A bad refinishing job by a professional

Q: We recently had our red oak flooring sanded and finished. I installed new in three rooms. The dining room and foyer was installed 25 years ago when we built our home. The person we hired claimed 20 years of experience. After all was done and we came back home we were disappointed with his work. The old flooring had dark and light patches. The perimeter of the room was darker than the field.

You could see marks from the edger also. There was grit under the finish. More in some places than another, but grit in all the rooms. There are chatter marks throughout. He knows we are not pleased, but he is not willing to refund any of his fee. He stated that it is industry standard. I can’t believe that.

Moving all our furnishings out and living in a motel again for it to be redone is not possible. Will we loose our finish where the grit is from walking across it?

A: Industry standard? I don’t know who created this little myth but I don’t think anyone would be pleased or accept these results. The person who did the work, if he cared at all about the quality of work he produced and cared for those he worked for even he would not accept this. His sanding is not good. His grit selection is wrong. He didn’t even make sure the work area was clean along with the finish. Every time I coat a floor I run what finish is left over through a strainer to make sure it is clean. This all sounds so poorly done I can even be sure if he has done thorough inter-coat preparation to ensure adhesion. Who knows? This work needs to be done over to fix it. One thing you might consider is contacting the National Wood Flooring Association to see if they have a floor inspector in your area who could come survey this and write up a report. At least then you have something official from a person who represents a national trade organization.

Follow-up: Thanks for the information. I appreciate it. We did contact some inspectors from the association but the cost was over $400 to look at the floor so we backed off on it for now. Hate to throw good money after bad. If this is what people are getting I can understand the reason folks have leaned toward prefinished. I suppose I’m old school.

A: Wow, I had no idea they charged that kind of money. I’ve heard this ‘it’s industry standard’ before. In a new subdivision the builders pre finished floor severely cupped. Well, I can imagine at some point the entire interior structure was soaking wet. It takes time to dry. Nobody checks with a moisture meter and the wood is brought in and thrown down without acclimating it. And they say it is industry standard. It’s probably industry standard that the paint on my 2010 GMC Sierra this past winter just started to fall off the truck. Nice shiny metal underneath.

I guess I’m old school too. I did one stain job years ago that turned out to be a real stinker. When I applied the stain, everything that could be wrong with a job was wrong with this. It wasn’t a comfortable evening for me when I went home. My brain was analyzing why these problems had occurred and how I could fix it. And I came up with answers and solutions and was able to rescue the job so that it was as it should have been: i.e. the real industry standard. But a person has to be honest enough to see what they have done.

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