How to booster-coat your Rubio floor.

Small-but-frequent upkeep is key.

Rubio Monocoat is a single-layer finish. It wears incredibly well for such a thin coat, but additional Rubio needs to be periodically re-applied to keep the floor protected. The best part about Rubio is that you can reapply it selectively, just to the areas that need it most, and still have it blend into your existing Rubio coat. You can’t do that with polyurethane!

Only the most neglected floors need to be abraded or re-oiled all the way to the edges and corners.

My darlings, as long as you don’t wait five years to perform maintenance on your Rubio floors, they will never need to be fully resanded. They can last literally FOREVER.

First, cleaning your floors regularly with the Rubio Surface Care Spray is crucial to way to caring for your Rubio floor, but the cleaner does not help to “add back” any protective oil.

The real maintenance of your floor should be done annually or every other year, depending on how you live on it, using products that replace the Rubio oil that has been worn off by day-to-day living.

Depending on how long it’s been since the Rubio was applied and how the coat is looking,you have three options for maintenance coating:

Option 1: It’s been a year since you applied Rubio and you have small, isolated wear areas.

If your wear areas are less than one square foot each and the floor has not lost its color, you should use Rubio Renew. On such small areas you would just apply it by hand.

First, wipe the area with your usual Rubio Surface Care Spray and allow to dry. Then pour a small amount of Renew directly on the affected area and rub with a paper towel or clean rag until it is spread evenly. Wait five minutes and use a fresh paper towel or rag and vigorously rub off the excess Renew. Keep foot traffic off the area for 12 hours.

Warning: Rubio Renew was designed specifically to help restore areas of worn Rubio, without changing its distinctive matte appearance. However, if you double-coated your Rubio originally, or if you applied a layer of Rubio Maintenance Oil over your original Rubio coat, you should use the Rubio Maintenance Oil for your spot touchups because the Renew will leave areas that look flat against the rest of your floor.

sanitaire 13 inch buffer
Option 2: It’s been less than two years since you first applied your Rubio…

and the floor still appears to have all its original color. But you can see dry-looking areas that correspond to your walking paths or dining chair spots and water doesn’t seem to bead as well on the surface as it used to.

Remove dining room chairs or bar stools and roll back rug edges. Thoroughly clean the floor with Rubio Surface Care spray and allow to dry. Using a flooring buffer and a white polishing pad, apply Rubio Renew to the affected areas, working no more than 60-80sqft at a time.

Wait five minutes and switch to a fresh polishing pad and buff the entire area to remove all excess Renew. Wait 12 hours before replacing furniture or rugs or resuming regular foot traffic.

Option 3: It’s been three years and your Rubio is looking a little sad…

Does it seem like the floor always looks dirty? Are there areas that look slightly grey or discolored? Are there small areas where the color seems to be missing altogether?

It is time for a full-scale Rubio reapplication. This is best done with all furniture removed except for extremely heavy items like pianos or entertainment centers that would cause more damage to move!

Generously spray the floor with Rubio Surface Care Spray and scrub with a flooring buffer and a thin maroon pad, pushed by a thick white pad. Have ready some old, lightly damped towels to help wipe up any grey residue that is loosened by the buffer.

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Allow the floor to dry. If the discolored areas still appear grey or dirty, repeat with a more aggressive buffing step: a 150-grit screen pushed by a thick white buffer pad, focusing on the grey, problem areas. Vacuum the floor and wipe with a rag lightly dampened with water to remove all the dust you just made.

Then using a red buffer pad, reapply the original color of Rubio oil, section by section across the space, just as you did for the original application. Because there is still a significant foundation layer of Rubio still in the floor, you will find that this maintenance coat requires only about half of the original amount of oil.

After you finish applying the Rubio to a section, immediately remove the excess oil with a white buffer pad. If you need a refresher on Rubio application, we’ve got you.

Pete’s Bonus Tips

Get a one-on-one phone consultation with a hardwood flooring expert.

For a small fee of $25, we can provide the wisdom and knowledge that you need to complete your hardwood flooring project.

When you don’t know what you need to do next, that’s when it’s time to call Pete’s Hardwood Floors Help Hotline.

An actual flooring contractor will answer all of your questions!

We have a crack staff with a range of specialties, from carpentry through floor machine maintenance, and we can troubleshoot just about any hardwood flooring mystery thrown our way.

If you are stuck or struggling with your hardwood floor project, one call could save you hours in the long run.

What Does “Water-Popping” Even Mean?

Yes, we should explain.

Waterpopping is deliberately and evenly wetting wood with water and allowing it to dry. This causes the grain to raise, making the wood feel rough, but also making it more absorbent. This allows stain colors to more easily penetrate the wood so the color appears deeper and darker. The increased texture can also help protective finishes bond better to wood.

Why would I do this?

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  1. When you are trying to reduce the natural blotchiness of woods like pine or maple.
  2. To increase the amount of stain that the wood will hold to make the color darker or more intense.
  3. To provide harder, close-grained woods like maple or hickory with some texture or “tooth” so they hold more finish which helps the finish bond, allowing it to perform better and last longer.
  4. To help swell the grain enough that some of the visible scratches from the edger are reduced, especially when using stain or pigmented products.
  5. To reduce the stripey “zebra” look that some woods like oak and ash get when stained because the pigment penetrates so easily into the spring wood, but is resisted by the denser late wood. Water-popping allows that dense wood to open up and absorb more stain, so it will be closer to the darker color of the spring wood, and just generally look more uniformly colored.

How do I do it?

Remove all dust from you wood by vacuuming and dry-wiping with a soft microfiber cloth.

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Using a spray bottle or clean pesticide pump-style sprayer, evenly mist distilled water over your entire wood surface until the water beads. This ensures that everything has been thoroughly and evenly wet.

Use a fan blowing onto the floor to completely dry the surface before you proceed with your stain or color coat. If you have access to a moisture meter, test the wood moisture before you water pop and only proceed after the floor returns to the original, pre-popped moisture level.

Keep foot traffic to a minimum after the popped wood has dried. You don't want to smooth down the raised grain in some areas because they will not take your stain as deeply, leaving "negative" footprints.

What could go wrong?

Water-popping can not only increase the roughness of floor boards, it can cause them to distort in other dimensions:

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    1. Hardwood floor boards have lots of edges. Water can cause board edges to curl. If you water-popped your floor before staining, your boards all have slightly raised edges, but low spots in the middle. If you apply a coat of finish over your stain and then need to sand it, you will have a big problem: light sanding between coats or even regular foot traffic will have more contact with those high ridges, which can remove color there. We’ve had this happen on our own jobs, running the buffer between coats of finish on top of stain, watching with horror as little white lines of now-unstained wood appeared at long side edges of each board.
    2. Shake or lifting. Wood can have all sorts of interior tensions that are invisible, until the face is wet and the grain raise lifts up long, thin splintery edges. It is not common, but it is a pain to fix when it happens.
    3. If the floor is not water-popped evenly, i.e. some areas didn’t get enough water, while others were properly saturated, your stain will be lighter in the under-popped zones.
    4. That roughness; it’s a double-edged sword. It can help with color control, but some people are really bothered by the increased texture. Your finish coats will help to soften it somewhat, as will just the friction of living on the surface – it certainly won’t stay rough forever. But if you are expecting a perfectly smooth-to-the-touch surface from day one, you could be disappointed.
    Need some advice?

    For a small fee of $25, we can provide the wisdom and knowledge that you need to complete your hardwood flooring project. When you don’t know what you need to do next, that’s when it’s time to call Pete’s Hardwood Floors Help Hotline.