How even is your site finished HW floor stain? Nightmare finish

Mom23EsNovember 9, 2012

Our beautiful 4" white oak floors turned into a nightmare at the end of our build. The flooring sub kept not showing up and delaying the whole build. Our entire main floor is hardwood so anytime flooring work was scheduled everything else was put on hold. The guy did a terrible job with the stain. It was so bad that the stain scraped right back up. Our builder fired him and hired someone else to refinish all of our floors. They look a ton better, but I'm still not happy. Of course, I have no other experience with site finished floors, so I'm not sure if I'm being too picky. When I pointed out some of the more noticeable splotches, I was told "that's just the grain and how the wood took the stain". I think I'm just being misled.

Of course the flooring nightmare happened right at the end, after we had already closed on our previous house, packed all of our belongings, and scheduled the moving truck. The finish coat was done the night before we took possession. So now we're in the house trying to figure out how to handle this.

Here are a few pics I took with my phone this afternoon.

Front hallway. I see circular sander marks on the left side.

This light spot in front of the cabinets and just the general uneveness of color.

I'm annoyed that there is a difference in color when I open the door to the basement. We have the same problem in other doorways/closets.

Here is around one leg of our island.

Another hallway. The sides are darker than the middle.

So am I being too picky? Is this typical of site finished hardwood floors? Should I expect "handmade" "artistic flaws"? I'm so disappointed. The floors are georgous in the areas where it's done right, but I can't help but see all the imperfections.

The floors were a disaster in the upstairs hallway too. The second sub thought he could get away with just buffing and putting a final coat on, but when I showed up to bring over our first load of boxes I could see circle marks all over. The stain wasn't sealed in at all and was wiping off on our socks. They have temporarily covered the upstairs floors with carpet until it can be fixed. We will have to go away for at least 4-5 days for them to refinish upstairs.

Here's what the floors look like upstairs underneath our temporary carpets.

Seriously, a complete nightmare. Any advice? Obviously the upstairs needs to be completely redone, but are the other examples acceptable? Should we be pushing for them to completely redo our main floors as well? Is there another solution for evening out stain?

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Mom23, no not acceptable. I would call in an independent wood floor company and pay for their visit to explain what was done wrong. Can you get any recommendations for good local hardwood companies?

My floor guy does what he calls water-popping. They wet the floors first with water, which opens up the grain and then he applies the stain. It gives a more even stain. There are some variations board to board, but your photos show the splotch across parts of several boards, so the problem was the process used and not the wood.

ALL your floors need to be redone.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 8:28PM
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Oh, That is not acceptable. We have 5" white oak, and while there areas on the planks where the stain is darker due to the graining of the wood, yours looks blotchy in areas, like the stain wasn't evenly applied. And the upstairs hall is just terrible. Your beautiful wood deserves better! :) I would be pitching big will look at these floors everyday and you need to smile when you see them.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 8:49PM
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of course this needs to be redone and the expense of you and your family staying in a hotel while it happens should not be yours! i have no idea how they'll fix this, but just wanted to express my sadness for you. i hope it is resolved soon so you can enjoy your nice new house.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 9:23PM
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Floors are unacceptable. Do you have any remaining payments to the builder? Have an immediate meeting with your builder, and tell him it is his responsibility to refinish, repair or remove--whatever is necessary for your satisfaction. A second opinion from another reputable flooring sub is a wise idea (at your expense).

If there are any further payments due the builder, withold them until an acceptabel finished resolution has been completed.

If not, legal action may be the only alternative if he is not cooperative. I hope he is a reputable builder and belived in doing the proper level of workmanship. His choice of flooring subs is not a good sign. Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 10:25PM
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Thanks everyone. DH contacted a local company that specializes in hardwood floors, but the owner wasn't available. We're expecting a call back from him on Monday to see if we can pay him to come out and consult us on the floors. The lady my DH spoke with on the phone had never heard of such a request.

I was honestly hoping you all would say this is normal. It will be such an inconvenience to have these floors redone. I'm so upset.

We withheld a little bit of money because of the upstairs hallway. We didn't realize how bad the main floors were. Our builder has been very reasonable thus far so hopefully we can resolve this without a fuss. I know the builder tried really hard to make the floors right so I feel bad for him, but ultimately it's his responsibility to make things right.

Thanks for your opinions. I'll update after someone comes out to inspect our floors.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 9:46AM
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No, the floors aren't acceptable. Unfortunately, you shouldn't have been in such a rush, because now you'll just have to move everything back out again to address the problem properly. Or else, accept a massive discount from the builder that amounts to having the floors refinished, and then live with it for a few years with lots of rugs everywhere and then move everything out and refinish it. With you only half unpacked now, I'd personally choose to live with the disruption that exists now in order to not have to deal with it later.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 10:21AM
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If the second sub made it "better", I'd hate to have seen just how bad your floor looked after the first guy. Honestly, I think that is the single worst floor staining job I've ever seen.

The builder might want to find out from the first sub exactly what brand of stain was used then contact the manufacturer. It may be possible to chemically strip the stain out of the floor. I had never heard of chemically stripping stain but someone on this forum recently posted about an issue they'd had where builder accidentally put exterior stain on their hand-peeled interior log posts and, after contacting the stain manufacturer, they found out that the stain could be removed chemically. I'm linking below to her thread.

If the stain can't be removed chemically, I would imagine that the only option is to sand the floors down till they reach fresh wood and then start over.

I do hope your builder steps up to the plate to fix this. But, if he tries to either deny that this is his responsibility or attempts to convince you that your floors are fine and that you're being too picky, ask him if he would be happy if you posted his NAME, his BUSINESS NAME and business address along with these pictures (and a picture of HIM) on this forum and on every other home-building forum you can find on the internet. I know I WOULD NEVER hire a builder who had left a previous client with such a mess.

Good luck.

Here is a link that might be useful: GW thread about a similar stain problem

    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 10:46AM
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Dark edges re ofte3n caused by the difference between an edging sander and a drum sander.

The sanding was likely not done correctly.

Someone has bad technique, and failed to match grits most likely.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 6:04PM
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I just wanted to tell you how sorry I am that you're going through this. Insist that your builder make it right.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 8:10PM
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Thanks again for the advice and support. The hardwood flooring place we contacted for a third party opinion doesn't want to come out because the owner says that the local flooring business is small and he doesn't want to step on anyone's toes. Sigh. Not sure how to get a professional's opinion and advice. The builder was out today to fix a couple other loose ends, and we showed him the spots I posted pics of above. He was concerned and said he would take pics and talk to the flooring guys that did the job. I can tell we still have a long road ahead of us. We have decided to not unpack a lot of stuff on our main floor because I'm sure in the end everything will have to be cleared out for the floors to be refinished. What a headache.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 9:55PM
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Refinish now, before you move in. Once you get all your stuff in the house, you won't want to deal with the disruption and dust the resanding will cause. I moved into a house with floors that needed refinishing. We were anxious to move in and figured we could have the floors done at some point in the future. 8 years later we have gotten the main living areas done but not the bedrooms. It is a real pain to move all the furniture and find enough "swing space" to hold the furniture, as well as getting the family and pets out of the house for a couple of days while floors are done. Plus, even though new sanders have really cut down on the dust generated by sanding, it is still there and I would rather just not have curtains, upholstery etc. in the house to be vacuumed and dusted later. Lesson learned for me: I will go ahead and get the floors refinished before moving in.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 1:29AM
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