I don't know if it happened staining the deck or slinging the new windows
around but somehow I end up with a dislocated sacroiliac joint--medical
term for "pain in the ass"--last weekend.  My chiropractor helped a little bit
but it took a few days of icing before it finally popped back in when I sat
up in bed on Friday.  Not a fun thing.

Aside from hobbling back and forth to work and sitting on the couch 
watching the World Series with ice packs, I wasn't able to get a lot done
except contemplate kitchen cabinets and do a few more floor samples.

Ever since I painted my bedroom floors Benjamin Moore Gray Owl,
I've wanted to paint more floors in the house.  Painted floors seem to
be very transitional and work well in both traditional and modern settings.
And a light painted floor makes it always feel like summer.

But, if you've ever had a painted floor, you'll know it's not very forgiving
in terms of showing dust, pet hair and miscellaneous pookies.

Sherry Hart's bedroom floors, photo Sherry Hart
Inspired by Loi Thai's post on Swedish floors and Sherry Hart's
bedroom floors, I set out to find some techniques for pickling,
bleaching, staining and liming that I might use to create a light-colored
floor that still has some texture and variation to hide crumbs.

photo:  Eleish Van Breems
I found a youtube video video featuring Rhonda Eleish and Edie Van Breems
of Eleish Van Breems design firm--recently seen on the "This Old House"
Cambridge modern Swedish project--that demonstrates pickling and liming floors
using Minwax and Briwax liming wax.  In my later research, neither Minwax
nor Briwax recommend using these products on floors and one of the designers
concedes the [tortuous] process must be repeated every year or two.  No thanks! 

In the Briwax on-line help forum I found a reference to using white grain filler
to get the limed look on floors.  But I can't seem to find it for sale anywhere.

I did a few google searches for white wood filler and found two for sale.
Timbermate and Goodfilla.  The consistency of Timbermate was putty-like
and it smelled a little like magic markers; Goodfilla was a little more paste-like
and a lot easier to work with.  Here are a few of my test pieces:

Please note that all of these samples are on white oak.

Here's a sample of Benjamin Moore's oil-based pickling stain on top versus
white wood filler on the bottom.  I used a putty knife to apply the white wood filler
and when it was dry, I lightly sanded the surface which leaves the wood filler
in the grain.  I immediately loved the effect of the white grain.  It almost looks
like wood that was painted and has worn back down to the natural wood.

But when I added a Varathane top coat, a lot of the effect seemed to dissolve away.

I wasn't sure if it was the water-based finish that dissolved the water-based wood filler so
tried using Benjamin Moore's oil-based pickling stain (no longer available) on the bottom
half to see if it preserved the wood filler in the grain.  It didn't work very well.

I tried bleaching the natural color of the oak using Savogran wood bleach.
It took a few coats of bleach to lighten the wood and it really raised the grain
of the wood.   I'm not convinced I want to go this route.

I tried using the stain I used on the back porch.  It also dissolved the grain filler
and after the debacle on the back porch, I'm not sure I want to give this a try in the house.

I thought I would try a few Minwax stains right out of the can.

This is Classic Gray.  Don't like it at all.  It seems very fake.

Minwax Limed Oak sitting on some of samples with
white grain filler.  Another awful stain.  It was thick and white
but none of the white penetrated into the wood.  There's nothing about
this that looks limed and I wonder if it was bad.

Minwax Weathered Oak.  It actually darkens the grain.   A friend of mine
said it reminded him of church.  Not a bad color  but it's too similar
to my other floors that are stained English Chestnut.  I don't think
it would be a good juxtaposition.

On the lower sample, I tried the Weathered Oak stain on white wood filler.

On the lower right, I tried tung oil on the white grain filler.  Again, it goes away.

Then I thought I would try Sherry Hart's method of applying a solution
of 50% paint (BM Aura, Icicle) and 50% water.  It looks a little
blue in the photo because it was cloudy outside but it looks good in person.
Quite white but with some wood grain and texture showing through.

On the upper piece, I wiped off the paint with a wet rag.

You can compare these with the white wood filler samples in the background.

Finally, I tried lightly sanding the painted sample from the
above photo which left the paint in the grain and 
then I adding a top coat of tung oil.  This most closely
imitates the sample of white grain filler with no top coat. 

I think I'll try doing a larger sample to see how it looks.