Please help me understand our flooring guy

kim31kimFebruary 6, 2013

We had some water damage in our kitchen and the insurance company is paying for all of our hardwood floors to be refinished since it as open floor plan. (so that everything is uniform in color). We've had the floors dried professionally and now it's time to start planning the process of refinishing.

Most of the floors are 15 year old hardwood that was originally put in the house. A couple years ago we pulled up carpet in an attached room and put down prefinished boards. These are 3/4" thick and are real wood, not "engineered". They do not match the rest of the floors exactly but are very close. Main difference being the prefinished boards have the beveled edges and the rest don't.

The guy who is going to do the floors hasn't been here yet but he told me over the phone that he doesn't think he can refinish the prefinished boards because even if they are the "real wood" kind they are still "engineered" and only 3/8" thick. I don't understand what he means by saying they are engineered. I thought since we had the real 3/4" prefinished boards that it wasn't considered engineered?

I've been reading lots of old posts and from what I can tell the prefinished hardwood boards can be refinished, it's just more challenging to remove the top coat because of the baked on aluminum oxide coating? Is that true?

He is telling us that if he refinishes the prefinished boards that he won't be able to guarantee them like the rest of the floors in the house.

Thoughts on this? Is he correct? Should we be concerned about refinishing the prefinished hardwood? I'm hoping once he comes out to actually see the floors he'll tell us that it will be no problem to refinish them the same way he is refinishing the rest of the wood.

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Factory finished solid wood flooring is made in many thicknesses, even 3/4". The big problem with attempting to get a factory finished 3/4" floor to match solid site finished is that you have no idea what species the factory finished flooring is, nor the grade and sawing. Upon sanding an oak specie factory finished you can discover that some of them are of mixed white and red oak. So you can have a problem right there. I assume that your floors are oak, but a similar thing can apply to other species.

Yes, factory finished hardwood can be very difficult to sand and finish, due to the coatings applied to them at the factory. And then once you do remove the surface coating, you have the problem of removing enough wood to eliminate the bevels. Expect to pay a little more to have the factory finished flooring worked, because the finisher will expend additional sanding media and time to get the floor to the point where it can be coated.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 10:47AM
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Glennsfc - Thanks for the reply! I do think our floor is oak. So if upon sanding we found that it was mixed white and red would that mean that even with staining it wouldn't look right? I'm not overly concerned with it looking exactly like the rest of the floor as much as I just want it to all have the same coating so it appears somewhat uniform.

Our insurance company is covering the bill and from what I was told they were aware that it would require extra work due to the type of flooring we used. Hopefully it will work out ok and the flooring guy can make everything look good.

Do you know why they would not honor the same guarantee on these prefinished floors? Is it because the boards could be too thin after removing the bevel/coating? I'm not even sure what the guarantee would cover...

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 10:55AM
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What is a guarantee here anyway? Most finishing projects have an implied workmanship warranty of a year, possibly two in most states. That is not to say that is all to expect as service life of a refinished hardwood floor. I am guessing that what the finisher is telling you is not to expect a close match in characteristics and color.

After the coating is stripped from a factory finished floor, you may discover many small imperfections in the wood that were not noticeable before, such as mineral streaks, knots and board color variations...and the mixed species possibility I mentioned before. That does not mean that the floors will look bad, just that they may appear more "vivid" after being finished. Many of the factory finished floors I sanded revealed this to be generally true.

Staining may help to tone down a vivid result. Work with the finisher you hire and after the finish has been removed, discuss how best to proceed with coloring and finishing. You may discover that you have a floor that can be finished any way you want and get it to look good. Ask if the finisher will do a few samples for you, if you feel that would be helpful.

Just one other thing...if the bevels are slight and extend no more than half the depth of the top 1/4" of the tongue and groove, then you'll have no problem getting it to look normal. If it's a deep bevel, that would be more difficult, because, when you sand to remove that, you can wind up with a thin layer of wood where the groove meets the tongue, and that can present problems with possible cracking of the groove area.

Hope I'm not confusing you here.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 11:18AM
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Thank you so much glennsfc! I appreciate your replies!

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 9:25AM
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Thank you so much glennsfc! I appreciate your replies!

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 5:05PM
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Glad to help.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 7:39AM
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