Hardwood Flooring
Hardwood Flooring

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.

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