Helpful Hint
  • Choosing a floor contractor
  • Sanding tips
  • Stairs , railings , spindles - (see photos)
  • Repair tips - (see photos)
  • Dustless sanding
  • Maintenance Tips
Choosing a floor contractor
The best tip I can give someone looking for a contractor is getting references and actually seeing the work performed on the job site. Talking to recent clients about the job and how the work was executed will help you get a better idea about the contractor.
I must tell you, looking at a few job sites (Doing your homework) is the single most important thing you can do. Your eye for quality (detail) might be very different from someone else's. Just because you have a reference it is not always a fool proof way to get a good job, but it will give you better odds for a better quality job and even better odds seeing it for yourself. You're going to spend a decent amount of money, why not see what you're going to spend it on. I've done plenty of redo's from poor quality work, don't let it happen to you.
Sanding tips
Every floor contractor sands differently. Looking at the work performed in certain areas and in certain ways will reveal the ability of the workers.
(1) Let's start with the areas along the walls and in doorways. They should be flat, smooth, and even to match the center of the room ( field ) .
Standing looking into the light at certain angles you should not see swirls... dips ...roughness...smudges...shadows.... hairs .... etc.

(2) The field, again looking into the light should be flat even...... no fine lines across the floor (chattering) Dips or heavy lines across the floor.

( 3) A rough floor can be poor quality sanding..... Unfiltered finish..... or a floor that wasn't vacuumed well.
Stairs , railings , spindles - (see photos)
One of my biggest issues with executing quality on stairs is removing spindles to achieve a high quality sanding job, on one of the hardest area's to sand on a project. If you are putting in a new set of stairs or new railings, you can make arrangements with the builder or stair company to put the spindles in after the sanding and finishing. I would highly recommend it. By taking the spindles out or leaving them out, it exposes a small area or nook between and around the spindles that is highly visible on most stairs. It allows me to do an almost perfect and flawless job. Taking spindles out can be a very simple or difficult task and most contractors will charge extra depending on each job, but the results cannot be matched (not even close) especially on older stairs.

Two other benefits would be no finish or stain on your painted spindles and sanding the bottom of your railing would be so much easier including the finishing. By the way, we do sand and finish railings to match your stairs and floors. It can be costly, but still cheaper than a new set in most cases.
Repair tips - (see photos)
Repairs can be as simple as one board being replaced or as intricate as a whole house with multiple area's repairs. A good repair is one that is hard to spot. Here are some helpful tips.
(1) This tip is one that many will over look because nobody thought of it, or because it's a more difficult approach and at a higher cost, if your paying your contractor
to do the work. When repairing aged wood with new wood it will most likely be lighter .... different grain.... and possibly a slightly different size. If the repair is not to large the best method to find the exact wood that is native to your house is in your closets. I call this resource .... donor wood. Of course, if you choose this option something will have to be put back into your closets, new wood .... carpet ....etc. If you are doing any renovations and are removing old floors do yourself and maybe the next owners a big favor .... save it. It will go a long way if you have to repair something down the road. I myself have wood saved from prior jobs that I have renovated to be used for clients of mine on those rare jobs where a match is needed. One more thing there are two types of oak ... white and red, so make sure you identify what you have before you do your repairs. I can't count how many times I've seen this mistake made by builders, homeowners and other floor contractors. With years of experience, most of the time I can tell if it's red or white.

(2) This tip applies to larger repairs. That a wall has been removed during a renovation and you have half of the room exposed with no floor. This decision is going
to be made on which direction the floor goes, horizontally or vertically. If the floor runs vertically and has to be intertwined, basically board by board has to be slide out and another different size slid into its place, this would apply to this scenario the best. Trying to find this much donor wood to repair this type of repair is most unlikely. I'm more of a perfectionist so the difference between the older wood and the new would bother me unless I was going with a very dark stain, I might consider it. My approach to this dilemma is to remove the rest of the room and start from scratch even if this means cutting across a doorway to put in a transitional piece to break it off from the rest of the house.. By removing the rest of the floor you would prevent the zipper look across the middle of the room. When the direction of wood is going horizontal it is a lot easier to repair and there would be less noticeable differences in the wood and usually with better results. There are many other scenarios with regards to repairs. I'm just covering the most common ones that I have come across in my business.
Dustless sanding
If you think that sanding can be 100% dustless, think again. The term dustless is very misleading. It is almost impossible to sand and not let some dust escape into the air that is why I say dust containment system because your trying to contain as much dust as you can. You may have less dust, but not dustless, I don't like the term because it is so misleading and having to explain this over and over to my clients. Your results with or without the system will be approximately from 94 to 99%. Depending on the system your contractor uses and how well his attachments, machines exhaust the dust is going to determine how effective this will be in eliminating dust. You must understand that there is some hand sanding involved, especially if you do railings and stairs like we do. There are some things that you cannot do if you decide to use one of these systems. Such as air (blowing) cleaning out base boards and radiators from the large amount of dust, black dust, hair etc. that get trapped over the years in these units. When we finish sanding if we are using a dust containment system which is not as effective as blowing them out with our portable blowers. You can't imagine how much dust gets trapped in radiators effecting the amount of heat released and what you might be breathing from not cleaning them.
Maintenance Tips
One of the best ways to preserve your floors from premature wear and tear is keeping them clean from dirt (grit ... sand), water and hard abrasive substances from rubbing on the surface of your floors. Shoes and the bottom legs of chairs are usually the biggest culprits for depositing dirt and scratching floors. For the bottom of anything that touches the floors get floor pads (felt) not Teflon pads they are too hard. I also tell my clients to vacuum as much as they can. If you don't want to pull out the vacuum all the time then get a 18" very soft horse hair broom and sweep it into a unused corner until you get your vacuum out. Vacuums that are not powerful enough or floor attachments that are poorly designed won't help that much either. Pay a little more and have your professional recommend a professional system to help you with your floors. I find that most uprights are a waste unless you have a lot of carpets. I offer to my clients a backpack vacuum system if they want to buy one at cost or attachments that they can combine with their own system.
Water or liquids can be destructive to your floors if abundance accumulates and stays on for a period of time. Using a damp cloth and mop... etc (not dripping wet). Your favorite cleaning product will be required on occasions when a residue (food ...grease ...scuffs. etc.) cannot be vacuumed off. I have to mention this while I'm talking about liquids. This was a total coincidence today as I was writing these tips on maintenance on wood floors for my web site. One person that might be over looked in maintaining your floors is the person responsible for cleaning them when you're not, your maid. She or he should be educated in what or not to do in maintaining your floors. I got a call from a client who's floors I had done just about a year ago and she was having an issue with the edges of the floor boards cupping. With the process of elimination, we both figured out why it was happening. The maid was cleaning the floors with a soaking wet mop with water and vinegar like she was cleaning a tile or vinyl floor. Folks this happens all the time. Find out how your floors are being cared for by finding out the method and products being used on them.
There are many floor cleaning products out there, but not all are best for you floors. Some products say they are for wood floors or wood cleaners, conditioners etc, but that is not always the case. Some are actually contaminating your wood floors with ingredients that might not be compatible with your floors finishes. I can mention many floor cleaning products that would do the job, but some manufactures would disagree because not all of them use the same products in making their finishes. Talk to a couple of professionals to see what they recommend on your floor. Reading articles from floor manufactures and professionals will help you make your decision easier. I myself use a product from Bona and can purchase it from my supplier for my clients.
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