The grounds the refuge calls home, like everywhere in the Pine Barrens, is mostly sand. The constant traffic is relentless. Staff, members, families and bus loads of school children and visiting groups took their toll and wore down the finish on their hardwood floors. Over time the grit on shoes ground the finish down to the raw wood. Then wet shoes, dirty mop water, and other crud got absorbed in, which caused the dirty, ugly gray-black traffic patterns to appear.
Aged finish also was a problem. Sun exposure reacted with it and faded out areas. Other areas yellowed or developed an orange tinge, both making it look stale. Together with the black worn foot traffic, the overall appearance was inconsistent, and actually unsightly.
Michael O’Malley, Executive Director at Cedar Run on a “lark” called us, Sparkle Surface Care by Classic Services. Wendy answered and listened to his request for donated services, and was drawn in knowing how much Cedar Run meant to the community. She wanted to help. Agreeing to see the hardwood floor refinishing project, she made a call to Bryan Livingston of Ergonomic Flooring. She invited him to look too, hoping his company to team up with hers. Eagerly Bryan signed on, and both arranged to meet together at the refuge.
Other Trade Professionals Signed On To Donate
The floor, although hammered, had plenty of life left in it, with some TLC. After working out a plan, they both gathered some materials and finish from their suppliers. The sand paper was donated by local supplier T & T. And the finish system, a natural water based and amazingly resilient finish, was donated by Vermont Natural Coatings.
This finish was ideal for the project as it is a safer, low Voc (no strong smells- smells like “baking!”), non-toxic, non carcinogenic and natural formulation that is green, and clean water certified. A unique blend made of a derivative of whey (used in cheese making) it is trademarked and sold as Poly Whey™. Marketed as a “better Whey™” (to refinish floors) it happily came to us from the cows, courteously from Vermont Natural Coatings. How fitting for it to be used at a wildlife refuge!
When discussing this with Michael of Cedar Run, he of course acknowledged the sensitivity of birds to chemicals. Home to their rare bird, “Henry” (an albino cardinal), he liked what he heard about a safer finish alternative for the Nature Center, Although Henry was removed from the building during the work, he appreciated that the finish would not have any impact on the bird, or any occupants for that matter before, during or after the work was done.
A side bar note: If you require or prefer work done in your home without nasty chemicals brought in to your home, then this hardwood floor refinishing process is for you. Some polyurethane coatings cause bizarre reactions that applicators experience (about 14% of them), Chris of Sparkle, being one of them. If they cause significant physical reactions for the applicators that forbids their use—throat closing, eye ball swelling reactions needing emergency-anti inflammatory intervention— why should they be brought in and used in customers’ homes? By-passing those finishes almost entirely, we are committed to using the Vermont Coatings system to refinish the hardwoods our customers want us to do. (A sturdy and impressive finish system, PolyWhey™, a “better whey” holds its own up to other chemical polyurethane options.) While industry professionals support many other credible options that do have a regarded place in the industry, we, because of personal experience choose to work with more friendly options.
The day in mid January arrived, and “Team Cedar Run” met. Arriving were two trailers full of equipment and two skilled teams who were fired up and “rocked the floor!” This happened quickly (over the weekend). The floors were transformed from old, tired and worn ones to fresh, smooth, rejuvenated ‘like new ones.
First, the new scratch which appeared the day before as they removed the large gift shop display, was sanded and fixed. (More About Hardwood Floor Scratches.) The floors were sanded to remove the sun faded and yellowed finish, foot traffic damage, and moisture damage.
Another concern was addressed as well. A troublesome step causing visitors to trip needed a more prominent alert and warning sign. Starting with merely a tattered red tape on the loose stair nosing a better solution was applied. It was removed, sanded, re-secured and lettered. When done, the stenciled “watch your step” caution sign (in bright red) alerts folks better than just the red tape. ⇒ See How The Safety Lettering Improves Visibility
Frankly the kitchen and side entrance floor looked dated—vintage 70’s. They were real relics! Totally detracting from all the good work, the crew excitedly replaced the kitchen and side entrance floor with some new vinyl plank (LVP) flooring. It was a no-brainer and only took but a couple extra hours!
The result, the Nature Center now sported a new, upgraded, trendy look. Having done replaced those floors made the whole place “pop!” We think you’d agree. See for yourself, check out the New Kitchen Floor Upgrade.
When we first met Bryan (of Ergonomic) got all excited, then shared his surprise with Cedar Run’s Brian. He informed Michael sometime over the weekend he was, and did donate a VHS (video tape) of a an interview of Betty Woodford.
In fact, Michael became stunned, was ecstatic—almost speechless, about the news. He pointed out they hardly had any photographs of her, let alone video. This surprise was surreal, and beyond expectation. The floors themselves were a terrific score alone, for which they are appreciated about!
Done by he and a friend for a middle school project, it was over an hour long. It took place as Bryan interviewed Betty who walked and guided them around the entire refuge. She shared all kinds of information and stories gathered from a lifetime of dedication devoted to her beloved refuge, and to the Pine Barrens. (To date the video is being converted and will be available soon!)
The thought of new material, modern converted video footage at that, filled a frustrating void they have had to live with. Without seeing it yet the video is already regarded an added treasure. The footage will be going to good use to further portray Betty’s amazing life dedicated to the nature and habitat she, and many of us all call home.
The extra to-do’s were addressed, starting with the scratch in the middle of the floor. It was fixed. The stair treads were removed and sanded. The stair nosing by the front entrance was removed and cleaned up, then re-secured and ready for the seal coat.
The sanding team fired up the sanders and began the rough cuts. Moving across the main part of the floor (the field) with the big sanders (called drum sanders) they started with the aggressive grit sandpaper. They progressed nicely (from 36, 50 & 80) each grit getting finer as they covered the floor. The two guys on the edgers followed suit. (The edgers blend the sides where the main sanders can’t reach.) Soon the corners were hand scraped. By 4:30, after the fine sanding was done, they were ready for the seal coat.
Saturday Was Busy With The Safety Lettering and The New Floor Installation
The team reconvened. The focus this time was on the installation of the new vinyl plank floor. Rolling over the existing vinyl sheet goods the boards were carefully laid, then clicked in to place. Although pretty simple they had to take their time with the cuts and the installation. Also, they had to rework the transitions so they worked with the new level and they looked good.
Meanwhile Bryan and Wendy focused on the safety lettering. The lettering was laid out on the reinstalled and better secured stair bull nosing. It was sprayed with red acrylic spray paint, top coated then ready for the final finish coats the rest of the floor would receive at days end. Mark that To-Do list “done”, the stair treads were coated with the Vermont Coatings PolyWhey™ finish. One final coat to be applied Sunday morning and they would be done too.
First final coat of PolyWhey™ finish was applied to the floors and allowed to dry. Finishing touches continued in the kitchen and side entrance. Then the second coat of finish was applied. Given the dry winter weather the finish dried quickly, which was a plus since we wanted to get everything done by the end of the weekend.
Team Cedar Run’s Big Dogs, Bryan, Chris and Wendy, and Michael O’Malley agreed to meet at six-thirty, way dark too early in the am, to wrap things up. Funny that some of us arrived incognito so as not to disturb the early morning viewing audience (Perhaps having some fun, we enjoyed a laugh and a little levity as we worked.)
Chris gave the stair treads a final finish coat. Bryan and Chris prepped the main floor, and teamed up tandem style to apply the finish. Wendy spent the time answering Cedar Run’s Michael’s questions, and started to review the post finish instructions.
Excitedly the floors, finished naturally, look fantastic and proud once again! Everything else tended to was beyond expectation, and the surprise video footage sent their gratitude and appreciation “to the heavens.”
If you’d like a more in-depth rendition (ideally for nature lovers and supporters of Cedar Run), click here: Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge Receives Gift of Hardwood Floor Refinishing.