Smart consumers really should spend some time educating themselves about hardwood floor refinishing projects. In all of my time hearing different stories from customers, unanimously I have concluded that most contractors simply sell certain finishes based on either cost or popularity (how well they are marketed to contractors or consumers). This means that they are excluding the most important variable: product performance history in the field. That’s right, over the years how well have the wood floors held up for my customers? If customers have properly maintained the floors on their end, then my work should be looking great and aging gracefully. Read along for a little while, and I will explain some questions you might want to ask during estimates:
You will hear a myriad of responses within this item about what finish is better; oil-based, waterborne, hard wax oil, etc… Honestly, they all are great finishes, depending on the way you use your floor and maintain it. Sadly though, I have noticed a trend that some contractors will badmouth the finishes that are not their bread and butter and may be difficult for them to apply. This is simply unethical and can lead to you getting a product applied, which may wear or age poorly over time no matter how well you maintain it. At Avi’s Floors, we are comfortable using all finishes available on the market and really want to know about your daily life so we can partner you with the most appropriate product for your needs. We promise to advise you honestly with the full picture of relevant products.
Manufacturers of wood floor finish will suggest an appropriate spread rate for their finish. Following this suggestion will yield optimal durability and appearance for you. Just imagine painting the walls in your home; thinner coats require more application to achieve a desired color. It is easier to see if your walls are painted appropriately by the color change. Floor, because of its clear appearance, is much harder to gauge film build thickness. While we don’t want to complicate your life with information just note; it is not how many finish coats that matters, but how much total finish that is applied to a floor. Some contractors can achieve a build level in 2 coats that others may require 4-5 coats to match.
Floor finish can be dried and cured with generally two methods: air drying or chemical catalyzation. Finish that relies on air-drying can sometimes have less predictable dry and cure times depending on environmental factors like weather. In addition, air-dried finishes in most cases have less scratch, chemical and scuff resistance than catalyzed finish. We prefer catalyzed finish simply for the more predictable drying time and durability. There is a small caveat to catalyzed finish; it costs more to the end user. The benefits certainly outweigh the cost in terms of consumer value and helping us maintain a prompt schedule.
Resins or solids are the second critical ingredients of a floor finish that imparts quality. The percent of protective resin within a finish and the quality of resins directly affect the value of a finish as you can imagine. The more raw ingredients that are added to a finish, then the pricing will go up. This is simple market dynamics and while I am not suggesting finish pricing is the ultimate predictor of durability, it certainly has a parallel relationship.
If you ever have sanded a piece of furniture, then you may remember that the more you sanded it to a fine grit, the better the finish looks on it. That is because you have “burnished” the grain and closed off the pores of the wood so that the finish will stand above the wood rather than fall into the grain. While you need to saturate the grain of the wood to a degree, if a sanding is too coarse, then the finish will absorb into the wood and not provide ample protection from foot traffic. For this reason, we have elected to use a Lagler Trio, which spins 4 times faster than traditional floor buffers and burnishes wood better.
Our sanding machines are made by Lagler and have exceptional dust collection. There is an obvious benefit for the indoor air quality of your home while using this system. From our perspective we enjoy having minimal dust during sanding because it means we are not grinding sanding particles into the floor leaving behind scratches. This is particularly important when we need to stain a floor really dark or sand a wood like maple, which is optically very unforgiving. We have created a blog post with video that details our sanding machines in more detail if you need more information.
I hope that this page has provided you with a good window of what elements separate good wood floor refinishing projects from being par for the course or exceptional. If you are doing research for a project around the San Francisco bay area, then we would encourage you to e-mail us or call. Whether you are seeking advice or an estimate, we promise to educate you with full integrity.