High heels can be as disastrous for hardwood floors as crampons on mountaineering boots would be- Just sayin’
FACT: A 125 pound woman in stiletto heels displaces more pounds of pressure per square inch than A A full grown elephant!–Sad News For Hardwood Floors! Beware of guests wearing stilettos (or others for that matter) with damaged heel tips–“Did You Say Stilettos Are Hot Again? Oh, Cha-Ching!”
The Problem du Jour
This stylish homeowner, a really sweet gal, loves her high heels, and fully admits her heel indulgence, lovely as they may be, contributed to the need to have her hardwood floors refinished. But clearly there were other issues with the floor that needed serious attention. You could kinda say it was a lifestyle impact, like the ones we all have in one way or another. Even oak, a harder wood, was no match for 14 years of exposure to heels. In conjunction with a new kitchen/ family room renovation, it was the right time to refinish the floors and set the tone for the design-renovation upgrade.
So, between some cabinet location changes, sun fade, heel damage, other things that life affects and bestows upon floors, we embraced the project. For our part it was a matter of, get in, prep, sand, and stain–mostly, then let the kitchen install commence, then come back for final coat and call it a day.
Frankly, there was a lot going on, and our designer friend, Claudia Affannato was overseeing the project and managing all the trade professionals coming in to help this Cinnaminson, NJ homeowner. This particular project we were pleased to work with some new folks, Tri-County Development, and John Wright Painting. The trick here is to coordinate the move-out, do the demo and subfloor & board repair first (which we did.) Next, it was our turn to ‘rock-on,’ on the hardwood floor refinishing all the way thru to just before the final coat. So, for the most part, everyone stayed off until we were nearly done.
One particular problem, though for us, was the antique baby grand piano, an heirloom handed down by our client’s grandmother. In no way, shape or form was it to be moved off the floor. Instead, we had to so carefully move it to sand, then stain and coat in place. Not our recommendation, but the client prevailed. An area rug will be placed underneath ultimately, and she accepted the responsibility that it was not the best possible outcome.
Prior to sanding, the customer agreed to the floor vent upgrade we recommended (possible because the floor was 3/4′ thick.) So repairs are always first, then the sanding begins. Actually this went swiftly, however, all the tradespeople were chomping at the bit, especially the Gen’l Contractor. But everyone was patient as we worked quickly and thoroughly.
Our client was indecisive about the stain color choice. But together with Claudia, who knows and sees the bigger picture, they settled on Coffee Brown. So with that nailed, we worked on final finish sanding, and water popping (a technique to reveal imperfections in the sanding and floor not able to be seen by the naked eye.) The floor was ready, and we could coat.
Our client was notified they all would have to absolutely stay off the floor, which she assured us they would cooperate. However, she requested to walk across the stained floor to get some outfits for work. Knowing this we agreed to a certain time so we could greet her and make sure she did not disturb or affect the raw, extremely vulnerable bare hardwood. And just like me, Wendy, this gal is a real multi-tasker, in fact, one on steroids (like me.) Her mind goes a mile a minute.
No heels, no wet shoes on my new floor! With us both laughing, I did not want a disaster to repeat itself. Like years past when another client snuck across a raw floor with wet sneakers for a change of underwear that took 2 weeks to fix (we were determined to keep that from happening again.) That was an expensive pair of underwear, which we had to eat. Having that experience haunt us, no way would that expensive lesson happen again.
Removing her heels and putting on the socks we giggled and she went to get her outfits. Then without skipping a step, and before I could stop her, she walked from the foyer right on to the wet front door mat, down the stairs and across the wet grass. And most likely, thinking about all she had to do, and all the places to be, had it not been for me she would have walked back on the raw wood with the wet socks I gave her.
Again I blocked her at the door and gave her a choice, either she make due with what she had or she could fashion the plastic bags on her feet (to protect the raw wood floor), and go back in to get the rest of her clothes. A good sport, she allowed me to tie them on each foot, before it was too late! Phew, a disaster was averted!
The color went down and looked gorgeous, and the home transformation is starting to become dramatic.
Now we moved quickly to the seal coat, and the first finish coat with the clock ticking and the trades getting anxious to get started. Tri-County came to see the progress and meet with Claudia, and they complimented our lead sander for the beautiful job. He especially commented on the custom vent upgrade and asked for our business cards (a nice compliment from a trained eye.)
After the first finish coat, we jumped back on the floor to cover it completely with a breathable protective board, called ram board. We knew the workers had to bring in their equipment, ladders, sprayers and work and walk on the floors. Any of it could certainly damage the floors and ruin our work. The ram board was applied.
Meeting with Claudia to coordinate, I arrived to see the general contractor, plumber, electrician, painter, and the tile guy all buzzing about. Seemed to be a good group, and the interaction was jovial (not always the case with competing personalities, tempers and timelines.) I particularly remember the plumber as having a real sense of humor. And with the lighthearted talk, it seemed to be like a whistle-while-you-work kind of day.
Gulp. Simultaneously while having a laugh, one of the plumber’s helpers drops his hole saw case, on the ram board, and flips the lid open so it bangs the hardwood. Actually not just a gulp, I also gasped. I went to the helper and gently explained how vulnerable the freshly coated floor was. Seemed my message was taken in stride, and everyone was aware they had to do their part to ‘tip-toe’ while working, and I was pleased everyone happily agreed. I just couldn’t be there everyday policing the job.
Several weeks go by, and the project is about to complete. We were notified and scheduled the last coat, then the last details before completely being done. The ram board came up, tweak some little repairs, and ‘a-coating’ we could go. Frankly, the floors were absolutely gorgeous. So brilliant and rich looking, it made the entire remodel project “pop” even more. We installed the trim, re-installed the doors, took the plastic down, and did the final clean up. And lastly, after a couple of quiet no walk curing days, we returned to reset some of the ram board to prepare for the movers to reset the furniture!
Our client called one more time to discuss the timeline, care instructions, and review the protective procedures so she understood how to take care of her floors. And immediately she started her call with, “Wendy, MY FLOORS ARE RIDICULOUSLY GORGEOUS! I CAN”T BELIEVE IT, I LOVE THEM! THANK YOU SO MUCH!
She admitted she absolutely will ‘pinky-swear’ to wear good indoor shoes from here forward, but that although she will do it, it is a huge sacrifice. And, she also ‘pinky-swore’ she will become a drill sergeant and get the troops to comply as well!
Yes, there is one happy client who is over the moon thrilled. And for us, that means for us, a refinishing team who is over the moon happy we delivered!
FOOT NOTE: high heel damage can damage floors in just a few hours. We had another customer who hosted their first New Year’s Eve Party after moving into a custom home the builder built for himself, then sold to our discriminating buyer. Four pairs of high heels did $11,000 worth of damage over about 4-5 hours time as the ball dropped and the bubbly abounded (a lesson painfully learned that left this self-admitted OCD kinda gentleman going nuts.)