Hole Filling

The factory-second oak flooring we laid in Bob’s living room is full of holes. Or at least it was, until Mark and I filled them in with epoxy. The imperfections vary from pinholes to cracks to half-inch-wide knots… which look cool, but they pose practical problems when you’re walking on a floor every day and dragging furniture across it.

Our epoxy is a two-part solution, the resin and the hardener; when they combine they produce a heat reaction and harden uniformly (as opposed to glue which hardens from the outside in due to air exposure). We mixed a little at a time. The two bottles came with instructions to combine in perfectly equal measure, but the stuff clings to the side of any container so you really can’t achieve a precise measurement. Mark got as close as possible by comparing the remaining volume in each bottle.

Mark carefully mixes epoxy.

Mark carefully mixes epoxy.

Getting the epoxy to stay in the holes (without draining out the bottom) proved a major challenge. Our first idea was to stuff the holes tight with cedar shavings from the master closet, but the epoxy soaked right through. I then tried plugging the holes with clear-drying wood glue. That worked a little better, but in many cases the wood glue dripped through before it got tacky, just like the epoxy.

Hole-filling tactics on display. The light-colored stuff is wood putty.

Hole-filling tactics on display. The light-colored stuff is wood putty.

I had the most success spreading some fast-drying wood putty in the open spots and pouring epoxy over that. The epoxy needs 24 hours to become dry to the touch (and 72 hours to set up completely), so for a week I checked the floor every morning and puttied+epoxied all the holes that had drained. As of Friday I’m satisfied that I have plugged them all.

We want a smooth floor with no tripping or splintering hazards. To do that we need to buff out the surface epoxy so only the filled-in holes remain. Soon (perhaps next week) Mark will rent a floor sander and bring everything down to a uniform level.

Living room floor - the latest & greatest.

Living room floor – the latest & greatest.

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