A Deeper Dive Into Vetting a Hardwood Floor Refinisher Worth Their Salt

Based on a recent customer experience, we arrived at some “deeper dive questions” that will flush out the workmanship to be expected of a hardwood floor refinisher. Getting these questions answered will be telling! It will prove who the refinishers are and how they roll, and how they might benefit you before you give them a dime!  So here goes:

  • Ask for before and after pictures of their work, and specifically work that is similar to your project at hand
  • Request whether it could be arranged for you to speak with the client about their job, or even with their permission, ask to see the actual job (privacy as always is respected- if not a fit appreciation for such is suggested regarding the such client)
  • If they have a website, immerse yourself in it. Do they go into detail about what they do and how they do it?
  • Have them explain the preparation process and measures they will take ( content moving, isolating the work area, trim and door removal, special air quality control efforts)
  • Ask about the stains and finish materials— (what are the drying times, what Vocs will be introduced, are the chemicals water based & safe, and should you vacate the dwelling at any given time)
  • Confirm any medical limitations (allergies, asthma, respiratory problems, migraines) and ask if there are any what special measures are taken
  • Discuss any special measures with regard to pets—big dogs, little dogs, energetic dogs, cats, birds (especially birds, they are prone to health issues due to fumes)
  • If you get as far as having them to your home have them confirm the species of wood that you have. Then ask if they have experience in working with it (red oak, white oak, maple, hickory, cherry, birch, mahogany, eucalyptus)
  • Once confirmed ask them if there are any special considerations and tasks needed to work with your species, or age of the wood
  • If this is a historic floor (for these purposes 40-5o yrs or more) and do they have experience in working with vintage floors, and do they have a source for vintage material should they need it
  • Have them confirm the species first, they have them confirm there is an adequate layer even available to sand the floors
  • If on a slab, ask if it is engineered and will it withstand the sanding process
  • Confirm if they remove your interior doors and quarter round and /or trim. Ask if they will reinstall them afterwards, or ask if they will replace the trim with new (if you desire)
  • If repairs are needed ask them if they have experience in doing them
  • Question any need to replace any transitions or stair nosings, and what they might use
  • Ask to be considered to have upgrades- like custom flush mount HVAC vents (for 3/4″ floors only), or upgraded transitions, nosings’ or wood added on a 45° degree to isolate the work area
  • Ask them about certification, no years of experience, and how often they do refinishing jobs (you want a team that does this day in and day out, not occasionally)
  • Be nosy and ask if they own their own equipment, or do they rent it (if they rent it chances are they have less experience, and chances are the maintenance of the machine might have a negative impact on the sanding of your floor)
  • Be nosy again, and ask them about how they will sand the floors, i.e. how many times do they sand the floor, and with what grit sand paper ( it should be 24 grit, 36 or 50 to start), then skip a 20° grit with each pass; so a normal grit pattern might be 36-50-80-100) if they say they will start with a 24 grit, then skip to a 100 grit- run for the hills!)
  • Confirm if they are dustless, and ask them to explain how (their equipment adaptation, and precautionary measures)
  • Ask them about their stains and finish materials- what are the material drying requirements, maybe even ask to be referred to any literature or online reading about the manufacturers of the stain and finish systems
  • If leaving, how long should you stay off the floor, and why
  • Ask them what precautionary measures will be needed at the end of the job, during the curing process, i.e. do the floors need to be covered, can your pets be on the floors
  • Ask if you have access to the floors immediately any special instructions about furniture, pets, area rugs, and use of cleaning products

We have found that these useful tips will “separate the men from the boys” (sorry ladies). If the hardwood floor team either a) offers answers like these during the estimate / inspection in their conversation to you, or b) answers these questions that you directly ask you should be able to assess their answers. If they are matter of fact and directly answer your questions, then you probably have a good gauge they know their stuff. If they stammer and stumble, and seem to be tripped up a bit in answering, well that might “be your sign…”.

I know it is our practice to offer information directly during our walk through that speaks loud and clearly. So we would be considered or thrown in the “a” pack (above). If you end up with “b” pack answers to your questions you may want to keep searching for another hardwood floor refinishing team!

Hopefully our information speaks volumes about our hardwood floor refinishing. Feel free to call for a free estimate, or ask for a competent refinisher to be referred to should you be located outside our service area. You can reach us here, or 609.953.0472