Botched parquet sand/stain job

allisonsdccondoJune 17, 2014

Hi everyone, longtime lurker here and first-time poster. I just bought a condo in downtown DC that still had its original parquet flooring (from around 1950.) It was the typical honey/yellow/orange parquet and was in bad shape in parts (dull, worn out, paint drips, etc.) After finding out it would be too expensive to replace the parquet with plank flooring, I decided to contract a company (with A+ rating on Angie' List, used for 20+ years by my family) to sand and stain the parquet floor (cost - over $2,000 for two coats of stain and 3 coats of water-based polyurethane.) On day one the guys came and sanded the floor, laid down three samples for me to see (Minwax ebony, jacobean, and a 50/50 mix.) I decided to go with the jacobean for the first coat, but after seeing that it was too light, asked for ebony on the second coat. The workers said no problem.

I went to look at the floors after they were completed at the end of last week (there was also a situation where the workers/company said they were going to do 2 coats of the poly on one day and a 3rd coat the second, and then I caught them having only been in my unit for 90 minutes...thus rendering it impossible for both coats to have been done. The company was not apologetic at all even though I'd caught them in a boldfaced lie.) I was horrified at the work that was done. The stain is blotchy and uneven. You can see in the photos that the samples were not sanded off before the stain job began, so there are tiles that are noticeably darker. It is hard to see in the pics, but there are visible brush marks everywhere and also what looks like two long track marks running across the center.

The #2 guy at the company came to see it today and essentially tried to BS me saying it is the grain of the wood and the parquet and it will never be one even color. I absolutely understand there will be some variation from square to square, but to me this looks like a DIY job gone bad. He was not even remotely apologetic about the work.

Not knowing the intricacies of wood flooring (I'm told my parquet is a mix of red and white oak) - am I crazy here, or am I well within my rights to have this work redone? Any advice is recommended. I have told the company that I am not going to give them the remaining payment until it is redone, and if they won't redo it, I'll be using every means to get my deposit back. Thanks!

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Wow. Ok. Bare with me.

All i see is red oak. Now its possible to have a board or two of white oak. But not enough to classify the floor as a mix.

That major scratch or "track" mark as you called it is a HUGE no no. Absolutely unacceptable by NWFA standards.
Parquet is tricky to finish but not by professionals. There are steps they clearly missed or did poorly while sanding.

Dealing with dark stains requires certain steps to get an even color. Water popping is a common method done to achieve this. Although not everyone does this process.

The fact they said they were going to do 2 coats in one day is fishy but some guys do this and its acceptable. But not in 90 mins time.

I would refuse payment aswell. If any further communcation with the company doesnt get the results you want then you Need to find a certified NWFA floor inspector. He will be your lifeline if you happen to go to court. If it was me and my floor. I would be calling the inspector now.

Please keep us updated.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 7:24PM
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I agree with everything gregmills says here. Your floor looks exactly as you describe it "a DIY job gone bad." Poor work and totally unacceptable...they do not know how to do this.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 11:12AM
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Thanks to you both for responding. The company is claiming that the pre-existing condition of the wood and the choice of stain is the reason why it is uneven (of course, neither of these things were mentioned to me when I had the guy come out to do the estimate, and I told them upfront I wanted dark brown floors...obviously they were just anxious to get my money.) Greg, I have read some about water popping and may have my 2nd company write the estimate with that in there so that the floors are even darker and more even.

I didn't realize when posting that I could only add one photo per post but here is the photo of the sample that was never sanded off before the job begun. You can see clearly here two tiles that are almost black.

I am negotiating with the original company now...first they proposed I get another company to do the work and then they will inspect it and if the other company did a better job, they will refund me my deposit ($900)...yeah right. What a joke.

And did I mention this is a small 1 br condo and I have been completely displaced from my apartment by the work - my kitchen and bathroom are filled with my furniture! What a headache.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 12:39PM
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Yeah they def forgot to sand off the sample. The tricky thing with parquet is getting all the cross scratches out is tricky but pros know this going in to a job and know the required steps needed to get them out. Hacks dont bother or dont care and its unfortunate you had to deal wth them.

If they are going to refund your deposit get that IN WRITING!

And take a lot of pics now of the floor. I mean a ton. Like every square inch!
Hire a certified inspector.
Have a new company do it right.
And then go get your deposit back.
If they refuse take them to small claims court.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 5:00PM
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I'd only hope that the remaining floor is thick enough to withstand another sanding. If it's not, then you may be beyond small claims as they used up one of your floor's lives in sanding it.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 5:06PM
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Live_wire_oak I hope so. It's the original parquet from 1950, which I'm told is much thicker than the stuff used more recently. But you're right, I'm not happy about the fact that I'm going to need to resand it.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 6:07PM
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