Newly finished floor should feel like sandpaper - Should I worry?

dixiemanApril 28, 2012


Found this site when trying to figure out whether to believe my floor guy who just refinished my floors. I posted this in remodeling, but since it's in my kitchen, and there seem to be lots of people with site finished hardwood in kitchens, I thought I'd post here too:

We took down a wall between our dining room and kitchen. We had new hardwood installed in our kitchen and they feathered it in with the existing hardwood in our dining room. Now our entire first floor is hardwood. They sanded all of the 1st floor hardwood. Because the original hardwood is 70 yrs. old, they stained the new hardwood to match the old, unstained hardwood (white oak), and now have applied 2 coats of oil based poly on everything. We've been out of the house for 3 nights - Wed. was the stain, let it dry, Thurs - 1st coat of poly, dry, Fri - 2nd coat - dry. It's Saturday morning and we're allowed back into the house. They're planning on doing a final coat of poly once our new island is installed and the painting is finished.

So, I walk into the house this morning and everything looks great. I go over to one area which has the new hardwood, and with the sunlight shining on it, it looks like sandpaper. I run my hand across, it feels like sandpaper. And we're not talking 300 grit, more like 80 grit sandpaper. If you look closely, you can see a couple of short hairs in the poly, in addition to all of the bumps. This one area is the worst part of the house. In some of the other areas, it's a little rough, but nothing like this one section (although I haven't looked closely at the whole floor).

I sent a quick email to the floor guy and he said not to worry, that it all be ok once done the final finish.

Should I worry? Should I get a 2nd opinion? Could it be because the stain wasn't completely dry before they put the first coat on? Or that they didn't remove the dust after sanding a coat and put on another coat? They used one of those dustless machines when they originally sanded, and I was impressed with how little dust was escaping the machine, but I would have thought they still should have removed the dust prior to staining and/or putting on the poly?

Thoughts and suggestions would be most appreciated.


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Second opinion! We just did the same thing. We had our hardwood refinished and extended the hardwood about 18" further into our family room. We have two coats of poly and a third will be applied once the kitchen is finished. The floors are perfectly smooth and look like they're done. We wouldn't need to do anything else to them if we changed our mind about the third coat. They look great now.

Did your floor guy say why you shouldn't worry? Is it a mistake that they'll fix when they apply the last coat of poly? Is it supposed to be like that? I'd like to hear his reasons why you shouldn't worry. If he says it is a mistake that they'll fix, then I wouldn't worry and I'd give them a chance to fix it.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 2:06PM
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Won't they be sanding before each coat? That's typical. I assume the sandpaper feel will be gone with the final sanding and coating. But why not pick up the phone and ask them?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 2:11PM
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You went out of your way to say "we're not talking 300 grit, but more like 80." If you really, truly meant that, then there is no WAY that is correct. I agree with the others, ask him why AND get a 2nd opinion.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 3:07PM
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We had wood added and all the rest of the flooring sanded and refinished. They used a dust containment system while sanding but they also vacuumed and dusted the floor before putting on the finish coats. The floors were not gritty at all. Hope they correct this for you.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 6:34PM
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After the two coats of poly, the floor should feel fairly smooth. The third coat they plan to put down after everything is done is mainly to remove any little scratches and such during final installation. They usually only do a light sanding before applying that coat. Definitely ask them. Something doesn't sound right if it feels that rough.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 9:43AM
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Let's just say I think you need to withhold final payment until you're happy.

Do not give it to them when they arrive to do the final coat, but rather when it's dry and done. And tell them that's when you'll be remitting, since you're concerned about how gritty the floor is. And those hairs.... This isn't decoupage.


    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 9:50AM
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I used to work for a boat builder. The rules of thumb that we followed when finishing any surface was: Sand, vacuum up the dust, and then wipe the surface with a tack rag (a tack rag is sicky rag that removes any remaining dust), then apply the finish. If there were multiple coats, we would sand between coats and repeat the above mentioned vacuuming and tack ragging.

It is a lot work -- all that vacuuming and tacking -- but you can see the difference if it is not done.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 10:14AM
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Take a piece of scotch tape, wave it around and get the sticky part all dusty. Then tape it down. Repeat with another piece of tape, and put the 2nd piece on top of the first.

That's the current state of your floors. Now take a 3rd piece of tape and lay it on top of the first two pieces. Do they look any better? That's how your floors will look after another coat of finish.

That's why you sand and tack between coats. Laying a fresh coat on top of a dusty coat doesn't make the previous coat less dusty. It also won't magically remove hairs.

Insist on a meeting with your floor guy before the final coat so you can show him your concerns. If he sees it and says it'll be fine, ask him if he guarantees that the final product will be smooth and clear and inform him that he will receive final payment only when it actually is smooth and clear.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 11:53AM
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Second opinion!

We hired someone to lay and finish only the kitchen floor. They did a good job of laying the floor. I think we gave them 3 tries altogether to finish the floor, but they kept leaving the floor dirty after sanding and using dirty tools. The effect was somewhat worse that you describe, but very similar types of stuff.

We tried to refinish his work ourselves - and I discovered how good I am at running a floor buffer (like a babies butt everytime), but putting down a layer of floor finish correctly was beyond us. We did get out a bunch of sanding errors and every coat we did had no junk in it (dust containment, vacuum, tack).

I gave up and went on to someone else who was the number one contractor in the area on Angie's list. With our hearts in our throats, we left town and let them do the entire first floor - including the botched previous owner finished living/dining room. Couple of little things that they cheerfully fixed and it looks amazing.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 3:42PM
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Dixieman, what happened?
What did you decide to do?

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 1:30PM
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CE - just found your note and wanted to follow up. At the GC's suggestion, we waited until they were ready for the final coat. They came and did the one room that was separate from the rest of the house. After 3 days of curing, I went in to wipe it down (with a wet cloth), to verify it looked ok. It was a nightmare - not only had pieces of lint and dust gotten into the finish, but they also managed to seal over areas where the painters had managed to drip paint on the 2nd coat - it wasn't a lot of paint, but small drips and smudges permanently sealed under the poly. And they were scheduled to come the next day to do the rest of the 1st floor. I sent pictures to the GC and told him that either the painters or the floor guy needed to verify that all the paint was gone from the rest of the floors before putting down the 3rd coat in the rest of the house and that we needed to meet to discuss what to do about all of the paint, hair, lint, etc. that was already sealed in the poly.
I then spent the rest of the night, washing the entire 1st floor on my hands and knees, marking all of the paint, dust, hair, etc. in both parts of the house.

The next day the painters came and cleaned all of the paint that was on floors that didn't have the 3rd coat applied. The floor guys came and scrapped by hand all of the places where they had sealed in the paint and where lint and dust landed on the floors.

the day after that they came and redid the separate room and the rest of the house.

After all of that, there were still a few places with paint in the original room that they had missed. They used a special lacquer pen of some sort to mark over the few spots and you can't tell there's paint under the poly.

The floors finally look great, but, I firmly believe only because I spent the time on my hands and knees marking every spot.

The floor guys blamed the painters for being so sloppy and the GC for removing the paper covering too soon (before the painters were completely finished, as they had to return about 16 times before we would sign off on their work - lint in the paint (I think they quit cleaning their brushes at some point), areas where they didn't prime the wood before it was installed, so they just painted it, and it raised the grain, so they had to go back and sand then repaint), areas where the switch/outlet covers weren't flush with walls (painters were responsible for finishing the drywall) - and when they did things like just try to fill in around plate covers without removing the covers, we removed the covers and had them do it again. A lot of work on our part, but it seemed to be the only way to get them to do the work correctly. And the GC just left it up to us to identify anything we didn't like. I did get tired have having them come back again and again, but I also knew that if they didn't fix it, I was going to be the one who was going to fix it, because I certainly wasn't going to live with having to look at all of the flaws in their work.

After a very long 9 months, we're very nearly finished with the project. Whew...

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 7:13PM
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Wow. What a nightmare but you did the right thing. We had a guy do our floors years ago. He polyed a couple eyebrows and a fly into the floor and didn't bother to hand sand around our arch between rooms, just use the big disc sander leaving visible 'swirls'. DH wouldn't let me call him and complain and to this day when the sun is streaming in, I can see those swirls and kinda start hating that guy all over again. Live and learn.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 10:15PM
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Good job for you, and what a testament to perseverance!

You're right. If you hadn't done all that crawling around, it'd still be there.

I wonder if they finally got the idea that you were NOT going to let them slide on crap, no matter how much they played the blame game. Doesn't matter who did what. FIX IT.

I'm glad things are almost done for you, though. It'll be a joy!

Deedles, Did your passive aggressive husband learn his lesson about not getting what you paid for? Do you call him into the room every time the sun is streaming in? I admit I'd be tempted!!

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 11:42PM
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DH wouldn't let me call him and complain and to this day when the sun is streaming in, I can see those swirls and kinda start hating that guy all over again.

Ummm, which guy? ;-)

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 12:33AM
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Quick's Oct. 21 and the floor guy is supposed to return this week to do more touch ups on the floor. He's doing a great job and returns as I'm finding more and more issues...He did say at his last visit that he does want me to be happy...We're to the point where he's using some kind of special marker to paint the poly to look like wood where we continue to find paint marks. I've tested the results and am pretty comfortable that it will hold up to some wear and tear...

But still not happy with HVAC shoddy work...I'll be posting more info/pics on that forum, once I've met with the GC to discuss...

Finally, I had custom bookshelves built across a wall and I took out the shelves today to adjust them a bit and discovered that the painters only painted them on 3 sides (top, bottom and front). Seems to me that they should be painted on all 6 sides to prevent moisture from entering the wood and causing the shelves to expand and contract...

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 10:40PM
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