Hardwood Flooring
Hardwood Flooring

Bona Polish messes up hardwood floors. Do not use it ever!

Let me blunt for anyone reading this post… Bona is a floor finish company in my industry that is the equivalent of Lumber Liquidators.They are both purely smoke and mirrors and offer mediocre products at best. Both companies market and advertise like crazy to create market share and brand identity. That is why you likely have heard these two names no matter how little you know about the wood flooring industry.

The REAL trouble with Bona as a company is that they count on you to trust that they always have your best interest in mind instead of being a savvy consumer. So………Prepare to have your mind blown. Just look below.

 

SKIP TO HERE IF BONA POLISH RUINED YOUR FLOORS

If you have come upon this blog post because you or the housecleaners used Bona Polish and it is now looking dull and cloudy, then read on. I will tell you a few ways to fix the issue listed in order of cost to you:

  •  This reminds me so much of “The Star Bellied Sneeches” that I cannot stop laughing. We’ll sell you the stuff to ruin your floor and now we will sell you the stuff to fix it. Fixing your floor this way is going to require lots of elbow grease and clean rags. By the way, buy an organic vapor cartridge respirator. Just look at the stuff in this product…. And this is the company that claims to be extremely eco friendly. Just remember that when you’re high on toluene fumes. If you don’t prefer to pay more money to the people who sold you the bad stuff, then you could simply buy a few gallons of solvent like denatured alcohol or lacquer thinner and take a chance that it works. It probably will but you’ll feel like you just drank 2 bottles of Chardonnay after you are done cleaning.

 

  • Prepare to have your wood floors stripped and recoated by a professional. This method will be the most costly, but will yield the best results. This product is VERY stubborn to remove.  I recently went through 6 double sided scrubber pads using a buffer to remove it from 1200 sq ft of floors. It took 3 hours of time to remove with a buffer, so on your hands and knees I would plan 1 to 2 full days if it is a big floor. After stripping the Bona Polish, then the floor still needs to be buffed again to prepare for the adhesion of a new finish coat. Once this is done we vacuum and apply a new coat of finish. This procedure results in the most even sheen across your wood floor, but will cost significantly more.

 

I write my blog posts primarily for one reason: TO INFORM CONSUMERS. 

It is incredibly sad when people are a day late and a dollar short because they already made a bad decision. Hopefully, someone reading this will avoid a mistake rather than make one. I live and work only in the Sacramento/Auburn region. So, if you live here too, then email me and I can possibly help. If you need a real contractor and live elsewhere, then go to woodfloors.org and find a certified professional. Whatever you do, I recommend against using a Bona certified craftsman because you’ll just get more nonsense and drivel then real answers for your problem. Bona is a purely bureaucratic company seeking profit. The DO NOT care about consumers. I see it everyday in my contracting business so take this as a warning from a third party who is transparent.

 

STAY SMART EVERYONE AND STAY IN TOUCH!

Dark Stained Wood Floors- Pros and Cons

You’ll often hear a lot of banter about dark wood floors if you read a lot of design forums. Sites like Houzz and Pinterest offer up some really great pictures. You can engage contractors directly on Houzz and get opinions. While all of this is useful, there sometimes can be subjectivity if making a sale is involved. Let me take a moment to present things that are equally good and bad with wood floors and let you decide.

Pros of Dark Wood Flooring

  • Dark colors are the hot item lately. If you are selling a home in a more high-end neighborhood you may want to consider a dark floor. If you live in the Sacramento Valley, then the areas that are demanding more and more dark floors are Granite Bay, Rocklin, Roseville, and Loomis.
  • You can create a really powerful contrast with your vertical surfaces such as baseboards and cabinets and stair risers.
  • With certain dark color treatments it is possible to cover the grain characteristics of oak to be more consistent. We did this on a couple of projects and it almost creates an optical illusion when standing in different positions within the room.

Cons of Dark Flooring

  • Dark floors will reflect the quality of your maintenance procedures. Pet hair, dirt, and food crumbs will stand out more on a dark floor.
  • Dark floors require considerably more attention to detail in sanding, which raises the cost of your project.
  • If you are living in an area with minimal sunlight, the spaces in your home overall will appear darker or smaller relatively speaking.
  • Dark floors can possibly be difficult to repair if that is needed. If your repair scenario is too complicated, then you will need to refinish a large area or the entire floor.

A Little Bit of Practicality…

From a practical standpoint, I always tell my customers that you need to set a priority for what you want the most in your floor. Dark floors are really one of a kind in appearance, but if you don’t like maintenance then it could end up irritating you. One really good alternative that gives you the best of both worlds is to darken your floor, but stay in a lighter more brown color range. Colors such as Medium brown, English Chestnut, and Provincial from Dura Seal are great looking but still light enough so that your eye is not drawn to every little pet hair.

Waterborne Woes

One item rarely mentioned regarding stained floors is the finish that is applied over the stain. For several reasons I strongly disapprove of waterborne finishes being applied over really dark stains:

  • Waterborne finishes DO NOT have very clear optical properties. Over a dark surface they tend to really reflect back the light rather than showing the beauty of the floor. For this reason we use a combination of Glitsa Green Label floor Sealer and Glitsa Multikote. All of the dark stained floors in our gallery page are this finish combination.
  • Because wood is hygroscopic most floors experience seasonal movement from dry periods like winter to early spring, waterborne finishes can have really bad problems with white lines syndrome. If this happens to your floor, then the only resolution is a complete re-sanding which is not fun.
  • Waterborne finishes do nothing to enhance the depth of color of a stained floor in comparison to an oil-based product.
  • The optically reflective nature of the resins within waterborne finish lead to a greater chance for showing “spider webbing” scratches in front of large windows and intense can lights like a kitchen if the refinisher is not very skilled.

Stay in TOUCH and thanks for reading!

I hope that this post fills you in on the whole expectations side of refinishing your wood flooring darker. If you run into anything that doesn’t make sense, feel free to e-mail us and we will help answer your questions.

Wood Floor Refinishing Essentials

This hardwood floor refinishing video explains some of the various types of wood floor finish available. In this video we talk about surface finishes, which rest above the wood flooring and provide protection. Understanding your finish choices is extremely important depending on your requirements.

The three traditional surface finishes you will hear about during contractor estimates are: oil-modified polyurethane, conversion varnish, and waterborne finish. If you are sensitive to chemicals, then you should consider catalyzed floor finish that ensures more rapid curing and consistent dry times. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) are not an accurate measure for the smell of a finish in many cases.

We discuss the pros and cons of each finish from the perspective of a homeowner and the practical impacts on your living situation. Adhesion, durability, optical clarity, and aging characteristics will be important in the long run for the value of your project.

It is important that you evaluate all floor finish from a level perspective based on your needs. There are some finish manufacturers out there that market to the homeowner in a very biased way. Evaluate things based on cost, durability, smell and listen to multiple sources. My experience has shown that contractors who do not understand how to apply certain finishes will badmouth those products.

I hope this is helpful and contact us if you have any questions.

 

Dustless refinishing myths explained

Whether people like it or not I’m a pretty straight shooter when it comes to evaluating products and procedures in the industry. It’s my job to provide the best to my customers. Better products are synonymous with better service. Marketing gimmicks are pretty useless in my eyes.

Last week we refinished a floor for a customer who had been the victim of a well-marketed franchise. Specifically they swore up and down that the job would be done on time and would be dustless. The opposite was true when they returned from their vacation in Mexico. There was apparently enough dust from the sanding that they dust traveled through a closed door and covered everything in one of their closets. We own a “dustless” vacuum and we found that our Lagler sanders actually do a better job at collection than adding a vacuum can do. Our dustless system has now been relinquished to the duty of dust vacuum in the shop when we use planers and saws. A big part of why “dustless” vacuums do very little is that good floor sanding machines capture dust and send it back to collection at a rate that exceeds the vacuum capacity of every “dustless” vacuum we’ve used. We have used “dustless” machines by Bona (including the trailer mounted vacuum), Clark, and Oneida and found that the extra setup time and equipment yielded minimal benefit in comparison to our fleet of sanding machines Lagler.

I took this photo really quickly while in traffic. The advertising promises 99% dust free. How exactly do you measure that? This phrase allows 1% of the dust to escape into your house. If you have two trash bags of dust from an average sanding job that weigh approximately 100lbs total, then that is one pound of dust that is allowable. Dust is not dense. 1 lb of dust would occupy roughly one large gallon Ziploc bag. What if I threw that in front of a box fan and told you it was acceptable? Remember, the refinish is still 99% dustless according to the marketing. Yes, this is where the homeowners who seek out information keep reading. The rest will click away and say that I’m a cynic.

It’s not my duty to make gimmicks and sales pitches as an NWFA certified professional. I have a duty to honor what I say. So here’s my take on the hardwood floor refinishing that we do: When we leave your house will be clean. Whatever methods we use to end up at a clean house is our decision but the end result should be a clean house. Hire your contractor based on the quality of their craftsmanship, knowledge, and enthusiasm. Gimmicks lack value and you may end up wasting time hiring companies with a slick salesman who has never sanded or installed a floor and simply passes work orders to the first guy who is available who owns a sander.

Why franchises are not real hardwood floor refinishers

I was cruising around the Linked In group for my industry trade magazine. Interestingly I saw an ad for someone selling franchise opportunities for “The Revolutionary Wood Renewal” business. I looked further into the credentials of the person in charge for selling someone a franchise. The individual works for Harris Research. It turns out that Harris Research also owns Chem Dry carpet cleaning company.

Carpet cleaning wasn’t enough for these guys so they figured, why not become wood floor and cabinet refinishers? We’ll market as “non-toxic, dustless, and 1-2 day process”. I’m going to stop there and let readers think for themselves because this is where I begin to get frustrated with people being in my industry that sheerly want profit before ethic.

To top it off, the manager of franchise sales for this company was in mobile phone sales and then dental implant sales previously. So when did he become a floor and cabinet refinishing expert? Seth Godin says that marketers should be responsible for the quality of product that a company produces. I agree. If more companies had to actually use or be the recipient of services that they provide, in comparison to highly skilled boutique companies that make better products I think they would then see what charlatans they really are.

Thinking of calling Nhance and calling Modern Tech Floors to “bid” us against each other? Please save yourself the time and just call a real contractor instead of a franchise that has absolutely NO technical background in wood floor refinishing.

BTW I’ve taken the liberty of including a link to a related company that makes all these claims of making beat up floors look perfect without sanding and all of the complaints against them.

http://www.ripoffreport.com/directory/Mr-Sandless.aspx

Here’s a video where we recently fixed a project done by a similar business.

A measurable difference

Someone asked me again today during an estimate how many years I’ve been in the business and how many years each of the employees have been in the business.

I’ve stated this before, but your knowledge is not different in 20 years versus 10 years if you never try to educate yourself. You will be the same person with the same set of skills.

I just got my renewed certification licenses in the mail today and wanted to take a minute to highlight what that means:

In order to earn these credentials, I had to:

Be an NWFA member in the business for at least two years.

Pass a visual inspection of how to sand, finish, and install a hardwood floor by an instructor.

Take a timed test online that tested my knowledge.

I’m not writing this to gloat, but to suggest that measuring a person’s skill level simply by the number of years in the business is like judging a book by its cover.  The standards that measure my certifications were set by the people who wrote the guidebook worldwide for wood floors. Wherever you live, it’s worth to ask the contractor if they any credentials besides time in business.

Built to last

I recently tiled my own kitchen and it required me to install an oak nosing at one doorway. I put the nosing in using the standard procedure we generally use (unless asked not to do so) when we install stairs and stair nosings. Why these pieces?

Because stairs and stair nosings actually extend out and slightly overhang a vertical surface such as a riser the area is usually 1″ to 1 1/2″ overhanging. When you leverage hundreds of pounds of force multiple times in the form of foot traffic, then the area can become loose and dangerous.  Ask most seasoned carpenters about building for the long haul and you’ll hear the phrase “glue and screw”. Let’s investigate a little deeper.

Glues can come in many shapes sizes and I prefer PL Polyurethane adhesive because it is very tolerant of temperature and moisture swings. This is not entirely true for traditional wood glue, which can shrink as it cures, causing it to fracture over time and loose its strength.

For screws, we love the #10 trimhead screws-2 3/4″ length with threads in two different directions. These screws leave a small footprint-approx. 1/8″ in diameter. Because there are threads in two directions, it makes it impossible for the screw to back out. In fact, if you hit resistance you can turn your power driver to reverse and with additional pressure these screws will actually sink even farther into the wood.

After being screwed into an area, we will create a 1/4″ recess and apply grain-matched wood plugs. If the plug is well matched then the area with the screw will look pretty seamless in appearance.

You cannot always see what creates quality right away. But time is the greatest judge of a well built project and if value is on your mind, then I urge you to weight longevity greatly over bottom line pricing.

Home Depot fools you once again!

What you don’t know sometimes can surprise you.

I was discussing with a distributor colleague the other day about how amazed I was with the cost of the stair treads that you can purchase at Home Depot and Lowe’s. He informed me that the treads are a veneer and not solid oak and I was blown away.

 

 

 

 

 

Take a look at the profile from the side and you will see exactly what I am talking about. The tread on the left is solid oak the one on the right is an oak veneer. My other issue is with the China factor regarding material quality and sustainability.

Regarding sustainability: Oak doesn’t grow in China so the oak veneer had to be be shipped to China for manufacturing (for cheap) and then the tread is shipped back to the US for purchase. How GREEN is that?

Regarding longevity (life-cycle analysis): The veneer tread can likely be sanded 3 times before you burn through the veneer. My other issue is that poorly glued veneer can de-laminate and who wants a staircase that is falling apart. Let’s call the tread on the right what it is… JUNK.

The cost for a high quality staircase is in the labor for installation and finishing. The treads really only represent about 20-25% of the cost on average. If we were to estimate installing a standard staircase with the veneered treads, then the savings would be about $250-300. That’s a rather paltry number considering that an average staircase starts at about $2500 and goes up from there depending on what features you want.

Please investigate your projects from all dimensions, from the contractor to the materials used for the project.

 

What’s all that chattering about?

I’m not talking about the latest Justin Bieber album at the high school girls locker room.

This post is about something a majority of homeowners and surprisingly 8 out of 10 “floor guys” don’t see as a problem with floor sanding…. Chatter from the floor sander.

 

A contractor’s belt sander or drum sander is the cause of this problem. Typically it is because the machine has not been regularly maintained. It is possible to remove chatter, but this requires a methodical hardplating process with either a buffer or a three disc random orbit sander like the Lagler Trio.

The above photo is a before picture from a recent project we completed in the  Alameda neighborhood around Portland. We sanded the floor flat with our belt machine and did a final hardplating using the Lagler Trio.

 

The point of this post is simply to inform you that if you see this phenomenon in your hardwood floors that it is a real sanding error and you’re not being a picky homeowner. To hide chatter, a number of companies use very low sheen finishes, particularly waterborne finishes because the more plasticized resins do a great job of obscuring the clarity of the floor.

Be informed, be bold in demanding great service, and be a better consumer. You should love your floors, not think they’re just OK when you move back into your home.

Be very selective when hiring a hardwood floor refinisher… Here’s why:

This week in my business has been very busy looking at mistakes from a couple of hasty wood flooring companies. I’m not a certified wood floor inspector, but I try to look objectively at problems and be empathetic to the homeowner. It is not ethical for me to bash companies in an attempt to gain work for the company. Read on because I want to explain a few things:

When you hire someone to refinish your hardwood floors, particularly on a large project with a dark stain color there are a number of things you should know:

  • If you provide a company with a 50% deposit to begin a project, then the cost to  hire another company to fix and refinish an improperly stained or refinished floor WILL exceed the remaining balance you owe to the company at fault.

 

    • If your state has a contractors board, then it will take generally four to six months by the time the problem is resolved and you are awarded any monies to remedy the faulty work. Usually this is paid from the bond of the company at fault. If you hire an unlicensed contractor, then you are pretty much out of luck.

 

  • Most states have a “right to fix” clause that allows the contractor at fault to fix the problem. Usually this is 10 days. If you hire someone else to fix the work without following this procedure then you will pretty much lose your case against the contractor at fault.

I’ve witnessed a number of pretty defective floors lately. One floor project was a $9000 refinish that was pretty poorly done. It would not be possible for a quality contractor to fix the work for the remaining $4500. Who wants to lose $4500? Not me and I hope you don’t either.

My advice to you is to get references and thoroughly research your contractor’s background in doing similar projects to yours. I used dark stain refinishing in this example because it can be very high risk for failure, but this post applies to any project out there.

If you have any experiences, please share your thoughts.