Dueling Wood Jobs

Wendy’s Blog

Water and wood clash as the hardwood floors got refinished.

Cabin view
See the view, just stunning, and as stunning as the floors we refinished!
With a goal to getting this very desirable lakefront log cabin and lot in Medford Lakes ready to sell, all contracting was put in action the day after the tenants vacated. Although the tenants wished they could buy it, its expected listing price was well north of what the tenant would be able to handle as a single parent.

This lakefront property, tucked at the end of a trail off Upper Aetna, has commanding views of the lake well above lake level. The view from the lodge room, kitchen and master is magnificent. 

By day two Jill, the 'designer in charge had to re-direct the contractors around one another.

Basically, the initial contracting began with us, the hardwood floor refinishers, the painters, the kitchen cabinet painters, and the exterior team to pressure wash, repair / replace logs and chinking before sealing the exterior logs.The other contracting like landscaping and staging would come later. 

So besides some painting schedule hiccups, Jill realized the house painters needed to come after we were done.They were okay to step back a bit. But with a tight schedule overall, Deck Restorations Plus, or “DRP” needed to get started, and so did we. Perhaps both of us with the more complicated jobs, we had to find a way to make it work.

Cleaning wood logs and chinking
Despite gentle cleaning water did damage some of our floors

The exterior log repairs and refinishing should have been done first.

But time would not permit. So we had to rearrange our schedule and let them plow thru before continuing with any further work.

And honestly we had already begun sanding the kitchen, the lodge room, the stairs and the master. So with bated breath and fingers crossed we watched as the exterior pressure washing or hand scraping and hosing ensued.

With one wall a red hot mess, DRP made no promises that water wouldn't get it.

If I could dare say that the writing was on the wall, the fact is one vertical exterior wall was hammered. There were rotten logs, missing chinking, separated chinking and moss growing, as evidence of a moisture problem. Rob, DRP’s manager and Matt, the team leader explained to me how they were taking extra precaution in the vunerable areas to limit the amount of water and the pressure, so it had less of a chance of migrating inside on our work.

So their plan was to hand scrub and hose down this area, instead of the normal procedure of pressure washing it. By hand agitating and just hosing off the idea was to achieve the results without blasting the logs and compromised area with high psi water pressure. And just for what is about 15-20′ of an exterior dormer area, it might have done the trick.

The kitchen suffers the first leaks of water on to the vulnerable, already sanded wood.

Not but 20 minutes into carefully cleaning that area we had our first leak come through to the kitchen floor—from the ceiling.

Turns out the lowest line of chinking pulled away from the bottom log. There was a substantial gap right at the roof line. So even with the garden hose gently rinsing, it was too much. Now the rain from mother nature would almost never be able to come in contact with this gap. It was stressed because it was a direct, sideways hit from the water hose. Through a crack in the ceiling right where the kitchen table sits, in the middle of the floor is where the drips and water affected the, recently sanded, unfinished hardwood. 

Marvin quickly applied rags to hopefully absorb the water, and could deal with the minor water later. 

Moving to the north wall then to the front, more water came in by the fireplace and entry.

As they got to the next, lower level wall all seemed ok. But then casement window leaked by the formal dining area of the lodge room. Thankfully it didn’t affect the floor. So we were ok. 

But not long after, working by the fireplace wall in the lodge room, water was streaming down the floor. You could easily see the drips running down the logs. Not copious amounts of water, but enough of a nusiance. Good thing more sanding would correct what could easily have been noticeable damage had we been further along. ny raw wood will absorb and display a spot where the drips hit the wood if left unattended to. 


Water leak log cabin
The arrows show where all the water leaked down the logs above the front door
bucket catching water leak in log cabin
The leaks were so bad we had to put a bucket and rags to save the floor

After seeing leaks myself I was texted even more pictures of leaks.

Now we are not getting off so easy. Thankfully Marvin was working in the area when water started migrating through the front door. 

This time it was a heavier stream. The picture he sent me was black water collecting into the 5 gallon bucket he placed on the door threshold. 

And add to that now black water was migrating and appearing in the stair corners where the chinking failed. Here we discovered the chinking, which is supposed to be hard as concrete was not. In fact, it was spongy. The black water leaked and absorbed in the raw wood stair tread. Now we detected a bit of lasting trouble.

We couldn't do anything about it, so we called it a day.

Now having patience and trying to ‘not bark’, Marvin our wood technician realized it is what it is. They had a job to do and so did we. If only they did their thing first, it would be less damage control for us. 

 Hindsight is ticking and this client wants to list quickly so we just had to make due. 

They moved along a section of the front of the house where we weren’t sanding, so that was a break. But the next day they were on the south side of the house, right outside the family room. 

All sanded and ready, we decided to hold off applying our seal coat just in case. And a good decision that was. While addressing the upper dormer wall and roof area water trickled down the faux beams and dripped on to the raw wood floor there as well. 

But the best was yet to come!

Saying a prayer for the master!

As they worked their way to the south and then east wall Marvin was busy correcting the water damage as best he could.

We wanted to wait till all the wet work was done. Then we would make our corrections and continue making progress.

This time it appears we are in trouble.

Water leak in Master Bedroom
Thankfully this looks worse than it was, it didn't damage the wood floor

As they rounded the corner of the house from the south to the east, and on the upper dormer area we had a puddle with debris stream down the wall. Luckily it wasn’t black water, just water with bits and cedar “flakes.” I arrived shortly there after and started to freak out.

They proceeded past that window area, and more came in near the french door. At first Marvin said lets leave it till it’s dry. But later cleaned it up. And good, because it became a non-issue. 

Finally, the last two walls were addressed along with under the master balcony.

About 90% of the way there, they were on the home stretch. A little water came in from the kitchen door. Then some came in that landed on the granite counter. (Good thing it didn’t collect enough to stream down the freshly painted kitchen cabinets—that might have been real trouble. 

And lastly, one more hit. Black water did seep in under the east kitchen wall window. 

A relief! The wet work is done, now time for damage control!

All in all the water damage could have been far worse. There were only three areas where the black water did cause a problem. For the most part the runner on the stairs will obscure the black water damage left in 3 tiny corners on the stairs. There is a sliver of damage in the master, and one in the kitchen.

Having grown up in a log cabin myself, and as a kid having to help maintain the logs, it was nice to see Deck Restorations Plus at their game. The owner, Everette Abrams, known as “The Wizard of Wood”, has a good business tending to the log work in Medford Lakes, and deck work in the So Jersey Area. Besides being an exterior wood care instructor, his team is the go-to’ for exterior wood and decking care.  To see more about them click here.

With a sigh of relief we could now move forward toward our end result.

Thankfully they are done with the wet work. We could next proceed with confidence that our final sanding, final prep, staining and or tinting coats could be executed without affecting our work. 

I really don’t recommend that conflicting work be done like this. Time was of the essense, so we plowed through. If there is any advice to offer, contracting should be thought out carefully. We were able to hobble along, but there could have been worse consequences. Phew! I am glad it is over!

Ps- to see the results of our work click here. 


They too had a job to do, and a crunch line! This was a timing issue. They modified their procedures and were careful. We pulled back and adjusted. We dealt with most of the impact. And both our jobs got done. Jill the interior design- stager can now orchestrate the next round of contracting, and the final staging and landscaping. From our perspective we are out of their way. Not it’s the final count down to listing! Good Luck Rob & Wendy!!!!!

A Footnote- We worked well with DRP, who tried their best not to disturb our work and we are grateful for that!

If you are planning hardwood floor refinishing  with other contracting give us a call to discuss the best time to schedule the floor work.Free estimates Call Us at 609.953.0472, or Contact Us on line and we will reach out to you.