Construction 22: Varnishing of the floor

10/04/12 | ۩ |

The basement floor it's the first part of the Domus I built, but it's still incomplete: it needs to be varnished.
At first I was not sure about wich material I had to use for it, so I started making some previous tests.
Before the real making of the floor I made some brick compositions on a wooden board as a construction test. I assembled bricks in different ways using glue, cement and plaster.
Finally I chose cement grout, as shown here

Now I'm going to recover these floor tests to study the varnishing method I'll use. I really want to prevent the "shiny" effect on my floor, so I need to experiment with it.
In my closet there's still a varnish pot that I used months ago to repair a wooden lattice I try it first.
The result looks good (in the second picture above you can appreciate the difference between the raw and the varnished surface).
The DAS material I used to build the bricks it's quite porous, so the floor absorbed the first coat without the feared shiny effect. It simply look darker and more similar to "terracotta".

Other choices I had to try out were wax (discarded and thrown away after a small test), olive oil and varnish for bricks and stones. However, after the first success I decide to stop testing and proceed to the operational stage.

Using a small brush I paint a first coat on the floor without blotting the walls, still under construction.
At first it look good (see picture below) but the varnish is still wet and I must wait for the bricks to dry to say the last word.
In the bargain, I'm inside home and the smell is almost unbearable. It would be better make all this on the terrace, but I'm working at night and outside is very cold...

The day after the varnish seems dry but it has lost its uniform color. Some parts are darker, some look like the varnish had dropped out, leaving clearer spots.
By applying a strong pressure on the surface (with a nail or a spoon), color seems to get back to its darker look, but I'm not really satisfied with the result.
I choose to lay another coat of varnish, trying to avoid the shiny effect by rubbing a dry cloth on it while it's still wet.

In these pictures you can see the first coat of varnish, still wet.
Brighter areas are clearly visible over the joints.

In spite of this trick, the second coat is very much shiny than the first one and the floor reflects light watching at it from a certain angle. That was exactly the effect I was trying to prevent!

In the next picture no shine is visible due to the high point of view, but color is definitely too bright.

After trying in vain to dilute the color using respectively: a cloth, my fingers and toilet paper, I'm about to resign to a bright shiny floor.
Then, maybe due to a flash of genius (or driven by despair) I try the unthinkable and i scrub my dirty finger with cement dust on the sticky surface of the floor.

At first I'm puzzled... then I hail it as a miracle.
Here is the ancient floor in terracotta tiles, aged workmanlike and grown dark by the grime of centuries!


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