Rescuing a Botched Rubio Monocoat Fumed Floor

This month we were called in to rescue a failed attempt at a Rubio Monocoat floor in a downtown Chicago apartment thirty eight floors up overlooking the lake.

The original company that had installed this beautiful 5” engineered white oak quarter sawn floor realized that the ‘fumed’ process was beyond their skill set so they did the right thing and passed along that part of the job to (someone who they thought were) hardwood floor finishing professionals.

The local Chicago flooring business that was called in was… let’s just say “less experienced” in sanding and finish procedures and were far from the experts they claimed to be. They attempted to sand, apply the fumed process and coat this newly installed floor with Rubio Monocoat, but unfortunately for them and the homeowners, the results were not pretty.

Not pretty at all.

We’ve documented the project in pictures for you so you can see the whole process of how to correctly do a fumed Rubio Monocoat floor… as well as to caution everyone looking at hiring a hardwood flooring business to make sure they find someone who truly is a professional.

You can see the unfortunate results of this companies attempt below…

In the picture above you can see the very blotchy outcome.

It turned out this way because they didn’t take the time needed to correctly sand the floor and properly apply the base ‘Fumed’ coat. The ‘Fumed’ process takes a lot of care and precision to apply it evenly so as not to have lap marks.

In the picture below you can see an example of this. Notice the lap marks in the corner…

As we mentioned in our in-depth review of Runio Monocoat (see review here), because this is a one coat finish system – two processes if you use the ‘Fumed’ option – you really need to make sure the wood floor is sanded perfectly, otherwise any imperfections will stand out like a sore thumb.

Below you can see what we were talking about. These gouges along the wall are left behind from hours of hand-scraping. This is definitely not a normal step in sanding these types of floors. These marks would stand out on a 3 coat polyurethane finish let alone a one-coat hardwax oil finish!

Would you be happy with this floor?

We wouldn’t be either.

So we came in, removed the damage and took these brand new floors back to bare wood, like they were just a week or so earlier…

We used our TRIO to make sure the floor was super flat…

…and then we made sure there were no more signs of those horrible gouges around the edges from the unneeded hand-scraping…

Once we had sanded the floor to an extremely high standard – remember Monocoat is a one coat system so all marks and scratches will show – we started the ‘Fumed’ process…

As longtime readers of our blog know, before we try any new procedure, we always take the time to do thorough testing off site. That way we make sure we don’t ruin someone’s actual floor by practicing and experimenting on it. (Wouldn’t it be nice for homeowners if everybody did that?)

So because this was our first ‘Fumed’ floor, we spent a LOT of time getting this tricky process down perfect before doing it “live”.

Below you can see what it looks like after it’s applied and drying…

And here is the ‘Fumed’ part fully dry, ready for the application of Rubio Monocoat oil with a buffer…

Here we are halfway through the oiling process. The client chose to make a custom blend by using 50% Black and 50% Pure…

And here’s the end result…

Notice the lack of blotchiness and the nice even appearance. This is how these floors should turn out when things are done properly…

In the picture below you can see a close-up shot of the finished Monocoat oil (50% Black and 50% Pure) with the Fumed base…

Looks good doesn’t it!

So what’s the take-away from this project?

Before you give your hard-earned money to a floor refinishing company please do thorough research on them to make sure they’re the professionals they claim to be. You don’t want people trying out new products and practicing advanced techniques on your floors like this poor homeowner experienced above.

Not only did they lose time (a couple of weeks) and a significant amount of money – their floors have also been robbed years of life because of a premature sanding.

The good: The homeowners are now super happy with their floors and… we are now fully  confident in adding the Rubio Monocoat Fumed process to our arsenal of finishing techniques!

If you have any questions about Rubio Monocoat or the ‘Fumed’ process, don’t be shy to ask away in the comment section below.



  1. Chris says:

    Wow, those guys killed that floor! Good thing there are quality floor guys like yourselves to save the day! Great job, they look amazing!

    STOP showing everyone how to do it! 😉

    Chris from Eco Options Hardwood

  2. Jason says:

    What did you use to apply the rubio fumed? (which smells and looks like water) did you wash it off like suggested? how did you go about that? Also did you buff after washing it with water. I’m doing some test samples and would like some advice on real world application.

    Thanks, Jason – Tri County Hardwood Floors

    • Sorry for taking a few days to reply Jason, this week was crazy busy with work.

      It may be easier if you give me a call so I can explain it better to you over the phone. Then you can ask as many questions as you like 🙂

      I’ll be waiting for your call.


  3. Danny V says:

    Tadas, it looks like you are using a reebar for the fume application? How did this work for you? I am going to be smoking a floor next week I have been told spraying is ideal, but I am very proficient with a teebar, so if that works well, Id like to do it. Also, I do not run a trio, but do use a bona multidisc which does the same thing. What grit did you finish with on the sander and then the trio? You did not find you had scratches from it oin the floor? I would like to finish with 120 on the multidisc, is this good?

    • Hi Danny,

      Thanks for calling, it was nice chatting with you. It’s easier for me to explain detailed stuff like this over the phone to fellow professionals instead of going back and forth with comments here… and you get an answer much quicker 🙂

      Good luck with the fuming next week. Im sure it will turn out great.


  4. Karen M. says:

    Question, we just used monocoat on our floors. We didn’t sand our floors because they came from the mill sanded and we felt they were smooth and really didn’t need to be sanded again. We put down eastern white pine, which is a soft wood and I chose the clear monocoat with the built in accelerator. We followed the directions as it stated in applying the oil. However, the floor seems to be picking up every dirty footprint, even my dogs prints are visible. I understand because its clear dirt will show, but the entire floor looks this way. Our salesman at first thought we put down too much oil so he sent us the refresh and we rebuffed, but hardly any oil came up. The floor just looks dirty. Not sure if this would have occurred if I went with a darker stain color, but its on my floor now and We’re totally disappointed, especially after spending $445 on this product. Do you have any thoughts or suggestions.? I ask this because you seem to have experience using this product. Thanks any help would be appreciated.

    • Hi Karen,

      To be honest I don’t really know what the problem is as we haven’t come across this issue ourselves. It does sound like there was too much put on and it wasn’t buffed out properly and everything is sticking to the excess finish.

      Another thing that would concern me is that the floors weren’t sanded (or at least buffed) before you applied the finish. This is something we would do as a precaution even if they were smooth from the mill because of the possibilities of contamination. Not saying that this is the issue though. It’s impossible for me to tell what’s wrong without seeing hem in person.

      I hope you can sort this out with the manufacturer. Let us know how it turns out.


    • Michelle says:

      Hi, Karen- We too have this problem with our floor. It looked beautiful for about a year, and then started getting footprints exactly as you describe. Were you ever able to get any answers? Do you have any suggestions on how we might fix this problem? Our once beautiful floor looks terrible!

    • Nan MIchaelis says:

      We have the exact same problem with our floors…EVERY footprint and paw print shows up looking like we walked thru drywall dust! It’s horrible and ugly. Did you find a solution?? Our floor is 25,000 sq ft….HAVE to fix…9 months old

  5. Cathy says:

    I love the pictures of the floor you refinished – beautiful! My floors were just fumed with Rubio Monocoat. I think they look great! Wondering what you recommend to care for them?

    • Hi Cathy,

      Yeah they turned out pretty nice compared to what they were. As far as cleaning and maintenance you should vacuum or dry mop regularly to keep the dirt and dust down. Use a slightly dampened microfiber mop for times you want to give it a better clean. And there is a cleaner called Rubio Surface Care in a spray bottle for the toughest dirt. Use it sparingly though.

      Always remember that you should never use a sopping wet mop… that will kill your floors.

      Enjoy your floors!


  6. Harry says:

    Hello I am installing a white oak hardwood floor for a restaurant and they want it to be fumed. Since it commercial I was thinking to use the Rubio monocoat fuming but to finish it with a Polyurethane what’s you opinion seeing you have such great experience with this product. I am just a bit concerned using the oil not sure if it will be able to up hold the traffic and spills. Thank you

    • Hi Harry,

      Sorry for the delay in replying… its been very busy! Yes you can use Fumed under other finishes. I would recommend 3 coats of Magic Oil for a restaurant though. We’ve done it a few times and it holds up very well and is easy to spot repair.

      Good luck with the project Harry.


  7. Kristie says:

    Hi there. We are about to test a variety of monocoat colors on our old white oak floors that run through the entire house. I really love the hand rubbed matte finish we will get but am a bit worried about how it will wear in the kitchen. Spills and splatters from cooking, to be specific. Should we use an exterior or commercial finish in the kitchen for better durability?

    Thank you!

  8. Hi Kristie,

    We have done many kitchens and they have held up well. I guess it all depends on how many spills and splatters you make and with what products 🙂

    You can go over the top of Rubio Monocoat with a commercial grade waterbased finish if you like. I would use a matte sheen so it looks similar to the rest of the floors. You don’t want to use anything meant for the exterior on your floors though.

    Hope that helps.


  9. Patrick Mervyn says:

    Just a thought from Rubio Monocoat.

    Rubio Fumed and Smoke:
    We have shot a video on application that should be posted soon; 3-4 weeks. In the meantime, and anytime, if you have any questions on application of any of our products please call us at 805-988-4400.

    Commercial Traffic:
    Please read our article on The Ty Lounge at the Fours Seasons Biltmore; http://rubiomonocoatusa.com/gallery_projects.aspx
    In the article is the core reason so many restaurants, bars, tasting rooms, hotels, etc… are using our product now. Easy application, easy care and renovation that can be done without closing the doors.

  10. Natalie says:

    We’ve been in our new home for almost a year with 8″ wide white oak with Rubio Monocoat ‘Slate’ oil. This floor has been AMAZING, to say the least. It is in every room of the house except bathrooms, mudroom, & laundry. It has been a dream in our kitchen. I’m quite sloppy in the kitchen & you’d never know it. To care for it, I vacuum almost daily with a stick vacuum & mop 1x/month with Rubio’s diluted soap.

    There was one accident with a pet peeing on the floor & it was left unseen for a few days. After it dried, I sanded the area down & applied the slate oil, left for 5 minutes & wiped it up. It took care of the stain with no issues.

    A second accident occurred while we were out of the house for an extended period of time. Water leaked from our under-sink RO unit all over the kitchen floor. I cleaned it up & within a few hours of drying, the floors went back to the normal look.

    The Rubio products are amazing & I would not hesitate to use it again in a future home. Almost every time someone new walks into our home, the first thing they ask about are the hardwood floors.

    • Hi Natalie,

      Thank you very much for your first hand experience, especially with the pet urine. Glad it’s working out for you 🙂


    • Mallory says:

      Do you have any photos of your floor? I’m interested in the slate and am having a hard time finding any good photos. I’m thinking of having them fumed first.

  11. Joshua says:

    Hi Tadas,

    I’m curious if you have any insight on how best to apply Rubio’s Fume and Oil Plus 2C to furniture?

    Do you have any tips/suggestions. I typically apply Oil Plus 2c by hand with a lamb wool applicator.

    Thanks in advance for taking the time to write. I’m happy to speak on the phone, if you’d prefer this method.


    • Hi Joshua,

      I haven’t used it on furniture myself but I would probably start out trying a lamb wool applicator to apply it like you do too. It’s not so much the applying of the finish that matters… it’s how well you remove all the excess that is important to how well the finish stands up.

      Good luck with your projects Joshua.


  12. Brett Dean says:

    I just did my first fumed job and its blotchy, lapped, and has drip spots. Any options other than going back to raw wood?

    • Hi Brett,

      Yeah it takes a bit of practice to get it down. It’s definitely not a simple process. You have to make sure you do it right the first time as it is extremely hard to repair. It may or may not work going over with fumed one more time, but you have nothing to lose I guess. Either way you will have to re-sand if it doesn’t work.

      The main problem people have is they don’t apply it thick enough so it gets applied evenly and there are no light blotchy spots and overlaps. The easiest way is to spray it on with a garden sprayer and even it out with a t-bar or broom. Practice on test panels first till you get it down pat before using it on your (or worse a clients) floor.

      Hope you can get it sorted.


  13. tami says:


    Have you ever used Pre Color Aqua White 01? I would to see any pictures. It is as hard to do as fuming or smoking? Thanks!

    • Hi Tami,

      No, we have never used Pre color aqua white 01. It is definitely a lot harder to do then fuming. You can achieve similar results with pre color easy. I would give that a try first.


  14. Kami says:

    I was researching on weather to get already brushed and fumed planks or saving money get untouched planks and attempt to fume it myself with Monocoat. This blog answered my Q big time.

    Btw, no surprise at all that great masters/construction experts come from Lithuania. Way to go, broli lietuvi!

  15. Arnold says:

    We used the fumed through out the apartment on mixed oak floors and finished with the oil plus white 5%. the results were great ,but you need to use a matt waterproof application over the rubio in the kitchen as water will spot and permanently mark the floor. Our cat threw up on the living room floor one night and of course it damaged the color and finish after it sat there for a couple of hours while we were sleeping. after sanding ,fuming and rubio reapplication the surface was as good as new. We have used the refinishing spray near the entry to the apartment to help preserve the finish in high traffic areas.
    All in all the Rubio product is a beautiful finish to oak, I would make sure that you treat your kitchen with a matt waterbased protective application for interior use to preserve the rubio fumed effect for that particular area of the home.

    • Hi Arnold,

      Thank you for your first hand experience. Glad you could get that cat vomit area sorted out and back to new. This is one of the biggest benefits of this finish system.

      Hope the cat is ok now.


  16. Beth B says:

    Hello Arnold,
    Thanks for sharing all your experience with us! Have you ever used the fuming product on wood other than oak? I’m considering using it on maple.

    • Hi Beth,

      Most of the floors we do here in Naperville are oak. The fume reacts with the tannins, especially with white oak. Not sure how it will work with Maple as it doesn’t have the tannins like oak.


  17. Karrie says:

    I came across this process last week and think it looks so interesting. My worry is after reading all these comments it seems this finish is high maintenance. I have read that the matte application finish protects it, but it seems this isn’t really the case. I love the look of the floor, but don’t particularly want to constantly be worried if the dog has an accident and I don’t immediately see it. Is the finish that touchy? Thanks!

  18. Brad says:

    Hello, I was wondering if you water pop before fuming? I know you do it for all other staining but I was wondering about the fuming part. Thank you, Brad

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