Burlingame, CA Installation, sanding & refinishing, repairs, and recoats
The Sanding and Refinishing Process
glad you’ve contacted us, and this sheet is designed to let you find answers to
the common questions about floor renovation.What follows is a summary of the whole process, but you can skip ahead
to the index to find a particular subject.
take an artistic approach to floor refinishing, and I want to convey the
quality and care that I put into the work.I still work every job that I contract, and I guarantee that the job
goes smoothly from start to finish.
show up on the morning of the job and begin hanging plastic and sealing off
doors. We also put down tarps and blankets so that we can store equipment on
countertops, hearths, and other surfaces above the floor.
8” drum sander does the large floor
areas.There are up to three sandings,
with coarse, medium, and fine sandpaper.The edger is a small machine
that does closets,
the sides of the rooms, and any area too small
for the bigger sander.The buffer is used for the final overall
sanding.It burnishes the floor, removes
sanding marks, and blends the separate areas that the other sanders have
covered.Sanding with the buffer is
and cracks are filled throughout the sanding and refinishing portions of the
spread putty over the entire floor, and let it dry before sanding it.Many times we need to apply it twice.The average Bay area living room and dining
room have over 10,000 nails, and they appear in lines every 7”, all across your
Trimming is scraping out the
corners, hand-sanding the edges and doorways, and making sure all sander marks
are removed. We use 100-watt bulbs and 250-watt halogen lamps to highlight any
sanding marks and ridges.
all the preparation is done, we sweep and vacuum, and apply either a sealer or
a stain.When this is dry, we buff and
vacuum this coat, and apply the first coat of polyurethane.
coats of polyurethane, we fill in all the remaining cracks and nailholes.We dust
surfaces with hand brooms, rags, and compressed air.We then buff the floor for the last time,
vacuum it carefully, and tack the floor with wet rags to remove any film of
dust that remains.The last coat usually
needs to dry overnight before walking on it.
or staining? ……………………………………………………………………2
many coats of finish?…………………………………………………………….2
dusty will it be?…………………………………………………………………..3
and nailholes-a very important point!………………………………………….3
waves in existing floors…………………………………………………………...3
comes first-sanders or painters?………………………………………………… 4
most expensive floors to refinish……………………………………………….….8
extras that add to the cost of the job……………………………………………….8
re-nailing the floor
we fix squeaks?.........................................................................................................
the sanding, we seal your floor with a sealer or a stain, and then we layer
protective coats of polyurethane on top of the base coat.
A natural look is achieved by using a
clear sealer.There is no color in this
coat, so it allows the natural color of the floor to come through.With oak, this is a “honey-colored” or blonde
appearance.There are two choices for
this, and I have samples of each.
pigmented stains, there is color
added to the floor, usually in combinations of brown and red tones.Stains require more detailed sanding
procedures, and take longer to apply.If there are to be many repairs on a job, a
stain is usually necessary to blend the new wood with the old.
How many coats of finish?
use three coats total finish on my
jobs, which is the recommended procedure for the finishes that I use.That is, I put down one sealer or stain coat,
and then apply two coats of protective polyurethane.For heavy traffic areas I recommend a fourth
the case of stains, I can also apply an extra sealer coat on top of the stain,
if necessary.This sometimes helps to
match a stain to an existing floor color.
How dusty will
parts of the house that are not being sanded will be sealed off so that no dust
escapes the sanding area.I use both 2
millimeter and 4 millimeter plastic sheeting, and I use blue painter’s tape.This is a specialized tape that has holding
power, but is designed not to pull existing paint from walls or woodwork.
In doorways we install thick sheets of plastic
with zippered door openings, so that people can go in and out of the dust area
and seal up the plastic behind them.
bring large fans in, and set them so that a continuous breeze goes through the
house.This helps keep the dust cleared
in the work area itself.
plastic needs to stay up for the entire job.Even though the sanding is finished mid-way through, there is still
light dust raised by the buffing that we do between coats.
cabinets, stairwells and floor-to-ceiling bookcases involve much more work to
seal.I charge on an hourly basis for
these situations.Sometimes we need to
long walls of plastic that are held up by telescoping poles.
the sanding process is done, we bring in an air compressor and blow out the
dust from walls and vertical surfaces.Then we sweep the job down.
dust control can be time-consuming.Not
only do we have to set up the barriers, but we also need to maintain them
during the course of the job.
nailholes--a very important point!
nailholes is probably the most disputed topic between flooring contractors and
customers.Standards vary widely on
this--when comparing prices, ask how thorough this process is going to be.I have found that most customers want all the
nailholes filled, and I advise this even if the job is a rental.It is a time-consuming process, but the end
result is worth the price.
of the cracks and many of the nailholes are filled during the sanding
process.The putty is troweled onto the
floor, allowed to dry, and then sanded off.Usually we have to repeat the process twice during the job.
are always nailholes that remain
unfilled after even two trowelings.The
sanders knock out some of the new putty on each pass.And before the floor is coated, it moves
enough that putty can work its way out of the holes.The only way to fill the remaining holes is
to wait until at least one coat of polyurethane is applied.Then we go around with linseed oil putty, and
hand-fill holes and cracks.On a 1,000
square foot job, it can take two men up to four hours to do this work.
I price the nailhole work
between coats of polyurethane as a separate item.It makes it easier to compare my prices with that of
other flooring companies.As you can
see, there can be many definitions of “filling the nailholes,” and just
applying one layer of putty is usually not going to be sufficient.
The waves in existing floors
Almost all floors will have
waviness in them, due to subfloor deficiencies and the movement of the house
over the years.The floor boards also
sand unevenly because of hard and soft parts of the wood; the sander cuts
differently on different parts of the grain.
This waviness is not the same
as gouges and dips from the sanding machines.It is part of the structure of the floor, and the sander will not get
rid of these on a normal job.
You won’t notice the waves
and dips on your present floor, because over time the darkening of the finish
with age tends to mask them.I can point
them out to you on the estimate, so that you have some idea of the condition of
Eliminating these structural
features is generally so expensive that it is not cost-effective on the typical
sanding job.It involves the use of
heavy-grit screen or sanding discs that attach to the buffer, and can add
several days to even a smaller job(500
sq.ft. and under).
The buffer is used to grind
down the floor, with three to four different grits of sanding material.This happens after the drum sander has taken
off all of the old finish, and the floor is down to bare wood.
first-sanders or painters?
can be problems with both approaches to this.Generally, there are fewer problems if the painters come in first.
compromise that I’ve come up with seems to work well for many people.We come in first, and do all our sanding
work.We then either seal or stain the
floor, and we put on one of the two protective coats..
the painters can come in, and cover the floor.They don’t have to be as careful of the floor as if it were completely
finished-the “work” coats on the floor are not the final coats, so they can get
scuffed without problems.The painters
usually need to lightly sand the walls, so any dust we leave on the walls gets
removed along with theirs.The painters
can also touch up the baseboards if necessary.
we come in a do the final coat on the floor, after all other work is done.This works especially well for kitchens,
where cabinets need to be put in.
If the painting is done
first, the painters will need to come back and touch up thebaseboards.Even quality
paint will fleck off when it is new, and we have to get right next to the
baseboards to remove all old finish.Dust on the walls is usually not that big a problem, especially with
stained areas usually won’t sand out--these are urine stains from pets, and the
acid goes deep into the wood.Boards
that are crowned or cupped from water damage also need to be replaced.I charge an hourly rate for repairs, plus any
in prominent places on a floor job sometimes mean that a stain will have to be
applied.A natural finish has no
pigment, and does not hide differences in new and old wood.
Sometimes repairs need to be
put into the estimate on a “maybe” basis.This occurs if I can’t be sure if a stain will sand out, or if there is
carpet or furniture in a room at the time of the estimate.
work is also an area for misunderstandings between contractor and customer.
actual replacing of boards is only half the job, and it’s easy to overlook all
the additional work that goes on.
There is a lot of preparation that has to go
into doing repairs, and a lot of clean-up work to do afterward.We have to replace more wood than just the
damaged area, for one thing.A
good-looking patch is “laced in” to the existing floor, and that means that the
joints are staggered out in all directions.If you look at your existing floor, you’ll see that the joints are
usually not less than six inches apart.
charge for more material than the size of the patch, too.When we’re doing a small patch, we may have
to go through twice the amount of material to find the best boards.On a patch job, every piece of wood
counts!On a big install, we hide ugly
pieces in corners and closets, but there’s nowhere to hide bad wood on a
Repair expenses can also
include these items:
1)Cleaning up the room or
rooms after the repair is done.We can’t
sand until every piece of repair equipment is out, and all the old wood and
debris cleaned up.
2)The extra sanding or planing needed to bring the height of the
wood down.The new wood is often thicker
than the old.
3)The time needed to carry repair equipment on the job, and set it
up.Even the smallest repair can
sometimes involve every saw that I own!
4)The nailhole filling that must be repeated several times.
5)The unexpected repair that pushes the job out of schedule.If an unplanned repair delays a necessary
procedure in the regular job, it can cost us more to do the job.This doesn’t happen often, but is something
that needs to be discussed before doing the repairs in question.
I can spend a lot of time
trying to match what’s already in your home.Stain matches require a good eye, and can require lots of testing.I have small wood samples that I can use to
get a general idea of the color, but the actual color that works on YOUR floor can
be a trial-and-error process.
apply a satin finish for all homeowner jobs, unless the customer specifically
requests a gloss or semi-gloss sheen.There are samples of each that you can view.I charge more for high-gloss finishes, as
they take more work to apply, and highlight every defect in the existing floor.
finishes I use are all water-based.This
technology has been around for over two decades now.Water-based polyurethanes are used on all
major contracts for government work, and are standard for sports arenas.Bona “Traffic” is used for coating the Maples
Pavilion gym floor at Stanford, for instance.
are two finishes I offer.This is a
brief description of them, and they are listed in order of cost..
This is an excellent finish.It is a good combination of cost and
durability, and comes in satin, gloss, and semi-gloss.
This is a one-part finish—it has no added hardener.
The latest in commercial water-based finishes.Traffic is very expensive, but it is a
state-of-the-art finish, and very popular. It does come in a satin sheen, as
well as gloss and semi-gloss.
Traffic is used for professional sports arenas,
dance floors, and stores.It uses a
two-part formula, with a separate hardener added to the finish.
Added cost:.32 per sq.ft.
coats usually dry within two hours, on first or second coats.Final coats can take longer.You can walk on a first or second coat with
shoes as soon as they are dry.
coats should not be walked on the day they are applied, and it is best to go in
stocking feet for the next two to three days after.
Dogs should be kept off the floor for a full week.
have almost completely stopped using oil polyurethanes.This is for my own well- being, as well as
for the health of my customers.The Bay
Area Air Quality Management Board begin phasing out their use in 1987, but various
loopholes in the law have allowed the sale of oil poly in quart cans.If I need to use this product, I charge more
for applying it.
do use oil sealers and oil-based stains.At the present time, there are no professional water-based stains being
Oil sealer on stains:I allow for the possibility of putting down an oil
sealer on top of the stain coat, if I think it is needed.The oil sealer can serve two purposes.It helps match the stain to an existing floor
better, in some cases.Oil products add
an amber tint to the color, and can also darken the color slightly.
sealer can also be used to even out blotchiness in a stain coat.I do not generally have to deal with this
problem, but some floors will come up blotchy in small areas, no matter how
well we sand them.The sealer coat can even
out most color variations in a stain.
Care of the
the floor from scratches, dents, and wear is done by following these steps:
1)Use tracking mats outside all exterior doors
2)Placing throw rugs or small carpets just inside entrances, in
front of appliances, or any other high-traffic areas.The kitchen sink especially needs a mat in
front of it.
3)Buying felt pads and/or glides for all furniture and
fixtures.These come in many different
sizes and shapes, and are available at hardware stores.
4)Keep pet claws clean and trimmed.
cleaning and maintenance, you can vacuum the floor frequently with a brush
attachment.The less water you use for
cleaning, the better.Bona Hardwood floor cleaner is now
available at most Ace Hardware stores.It comes in spray bottles, and is the recommended finish for the Bona
products that we used to refinish the floor. If you don't use the cleaner, then
damp mopping should work.Avoid the use
of soaps and oils, as these can interfere with recoating the floors.
you have sanded and refinished your floors, you can protect your investment by
having them recoated every three to five years.If the heavy traffic areas are protected, floors can often go for longer
with one or two coats of polyurethane can bring back the original sheen, and
re-establishes the protection.We don’t
have to sand, but we do have to powder the original finish with a buffer
pad.I use a special preparation liquid,
which cleans and helps soften the old finish.Then I fill any open nailholes, vacuum and tack-cloth the floor, and
apply the new coats.
expensive floors to refinish
Parquet floorsThese are block floors, squares of hardwood where
the grain runs in both directions.They
need an extra sanding with fine paper on the drum sander, and then they have to
be heavily sanded with the buffer at least twice, to cut out the cross-grain
marks the sander leaves behind.A
stained parquet floor needs the most work.
Maple floorsMaple is an unforgiving wood, and needs to be sanded
very carefully.Even a natural finish
can show machine scratches, and has to be sanded with extra-fine paper.The finish also shows every defect and speck
of dust.Since maple floors are usually
in more modern houses, the lighting cans also highlight the floor.
HallwaysFor most work
per square foot, you can’t beat a hallway.There may be as many as nine doorways involved, including closets,
cellar and garage entrances, and bedrooms and baths.We use vacuum cleaners and fans to sand each
doorway, trim it completely, and then seal off that entrance for the duration
of the job.Hallways can also be
installed sideways rather than lengthwise; this means that our big sander can’t
run with the grain.
work on a flooring job usually involves doing only the treads, which are the horizontal surfaces that people actually step
on.The nosing is the rounded front of each tread, and is also sanded and
risers are the vertical faces of each
step, and are commonly painted.The
material is usually Douglas fir softwood.A curved piece of wood trim is attached just below the nosing.This is called scotia, and is painted to match the riser. Some stairs do have oak
risers and oak scotia, and these are more costly to refinish.
Balusters are the spindled pieces of
wood that support the railing.If a
tread has one or more balusters drilled into it, it makes refinishing a tread
more expensive, since we have to trim around balusters with scrapers and hand
Side nosings appear on some stairs, and
also need to be refinished.
that add to the price of the job
1)More than eight steps to the house, and long
uphill walkways.This can add much time
to the job, as we carry many pieces of equipment in and out of the house.
2)Thresholds, fireplace trim, and reducers that
need to be refinished.
3)Gloss or semi-gloss finish
6)Work areas on different levels of a house, or
in separated areas.
7)Replacing existing baseboard or baseshoe
out the V-grooves on plank flooring, and filling the nailholes on these floors.
9)Floors that have cupped or crowned wood.
10)Floor areas that can only be sanded by edgers
or grinders; i.e. under a stairway or bench.
11)Large open areas to be sealed off from dust
12)Broken-up floor plans that have more than the
corners per square foot.
13)Matching an existing finish.
and refinishing stair risers
Is re-nailing the floor needed?
thankfully it’s seldom needed, even with older floors.Re-nailing is a tedious process, and it
interrupts the flow of the job.
loose floor is not apparent during the estimate, because the old finish tends
to bind the floorboards together so that they don’t move. The floor may move as a whole—squeaky areas,
for instance—but the individual strips don’t show movement
as soon as we sand off the old finish, the individual strips are no longer
joined, and they can start to flex.We
notice this problem if the new putty is breaking out as soon as we sand over
it.I can demonstrate it to customers by
pressing down on boards near the nail row.The boards will sink a fraction of an inch, which shows that they’re not
being secured by the existing nails.
problem occurs more on floors that were laid at a 90-degree angle to the planks
in the subfloor.If the subfloor planks
were laid diagonally, or if the subfloor is plywood, the hardwood is almost
Can we get rid
can do this, but not by nailing down the hardwood floor.Squeaks happen between two parts of the
subfloor, and that’s where the problem has to be solved.The subfloor is often rubbing on the floor
joists, and if you go into the basement with a flashlight, and have someone
jump on the floor, you can see the gap between the subfloor plank and the
joists that hold the floor up.Driving a
shim of wood into this gap will stop the squeak.
is harder to fix on second story floors, as we have no access to the subfloor
from underneath. In those cases, we
remove some hardwood, and sink long screws into the subfloor from above.
there you have it—an overview of what it takes to sand and refinish your
floor.It’s quite a journey, and I enjoy
taking people through the process. I hope you’ll consider working with us.