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Q: I have a hardwood floor with some water stains and some other damaged areas. Can they be fixed?
A: Yes, that is the beauty of a traditional hardwood floor, compared to the hundreds of products imitating hardwood.
The standard hardwood floor has been manufactured since the turn of the century and your particular floor material is no doubt still available. Therefore, in the hands of a capable hardwood floor contractor, one that can distinguish grade and species, your stained and damaged areas can be patched out and repaired to their original appearance. The floor will generally have to be refinished to complete the repair, but since the average hardwood floor can be sanded up to 6-8 times, this should not present any problem. Of course, the added benefit to refinishing the floor is a bright, crisp new look in place of you old, worn hardwood floor.
Q: I have seen examples of other companies floor work and have compared them to yours. How do you make your hardwood floors look so much better?
A: Well, I am asked this question a lot. The best answer I can come up with is experience. I have learned that you can’t cut corners in this business. We only use the best equipment, materials, and techniques. (But of course, you have heard that from other companies as well). The difference is I actually mean it and I can’t compromise.
Another area where our experience and technique helps out is when a contractor or homeowner asks us to do something, or work in a situation, where we know the result will be less than perfect. One example is: a lot of the “slam-bam” contractors/home builders pile subcontractors on top of each other and expect to finish the project with perfect work. Yeah Right!! We will not work with those types of people.
I decided long ago not to lower my standards in order to complete jobs.
My explanation seems simple, but you would be surprised how few companies actually do it.
Q: My wife and I are handy around the house and would like to have a hardwood floor installed. How much of the work can we do ourselves?
A: You can do all the work yourselves if you choose, but for the most appealing result at the most competitive price, I recommend, that you install the hardwood floor yourselves and then turn over the remaining project to the best hardwood floor man you can afford.
I prefer to enter these joint projects from the very beginning, before the materials have been purchased. This provides me with the opportunity to help the homeowner select the higher quality materials that are available. This in turn, makes their job easier and my job look even better.
All to often, a customer calls me with a hardwood floor installed and ready to finish. More often than not, they have installed it improperly or have settled for less than quality material from suppliers’ which don’t give a hoot about the final result, just the sale.
So do yourself a favor and contact your hardwood floor man of choice and have him guide you through the process.
Q: You refinished my hardwood floors many years ago at my old home and they were beautiful and continued to look good for the many years I lived there. Now I have purchased a new home in a new development area and my hardwood floors don’t look or wear anything like the floor you did for me. Why is that?
A: Well, it’s because of the developer/contractors need to save money and cut corners. One way to increase contractor profits is to hire sub-contractors that operate around a lower standard ie. cheaper materials, cheaper equipment, cheaper labor, cheaper finish, and faster work. All these things translate into the floor you receive.
The good news is, we can fix most of your problems by refinishing your floor with the same finish you originally had on your previous floor. We’ve already done dozens of these houses (in only 3-4 years old) and the homeowners have commented about the marked improvement.
Q: We have been thinking about refinishing our hardwood floors and my husband wants to do them himself to save money. What should I tell him.
A: My best advice is, to tell him that there are other places to save money with do-it-yourself projects around the house. Generally, a homeowner refinish job is nothing short of a disaster. I have seen many such jobs, often at the request of a less than happy wife, as she finds out how much it will cost to repair her spouses’ folly with a sanding machine.
But seriously, the machines we use are commercial quality and more importantly are tuned to do the highest quality work. We also use a durable commercial grade finish, which will far out last the easier to work with “do-it-yourself” refinishing products.
So please, allow your floor to be all that it can be and pay for the highest quality work. The result will be well worth it in the long run.
Q: I have recently seen my neighbor’s new wood floor with the flush wood heat vents installed. Can I have those installed in my existing wood floor.
A: Yes, (the answer is always yes) we often do this to add a little custom touch to an older floor. However, we must refinish the entire wood floor to properly complete the job.
We will schedule an appointment to “cut in” the flush vents a week or so before the floor finish date. This will give the vents the proper set and insure the mastic has adequate cure time. Then when we sand and finish the floor the vent will look as though they were installed with the original floor.
As a side note, these vents are manufactured locally by a couple of local artisans, Bill and Joanne Storch, who are widely recognized for their quality and attention to detail.
Q: I have called around and talked to different flooring contractors and I have found that some contractors can do the work much sooner than others. Why is that?
A: I would bet that the contractors you mentioned who could do the work sooner would also do it cheaper. “Quality” takes time ad time translates into money. It’s as simple as that. Also, in order to keep their margin up, the cheaper contractor will always find ways to cut costs through cheaper materials, machinery, labor etc. which all translates into a lesser quality job. Contractors who are busier and more expensive will always have a fuller job schedule and will be booked into the calendar year.
Since customers talk to their friends and neighbors “word” on various companies gets around. Reputation is the best recommendation a quality conscious customer can rely on and that translates into a larger workload, because quality takes longer and you will probably have to wait for it. So in short, you get your work done sooner and cheaper if you don’t care much how it turns out. But for a quality job, which will withstand the test of time, it is always better to wait for the recommended company, rather than regretting your hastily made decision every time you gaze across you hardwood floor.
Q: It is time to replace my dingy caret and I think there are hardwood floors beneath the carpet. How much trouble would it be to restore the hardwood floors?
A: Very easy! And it is surprisingly economical. The floors under your carpet may be quite worn, but with a complete sand, fill and finish job they will look just like the day that they were originally installed. The most difficult part of the process for the homeowner will be the tedious task of removing all the staples from the hardwood floor, which were used to hold down the carpet pad. But once you have completed that job, the rest is up to us. The result will be well worth all of your effort. I have been installing and refinishing hardwood floors since I was a teenager and I am still amazed when a dull, scratched floor is restored to its original beauty and luster. The difference is remarkable and you will be gaining a beautiful, durable floor that is easily maintained and will provide you with years of wear.
In terms of cost, the average refinish job is comparable to the installation cost of a medium quality carpet and pad. Prices do vary between different floor companies, but remember you do get what you pay for and there is a great deal of quality variation between different hardwood floor companies.
Q: We have a wood floor in our home, which is 3/8” thick with a 3 layer wood veneer. Can you refinish these floors? It currently looks terrible.
A: These floors often come with finish already applied to the boards before they are installed. This is where the term pre-finished flooring originated. Despite what the salesman tells you, these floors, more often than not, don’t wear very well. The finish used on pre-finished flooring is simply not very durable.
To refinish these floors we must reduce our sanding penetration since the floor is a veneer and not solid wood flooring. Sometimes we compromise a little bit with the addition of a light stain. This will generally bring them back to a superior condition. Certainly, with the addition of a high impact Swedish finish there will now be a finish on the floor, which will hold up longer and better then the original factory, finish.
Q: I have a wood floor in my home and it is in very sad shape – big cracks, nails, holes etc… Can anything be done to make it look more presentable?
A: What we normally do with floor such as you described, is finish them “rustic”, which means we don’t consider filling the cracks or holes, but rather leave them as “character marks”. We then finish the floor, as any other floor would be done, with some special techniques thrown in for good measure. Surprisingly, these floors do turn out to be remarkably serviceable and special in their own way. Once they are finished owners often comment on how they can’t believe it’s the same floor and how they love what we did with their special floor. Prices vary for finishing this type of job, but are roughly the same as a normal refinish job.
Q: I have hardwood floors in my entry and living room. I like them so much I would like to put hardwood in my kitchen and family room also. Is it possible to match it?
A: Yes, we do this kind of installation all the time. Assuming your current hardwood floor is a standard 2 ¼ inch wide strip floor, we would just remove the current floor covering in your kitchen and family room and lay down hardwood flooring to match your old flood. Matching the old floor, grade and species is the artsy part of the job, but we’ve been at it for so long we usually hit it right on.
After installation I would recommend that we sand and finish the old floor along with the new floor in order to match color and sheen. Then all that’s left for you is to enjoy your new floor and the rich appearance it brings to your home.
Q: This is a bit premature, but I have found that when I take down my Christmas tree the hardwood floor underneath is warped. What can I do?
A: Sounds like the tree stand is leaking on the floor and causing it to swell. First of all, make sure that in the future you check to see that the tray for the tree is watertight. Also, you should be very careful when you fill the water container, making sure the water you are pouring into the tray is going into the tray.
But for now, once you remove the water source, the floorboards will begin to dry out. This can take many months so be patient. As the boards begin to dry they will slowly lay back down, most often well enough to eliminate any need for repair. However, in 4 to 5 months if the spot is still noticeable, then at that time give us a call and we will see what we can do.
Q: I have a parquet floor in my house, which is in need of attention. Can you refinish a parquet floor and who would you recommend to do it?
A: Sure, we sand and refinish them just as we would a traditional wood floor with a few adjustments to compensate for the alternating wood grain. In fact, a well-done parquet floor is much more interesting to look at than the standard style floor. The cost to have this work done is slightly higher than for the average floor, but the result is well worth the effort. In terms of the correct contraction for the work, don’t choose by price. Parquet takes experience and skill to do correctly. In fact never choose by price for a skill related service. You will always get what you pay for, so try to find the best floor man you can afford to get the positive result you deserve.
Q: We have been having trouble with allergies in our home and our doctor has recommended that we look into removing our carpets. Is hardwood a possible solution to the problem?
A: Hardwood floors are a perfect solution to your problem. We remove carpets and install hardwood in existing homes on a weekly basis. When we pull up that old carpet and the customers see all the dirt, dander, and whatever else is mixed in that sandy residue under the carpet, most customers are convinced they made the correct choice. Of course, your home is torn up for a few weeks, in order for us to properly install and acclimate your new floor. But the results are a hypoallergenic safe, easy to keep clean, magnificent looking hardwood floor.
Q: My friends questioned the use of “Swedish Finish” on my up coming floor job, saying “I have heard that finish is “toxic””. Is that so?
A: Well, I certainly wouldn’t drink the stuff, but considering the fact that it is the most popular finish in the industry and has been used worldwide for over 40 years and currently holds approximately 65% of the world market, I think your friend has fallen victim to the competitors finger pointing in order to make their “preferred” products look more appealing.
While it is true that the application of this family of finish is somewhat “smelly” and also technically demanding, the resulting finished product is completely hypo-allergenic with the added benefit of being the most durable of all floor finishes. Combining its’ years of market exposure with its’ durability, lends enormous credence to its’ safety.
As a final note, this is the type of finish I chose to use in my own home – a decision for which, I have never regretted.
Q: The hardwood floors in my house are in very, very bad shape. Is there anything you can do to spruce them up?
A: Simple: “Refinish them”!
I’ve been refinishing hardwood floors since I was 13 years old, when I worked with my father, who started in the industry in the mid 1930’s. He used to say he had never come across a floor he couldn’t refinish.
With my experience in this business since then, I would now have to agree with him. I am still surprised at how resilient hardwood floors are and how refinishing them completely changes the feel of the home. If there are damaged boards, they can be replaced. Animal pet and plant stains can also be removed to bring the floor back to its original condition.
In short, your wood floors are surprisingly beautiful underneath all that dirt and grime and all we have to do is search for that floor and bring it back to the surface.
Q: I want a hardwood floor that is as light as possible. What would be your recommendation?
A: Maple, Ash, Birch and Clear Red Oak are a few of the lighter woods we typically use. However, with a light colored floor there are many pitfalls that I always try to explain to the customer. For example, clear maple floor tend to show traffic wear patterns through time much sooner than a colorful grain patterned floor. Birch and ash have enough grain to hide wear, but lack the color to fully disguise wear patterns.
If you can compromise and select a medium amount of color applied to your wood floor, you will gain a floor that will retain its new, unblemished appearance longer. Also, wear will be less apparent if you choose a grade of hardwood with some color variation between the individual boards.
Choosing a darker color and varied wood grain will lessen the appearance of wear in your hardwood floor, but applying good house keeping skills will keep your floors in perfect shape for years to come.
These are questions answered by Joos Hardwood Floor Inc. These questions were featured in the "Ask a Professional" section of the Gazette Times Newspaper from 2000-2004.