Ripples, bare spots and bubbles in coat of polyurethane: 2 Answers

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Ripples, bare spots and bubbles after buff and polyurethane

Q: I just purchased my first home, a 7 year old townhouse with hardwoods in the living room. The floors were in pretty good condition, but family convinced me to have them buffed and poly’d with a high gloss shine, as several of theirs had been done and came out beautiful. I went with the same person as they did, only I did not have them sanded, just buffed and glossed. I’m extremely unhappy with the outcome. My floors now look like a pond on a windy day, with ripples and bare spots and bubbles.

The guy claims the previous owners must have washed them with an oil/soap and the poly did not adhere to the surface (though he says everything “powdered up” as it should have during the buffing. He says now they need to be sanded and done over. I’ve already paid $250 for the buffing (a break because he’s been used by my family members) and he now tells me it will be another $400 to sand and refinish.

I can’t live with the floors they way they are, but my budget is growing tighter each week. Is it possible that his craftsmanship was simply poor? And should he be willing to lower this $400 cost? Or, should I just find someone else? I’m moving in this weekend and this is a huge setback for me and all the inconvenience this will cause me by needing to seal off other rooms and my freshly cleaned carpets, etc., as well as moving back in to my parents while the floors are being done.

A: Adhesion is the most significant issue. It may very well be that there was a contaminant on the surface. In this situation, I generally warn people that I will attempt to use a cleaner to remove any possible contaminant, but there is no guarantee. Ripples, bare spots and bubbles are another issue, but are irrelevant now given the adhesion issue.

They will need to be fully sanded and finished. I would suggest you try and find someone who incorporates some sort of vacuum/filtration with their sanding equipment so that dust isn’t an issue. I would consider such a company willing to invest in equipment like this to take their job very seriously.

Ripples and pieces of partially dried finish in second coat

Q: We refinished our oak hardwood floors, on the second coat I went over an area and I guess it had started to film as when it dried (looked perfect when wet and setting up) it formed some ripples and what I think is pieces of partially dried finish into the coat. Can you sand this out with 220 and 320 sandpaper and apply the third coat or start over?

A: If the previous coating has adhered well you can rub it down with fine sandpaper and apply another coat.  Best to make sure there is no air movement across the floor when doing this.