. Is the finish that touchy? Thanks!

Hi Karrie,

Most of the comments you will see online about the finish not wearing the way it should is from DIYers or floor guys without the training and experience to apply it properly. We have been using Rubio Monocoat for many years now and haven’t had one issue.

Tadas

Hello, I was wondering if you water pop before fuming? I know you do it for all other staining but I was wondering about the fuming part. Thank you, Brad

Hi Brad,

No, fuming is like water popping as it opens up the grain the same.

Tadas

Tadas,
How do you handle the normal open seams between boards when a fumed Rubio Monocoat is the chosen finish? That is, do you recommend use of wood putty or not when using Monocoat? It sounds trivial, but we’ve learned the hard way that the use of wood fillers on a new floor may not be something to do when using a fumed Monocoat.

Thanks,
Sam

Hi Sam,

We do use filler at times with Rubio but when we do we use the type that mixes with the wood dust… not pre-mixed filler.

Tadas

Hi,
We recently had a huge walnut table custom built (4’x10′ – including 2-1′ leaves), and though it’s put together well, the finish is really bad. They didn’t prep the wood well (the top is FUZZY, like they used a linty rag to spread the RM, sanding marks still showing, wood grain open and scratchy, some sanding marks are even against the grain!) I need to redo this, because I don’t trust them to do it right, and we’ve sunk a LOT of $ into this project already.

They raved about RM, but it’s not looking amazing to me because of the mistakes they made. Can you tell me how to correct this? I have experience in refinishing mahogany, walnut, beech, among others, but have never sanded to ‘perfection’, as I’ve always applied some type of poly coating, rather than the monocoat. I want to use RM, but don’t know where to start.

Should I sand the entire thing down, or can I just lightly sand, leaving some of the RM in the dips and valleys (they are quite deep and I need to put filler in them)?

I don’t even know what grit to start with, and what kind of sander to use. I thought I’d start at 100 grit to see if that takes care of the sanding scratches, but should I do it by hand, or if I use random orbit sander, will that be safe? I’m really afraid of sanding wrong, and creating dips in the wood, or deeper scratches or something like that. But the table is huge, so sanding by hand will take a lot of time.

I’m willing to buy the appropriate supplies to do the job right. Any suggestions?

What kind of wood filler will be compatible with RM? I have experience with Elmer’s tinted wood filler, and we even have some already, but will that work?

Should I put RM on first, then the filler, then sand the filler smooth, then another coat of RM? After that, I’m assuming I’ll need to buff it out, but with what?

Any info would be helpful. I really need someone with experience with RM to answer these questions.

Thanks

Hi Liz,

Sorry for your table issues. Yes it sounds like you will need to re-sand it.

A random orbit sander will be fine as long as you sand it evenly. You can start at 100 grit but may need to go down to 60 grit if the scratches don’t come out. Finish again with 100 or 120 grit. Then water pop the table before applying the Rubio Monocoat. This will remove any remaining micro scratches and sanding marks and allow the oil to penetrate deeper, making for a stronger finish.

All the sanding ,filler and prep needs to be done before the oil is applied. You only apply one coat of oil.

Buff the finish on with a red pad and use a white pad or clean lint free rags to buff all the excess off. If you’re doing this by hand it will be a big job. If you can remove the legs, I would place it on the floor and try doing this with a buffer.

It may be worth getting a professional to do this if it seems too much for you to take on. And like always, practice on a sample board first to get the procedure down.

Good luck!

Tadas

Hi Tadas,
We had our floors refinished with a fummed Rubio finish last Feb (2018). There have been issues. Mostly the floor is very sensitive to any sort of spills, dog drool, etc., It lightens the finish. So I have light spots that I was given a grey sharpie (by the company that refinished the floor) to color in. There have been several trips back to our home to fix various things, overfuming being one. There are light spots between some boards and the told be I must have cleaned my floors at one time with a vinegar base solution and it reacts with the finish each time I clean the floors with the rubio cleaner. They also had to do some patch work and those areas do not have the same sheen as the rest of the floor. They are coming back in a couple days to apply a “maintenance oil” to see if that will help these issues. What do you think? Should we just start over with a regular finish? I hate to do that because I love the color of the floors. I am doing everything I can to keep it. Even crawling around on my hands and kneels coloring spots with a sharpie.
Would love your input.

Hi Brenda,

Sorry about your flooring issues. Hmm… being given a sharpie to fix issues makes me cringe. With all the things wrong, yes it sounds like coating it with a surface finish or a complete do-over may be in order. Hope you get it sorted.

Tadas

Hi there-

we had the fuming and monocoat done on our newly installed white oak floors about 3 years ago. The issue is that in the kitchen, and drip of anything acidic at all- vinegar, wine, lemon juice- removes the finish from the wood. They are really looking terrible and I am thinking we need to move out and refinish all the floors. In the living room and dining room, if I even wipe the floor with just water, the cloth comes away the same color of the floor (and I’m not talking dirt), making me think something was not done properly. Do you have any experience with this, and what can we do to repair the floors and make sure this doesn’t continue? We were told this was a super durable finish, and it has just not been the case. Thanks!

Hi Charlie,

Something is definitely not right here. The color should definitely not be coming off when you wipe with water. I’m guessing too much product was left on the floor and wasn’t buffed off properly (the most common issue we see with inexperienced people using this product).

Because they are 3 years old already, it may be a case of refinishing them. It’s hard for me to say without seeing them in person. I would suggest getting a local Rubio Monocoat expert out to take a closer look for you.

Sorry this has happened and I can’t be of much help from here.

Tadas

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