Edges are lighter than the rest of floor

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Q: We have just had our 50-year old white oak floors refinished. For the most part they look fine, but many of the edges are lighter than the rest. The contractor (who we are not happy with) came back, sanded one part, put on one coat of varathane and left. He said it was not working and he will come back when he figures out why not. From your Q&A I reckon it is because he did not prep properly (I am not surprised). Any suggestions on how we can fix it? I’d rather not have him return.

A: This can happen because the edges are “polished” smoother than the rest of the floor. The edger pad and abrasive spin very fast, faster than the large sander. In other words, the main floor area has not been sanded as smooth as the edges. If 100 grit was used on the edges and 80 grit with the final sanding on the big machine, that would be the result: lighter edges. With hardwood, I always go around the perimeter with an orbital sander with an 80 grit abrasive (to remove edger scratches that I may have left, and remove the shading line where the big machine stops as it comes up to the wall) Then I polish the entire floor with a 100 grit screen so that the entire floor is consistently prepared. If he only has one coat of finish on the floor, I would suggest he bring the sanding equipment back in and fine sand again. He should be able to get it down to bare wood with 80 grit.

Similar Q: I’ve got maple hardwood which we sanded with a drum sander. About 18 inches around the perimeter of the room turned out lighter than the center. We’re having a hard time making it match with wood bleach, even doing a little of the dark area twice, and the light area once. Help! Thanks.

A: The lighter perimeter has been sanded more smoothly than the main field of the floor which explains the shading difference. I would use an orbital sander for the perimeter with 80 grit and screen the entire floor with a 100 grit screen. This should make the would much more uniform.

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