4 Facts Floor sanders Wish Customers Knew

title: 5 Facts Floor sanders Wish Customers Knew
by: Rachel @WoodFlooringGuy.com

Below are four issues often misunderstood about floorsanders and contractors in general.

1. This is not easy work

As a flooring company, we receive a ton of urgent messages detailing do-it-yourself floor jobs gone awry. There are many and detailed steps to jobs like sanding and refinishing a wood floor. There’s a need for experience in handling all the heavy equipment and oftentimes tricky materials used for such a job. The processes and products also change from year to year!

It doesn’t surprise us to receive emails about circular grooves in the floor from misuse of sanding equipment, panicked messages about blotchy stain or floor finish fiascos.

Some tasks are easier to wing (like snap-together laminate flooring done with careful measuring), but jobs like sanding and finishing are not for the average home owner to attempt. Even installing an engineered wood floor can be quite difficult, and if done by the average homeowner will likely later require a smart use of area rugs to cover up large gaps.

It’s not just attention to detail, professional equipment, and expertise that result in a quality job. Forward thinking also comes into play. Most floorsanders start out as apprentices, gradually accumulating knowledge from their mentors. The best and brightest floor men are thereon always learning new things about their line of work. Most floorsanders are using new technology every year (both in machines and products), pushing the industry along. One example of “new technology” is the newer, more “floorsander specific” dust containment systems, which keep the job area dust-free. Lately they’ve become more affordable for small floorsanding businesses.

Craig Mouldey of Face Lift Floors [http://www.faceliftfloors.com] said, “You are right. This is not easy work. The flooring industry is not static and there are always new things to learn and new things to try. There are always new developments for better ways to do this work, for us to chew on, if we are progressive thinkers. Given how difficult this job really is, it is to our benefit, not to mention the customers benefit, to be this way.”

2. Construction workers are [usually] very intelligent

There’s sexism, there’s ageism, and… “jobism”? Not to sound snobbish myself, but I’ve heard of surprised reactions at some of the big words contractors I know have used in conversations with clients. Face it, we live in a world where “labour work” is often looked down on, and the first image that comes to many peoples minds when hearing the word “contractor” is a guy bent over with his crack in the back peeking out from above his belt.

Any random contractor is probably of above average intelligence. Many of them are entrepreneurs, running their own flooring businesses and doing so successfully. I know one pair that makes some of their own equipment (engineering brilliance!), like their custom dust containment system. Good contractors are skilled craftsmen, and often very analytical.

3. Our job hazards won’t kill you, but they may hurt us

There have been cases of flooring guys getting cancer, like that of the sinuses, probably from breathing in wood dust and fumes for decades.

Floor finishes have warnings about prolonged exposure. The key word is “prolonged.” Worse, most floor folk are men, who are always boys at heart and taking risks (not wearing masks, gloves, etc.) and avoiding check ups at the doctors office.

It is rare for a contractor to get sick and die before his time, but in many ways these kind of jobs are Russian roulette as far as health is concerned. How many chemical exposures can a man take?

Fortunately, customers don’t get anywhere near the level of exposure for such damage. A customers exposure is minute and passes by like a sigh. Luckily for customers, finishes dry quickly and cure 90% within days, and rooms can be ventilated in the meantime. The later offgassing of hardwood is nothing compared to, say, carpet. It is comparable to the offgassing of your dining room set. For the customer, there’s no need to fret over the temporary strange smells and sounds of floor work.

Unfortunately, because of prolonged and repeated exposure, flooring is one of those jobs in which there is some risk to a contractors health. With the new dust containment systems, fast drying stains and finishes, safety equipment, cancer awareness, and other developments, the products involved in flooring have lost some of their punch. Hopefully the trend toward safety and awareness continues.

4. There are hacks in every business

We love watching Mike Holmes around here. He’s the knight in shining armour contractor on TV who rescues burdened and abused home owners from bad contractor disasters and schemes. There are more men like Holmes than the cunning Mr. Hack-it. Despite this fact, many good men and women are treated with suspicion now and then, because of the bad name the hacks have given to contractors.

Sometimes this auto-suspicion is expressed by checks being withheld, contractors paying for work out of their own pocket, or schedules being flopped around on contractors without much thought. Once in a while it’s expressed by poor treatment, with suspicion and a dash of hostility, from the get-go.

Any profession has its hacks, including auto sales, medicine, and accounting! There are simple steps a home owner can take to nearly eliminate the possibility of being left high and dry. These include:

a) Ask for references, maybe 5-10 (upwards of 20-100 for very expensive renovations!)

b) Get more than one estimate

Getting multiple opinions could also save you if the first estimate is by a bad contractor who says he’ll be in and out in one day, when the next man to quote the job, a good contractor, knows that’s an impossible promise to keep without cutting corners and pulling a fast one. You could safe yourself a drive by hacking by getting familiar with the job at hand and what expectations you should have. Take advantage of the fact that most of those who quote your job are real experts.

c) Check the Better Business Bureau or your countries equivalent to make sure they aren’t involved in fraud

d) Dot your i’s and cross your t’s

You may want to have a contract to save along with your estimate and any email correspondence you have. Many businesses already have contracts ready to print.

You can successfully avoid Mr. Hack-it, and treat the knights with dignity!

Most flooring contractors are like everybody else. They’re smart and capable. They know what they are doing, with experience, forward thinking, and the right tools for the jobs. They’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars on equipment that will make your floors look superb. They even risk their health to varying degrees, so that homes everywhere can have beautiful, glamorous hardwood floors.

The next time you have a floor man over, smile, and shake his hand. Treat him as an equal being. Maybe even share some extra hospitality by providing caffeinated beverages or TimBits! Remember, the only thing a floorsander likes more than the odd treat is a pleasant, welcoming home owner!

Copyright ©
Rachel is the webmaster of The Wood Flooring Guy (http://www.woodflooringguy.com). You may reprint this article on the web with this full Bio, links activated, and including this statement of reprint rights.

“Are Homes Toxic?” Vocs inside…

by: Rachel @WoodFlooringGuy.com

My husbands cigarette box, courtesy the government, lists a handful of ingredients: Tar, Nicotine, Carbon monoxide, Formaldehyde, Hydrogen cyanide, and Benzene. There are probably more to list, but the flap is only so big. Many families with smokers have taken measures to keep their children (or themselves) away from smoke. They take it to one ventilated room, take it outside, or for the ultimate and only full protection they wisely abandon smokes forever.

You’re no doubt aware of that, considering all the media attention on a cigarette’s toxic fumes. What you may not be aware of is the “ingredient list” of everything that remains in your home. There are still dangerous fumes in homes everywhere, and I’m not talking about so and so’s habit of breaking wind.

Our homes have their own toxic sludge, even sharing some “ingredients” with cigarettes, like Formaldehyde!

Did you know?

*Wrinkle-free sheets contain formaldehyde. Your mattress probably does too!

*Some bath towels contain toxic chemical residues.

*If a family members workplace has issues with asbestos, lead, or other toxins, said toxins can be carried home!

*That “new car smell” is Vinyl chloride, a known carcinogen.

*Is your house over 30 yrs. old? Until the ’70’s many paints, floor finishes, and possibly more home renovation supplies still contained lead.

*Do you have a wood deck or swing set in your back yard put in before 2004? Weather resistant lawn items made before a certain 2004 (US) ban contain arsenic.

*Most popular home cleaning products contain Volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) which are linked to various medical problems including cancer.

Craig Mouldey, the Wood Flooring Guy (http://www.woodflooringguy.com/) says, “there are many products in our homes, including plywood, the core of cabinets, and likely even laminate that use a urea-formaldehyde adhesive.” Your furniture, your carpets, pretty much everything made by man contains VOCs.

The National Academy of Sciences estimates that 15% of the population currently suffer from Multiple Chemical Sensitivities and Environmental Illness due to the toxic environments we live in. So many home toxins are in fact, like cigarettes, linked to cancers and other debilitating illnesses. The next front in health may be the home front.

Tips for Clearing the Air in Your Home

-Avoid chemical products and cleaners

+Instead use common baking products like vinegar and baking soda or purchase “all-natural” non-chemical cleaners. If you have a closet full of chemicals, call your local government office for information about their disposal. They consider these items hazardous waste!

-Avoid the use of aerosol sprays (Includes hygiene products!)

+Search for alternatives to aerosol cleaners and hygiene products. If you’re an air freshener addict you can substitute it with an open box of baking soda in every room. You can use herbs as potpourri. For more substitutions see this page from NY’s DEC website. (http://www.dec.state.ny.us/website/dshm/redrecy/hhw1.htm)

+Keep up on maintenance of furnace, air conditioners, etc. Consider investing in some kind of air filter or cleaner.

+Ventilate high humidity areas such as bathrooms. In fact, ventilate the whole house weather permitting. Recent studies show indoor air pollution is worse than outdoor, even in the big city.

+Have your home tested for radon gas, mold, lead, asbestos and other more common pollutants.

+Use solid wood or at least seal any plywood or particleboard.

+Install hard floors and use very few rugs. Hard floors, which you can wipe clean, won’t harbor VOCs residue from cleaners and aerosols like carpets do. Choose stone, tiles or hardwood floors with nontoxic varnishes.

Also, when making purchases for your home be it bed sheets or renovation plans, google for product information and read labels to find out about the products safety. Look for “low-emitting,” “pesticide free,””no outgassing” or “no offgassing,” and other related key phrases.

You won’t be able to keep out all chemicals, but you may be able to reduce the VOCs in your home by making environmentally friendly choices whenever possible. More than ever there are companies devoted to making safer products for your home. By being VOC-conscious you’ll also reduce the amount of hazardous waste being dumped into landfills when the time comes to dispose of your less hazardous belongings. As an unrelated but added bonus the time it takes to research products may prevent unnecessary purchases that would just add clutter to your home and put a hole in your pocketbook. Being toxin conscious thus has a myriad of positive effects!

Being a smart and toxin-aware shopper will help you clear the air in your home. You can make the world a little safer for your family and community.

Useful Resources

CHEC http://www.checnet.org/
Indoor Air Pollution Fact Sheet* from lungusa.org
*Presently includes contact info. to obtain a free pamphlet containing more household products and their associated risks.
VOCs info. from the EPA http://www.epa.gov/iaq/voc.html

Must Include Byline to Reprint:::
Rachel is a freelance writer, founder of offgridhomestead.ca, and webmaster of woodflooringguy.com.

How to Clean Wood Floors

Besides vacuuming regularly, you can clean wood floors with a solution made for the type of floor finish you have. Various homemade cleaners and general cleaners on the market can leave residues that will make your floors dull, or create problems with the finish when the time comes to recoat your wood floors.

First figure out what kind of finish you may have. Does it feel waxy? Put a few drops of water on the surface and let it sit 10 minutes. If it leaves a spot you probably have a waxed floor. Dura Seal (www.duraseal.com) has a very good maintenance product called Renovator for wax finishes.

If it is not a wax finish, you need to find an appropriate hardwood floor cleaner for polyurethane finishes, that does not leave an oily residue. No oil soaps! Home Depot carries a suitable cleaner called Zepp. Many wood flooring manufacturers also carry a line of cleaners for their products. Be sure to spray it onto the cloth your are using to clean your wood floors, instead of directly onto the floor.

By Rachel, info. courtesy The Wood Flooring Guy http://www.woodflooringguy.com/. You may reprint this short How-to if you include this byline with active links.

Make Your Hardwood Floors Shine

by: Craig Mouldey

You have just installed hardwood flooring in your home. Now what? How do you keep your hardwood floors clean and shiny? Read the following Q&A in which two hardwood floor owners are asking just that.

Q: “I was reading your site and saw that one should not use oil based cleaners. Why? Our installer told us to use vinegar in water, and use a damp cloth to clean the floor about once a week. Will this damage the floor? What is a polyurethane cleaner? Where do you buy it?”

A: If an oil based cleaner is used on polyurethane finished floors, it leaves an oily residue on the surface which can not only make cleaning the floor more difficult, but after a period of time, when the floor is showing signs of wear and needs to be buffed and recoated, this residue can present adhesion problems. When cleaning any hardwood floor, or furniture, minimal water should be used. In other words, wipe with a dampened, not wet cloth. Adding a capful of vinegar can help and is suggested by the National Wood Flooring Association. However, I have heard one floor finish manufacturer dispute this, believing the vinegar is too acidic and can break down the finish eventually. The absolutely simple and safe way to clean any sort of wood that is finished with a urethane is to use polyurethane cleaners which are manufactured by both hardwood flooring manufacturers and manufacturers of polyurethane. I use Squeeky Cleaner from Basic Coatings. Any hardwood flooring supplier near you should carry this or similar product. Also, Home Depot is a likely place to look, since they do sell hardwood flooring. This cleaner is usually blue in color, and is mixed 4 parts water to one part cleaner in a spray bottle. Mist some on a cloth and wipe. You can use this to clean any wood finished with urethane top coats.

Q: “We bought a beautiful old home with wonderful wood floors throughout which were installed in 93. They looked pretty good when we moved in two years ago, but now they look dull and mottled. Our cleaning person uses ****** for floors and some floor dusting cloth called ********. Could they be the problem? What can we use to get the shine back?”

A: There are any number of cleaners on the market, found in supermarket that say they are for hardwood floors. Your safest approach is to purchase a cleaner created by hardwood flooring manufacturers or floor finish manufacturers. This can be purchased (these products, as far as I am aware, are all basically the same) from local hardwood flooring retailers or a big box store that sells hardwood flooring. Best bet is the Hardwood retailer who specializes in hardwood. I use “squeaky cleaner” manufactured by Basic Coatings. See their web site: www.basiccoatings.com.

Mirage cleaner is another one.

It sounds likely that the cleaners being used on your floors are leaving some sort of film on the wood surface. This can create the situation you are describing and can make buffing and recoating in the future impossible to achieve due to adhesion issues.

To sum it up, your best bet to make your floors shine is to purchase a cleaner created by hardwood flooring manufacturers or floor finish manufacturers.

Originally posted at Craig Mouldey’s flooring business site, Face Lift Floors: www.faceliftfloors.com.

Must include bio with active link to reprint.