Fumed Rubio Monocoat in Chicago Loft


We recently completed another cool hardwax oil project in the Logan Square area of Chicago. It was in an old industrial building that had been converted into trendy lofts about a decade ago. The owner of this particular loft was doing a small update/renovation and wanted something different than the traditional finishes for his red oak floors.

Silver Grey Fumed Rubio Monocoat

In his online search he stumbled upon us and our articles about hardwax oils .

After seeing the creativity that Rubio Monocoat offered, and looking at some photos of the fuming process from our prior jobs, it was decided to go for the same concept. But for the top color oil application we were going to experiment and come up with something unique.

The hardwood floor would need to hold its own and look great with the exposed brick feature walls, the rustic timber posts and the cool industrial wood ceiling.

So we made half a dozen samples to choose between – charcoal, black, chocolate etc. Then we were asked about Silver Grey. We hadn’t used this Rubio Monocoat color before and didn’t know how it would look, but we’re always eager to try something new.

After making the sample and seeing it in the loft it was an easy decision…

Fumed and Silver Grey Rubio Monocoat it was.

Unfortunately we neglected to take some before pictures of the floor, but just imagine an average 2 ¼ wide red oak floor with a basic oil modified finish that was worn out and tired. We spent 2 days repairing and sanding the hardwood floors to be ready for the color steps. Below you can see what the floors looked like on the third day after we applied the fumed process…

Rubio Monocoat Fumed

Above is the bedroom and below is the living area. As you can see the fumed process really changes the look of red oak, even without the oil applied…

Rubio Monocoat in Chicago Loft

The next day we came back and applied the Rubio Monocoat oil in the Silver Grey color…

Rubio Monocoat Silver Grey color

It made a huge difference as you can see from the photo above. It’s definitely a very unique look but it really looks great in this trendy industrial loft setting.

Silver Grey Rubio Monocoat

The sun and huge windows were making it difficult to get a good shot! Here’s a different angle of the living area below…

Rubio Fumed Chicago Loft

And finally here’s a couple of close up shots so you can see the blend of fumed and Silver Grey in more detail. This one in the sunlight…

Rubio Monocoat Fumed Silver Grey

And this one in the shade…

Silver Grey Fumed Hardwax Oil

We really enjoyed this project. It’s always fun for us to have clients that love to experiment and try new things. The end result turned out great and the client was very happy with his brand new trendy and easily maintained hardwax oiled floors.

It’s been a while since we started using Rubio Monocoat and we’re happy to report that we still love and confidently recommend this system.

If you want a unique floor of your own, don’t be shy to ask, we’re always up for a challenge and to work on something different.

Updated Jan 2023

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Beautiful floor! How did you go about the fuming process ?

Thanks Jim,

Here’s a link to the Fuming instructions:

It is quite tricky so if you’re intending to do it yourself you’ll need to practice a few times first before doing it on a real floor.

Good luck.


Hello Tadas,

I am a General Contractor from Jacksonville, FL, this time working on my own house. We have red oak floors over 80 years old. We are very impress with the Rubio Monocoat results based on the online research. When we call Rubio monocoat costumer service, they told us to dont use the Fume in red oak floor. We tried few samples with the fume, and the floor turns quite gray. However, once we applied the colour oil, (charcoal, black, silver gray) we lose all the gray, and the floor become just plain uniform colour. We had over 20 test. Is there anything that we are missing in the process???
We need help!!


Hi Rafael,

So sorry I missed this! Susan below just made me aware.

So to answer your question, yes they are right, fume doesn’t work very good on red oak. The reason why is that there aren’t enough tannins in the wood to react with the fuming process. White oak gives a much better result as it has more tannins that will react and therefor turn grey.

The reason the red oak floors in the loft above look the way they do is because they are Common 1 grade and have a lot of variation in color already. If they were a higher grade wood it wouldn’t look as it does.

Hope this helps and sorry again for missing your question.


We are about to refinish 30 year old red oak floors and I would like to hear the answer to the question above from Rafael Caldera. Please reply so we will know how to proceed. We love the look of the Chicago loft also. Your thoughts on his questions?

Hi Susan,

Oops, looks like I completely missed Rafael’s comment. Sorry Rafael!

I’ll reply to his comment Susan so you can read it and he gets the info too.


Have you ever done Slate Grey Fumed?

Hi Mallory,

No not yet sorry.


Hi Tadas,
Thanks for your site, it is a wealth of information on hard wax oil finishes. Have you used the RMC fumed product and then topped it with Pallman Magic Oil? If so, can you please show us how it looked? And if not, are the two compatible?
Thank you!

Hi Dallas,

Not exactly, but you can see a similar floor we did in the third photo down (Dan Wangler Builders) on this post here:

The only difference is we also stained the floor after fuming it, then applied the Magic Oil.


Love the work you’ve done with Mono Rubio finishing. Sadly, we’re out of your service area as we’re located in Lake County, IL,

We just purchased 3/4 white oak (rift and quarter sawn – Character grade). We have 3, 4, & 5 inch widths. We’re looking to finish it with a rustic finish, light to medium coloring. I ordered a sample of 5%white Mono rubio and… it looks slightly different from the raw unfinished wood. We like the matte finish, but maybe need a little more definition in the grain to be happy. Have you worked with a color you preferred? Do you typically put a satin finish on it, or leave it completely matte? Any information or helpful tidbits would be amazing! Thanks!

Hi Kelly,

Your floor sounds nice. Usually we leave it matte. We have done quite a few colors and all of them look good. Have a look here on our blog and on our facebook page to see some of the colors. I would order a few more of your favourite sample colors just to be sure too.


I love the look of this floor. Do you know how I can achieve this look on pine plywood? I’ve searched a bit online but I’m not finding anything on plywood.

Hi Cori,

Not sure if that would be possible to get an exact match but you could definitely try using the fume and Silver Grey Rubio Monocoat and see how it goes.

You could also try using watered down layers of paint (cheaper) for the color and a waterbased finish on top to seal it.

Good luck.


Hi Tadas,
Did you use full strength fuming solution or dilute as the packaging says you can?

Thanks so much,

Hi Kelly,

It depends on what we are trying to achieve. If we want a light effect and less contrast between boards, we dilute it 1-10. If we want the full effect of the darker colors and more contrast, then we use it full strength.


Hi, the loft floor looks spectacular. Can you tell me if this is full strength fumed or was it diluted? We did a couple of tests…ash gray and a separate one was fumed with 5% white. Our fumed is very dark grey and when we applied the 5 % white, it appears a little blue.

This was full strength. There are parts that are “blueish” in there too. It will depend on the grade of oak and the grain in the wood.

It wasn’t designed to be used on cedar so I can’t comment on that. It’s meant to be used on oak, especially white oak, as it reacts to the tannins.

Always best to do a sample or two before committing to the entire floor. Different colors will produce different results. Test, test, test :)


The same thing happened to me! I did fumed intense over cedar and then white oil plus 2c and it’s BLUE! Ugh! Will it dry more white? Or am I stuck refinishing the entire project?

I would love to know this also! Getting a lot of blue

Spectacular work! I am curious; we are hoping to use the Pallmann Magic Oil on our floors, but we want to achieve this fumed appearance, also on red oak. We’ve learned that Pallmann currently does not offer a reactive solution for fuming. Do you think it would be possible to use the Rubio Fumed and top it with the Pallmann Magic Oil?
Thank you!

Hi Wendy,

Yes that’s possible.


Love the loft floor. Any reason why I can’t try it on red oak kitchen cabinets?

Hi Vicki,

You could definitely try. I know others that have used Rubio Monocoat on their kitchen cabinets and tops.


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