It comes down to you get what you pay for. Some refinishing bids are cheap, others more expensive… Why is this? Choosing a hardwood floor refinishing company can be a dicey process. Some guys will provide an estimate that is half the cost, while others will provide a comprehensive estimate for a thorough job. Frankly, a professional job that will yield superior results will take extra time. Here are some pitfalls that the cheap guys do to do inferior work:

  • The cheap guys usually don’t invest in dustless sanding technology (which costs extra).
  • Little to no effort will be given to contain the work area with plastic walls, protect your home and décor, and be respectful with their equipment in your home
  • They won’t use Hepa filter air scrubbers to collect any airborne dust
  • They may not remove your quarter round trim and doors to closets
  • About half the sanding will be done. Often, they begin with severely aggressive grit, then skip the in between grits. They jump to the end grit. (The NWFA Standards require beginning with a 36 or 50 grit, depending on how thick the finish is, then 36 to 50, or 50 to 80. Next the floor is sanded with a 100 grit, then buffed before staining.)
  • Sub par finishers start with a 24 grit, then skip all the in between grits and go to an 80 grit, buff and done—so you don’t get a flat, smooth surface; it will be rougher
  • They may lack the most critical skill of how to gently glide the drum sander in a constant motion, so you are left with divots and dips either in isolated areas, or as a divot consistently in a line. This task should only be done by professionals who do it often, otherwise you will have obvious damage and unevenness to the floor.
  • They make take shortcuts with the edge sanding, so the stain will be a different color than in the middle of the floor
  • The corners may lack the appropriate sanding
  • They don’t invest in a “finish sander,” such as a Trio Sander, that will produce a superior result in the sanding, taking the floor to furniture and cabinetry grade sanding, instead of the lesser grade “floor standard grade of sanding.”
  • All in all the floors will be rough, not smooth and flat, like a baby’s cheeks.
  • The sawdust and sanding material collected from the machines may not be cared for properly and could ignite. Bags of the sawdust with the finish and poly they remove from your home can catch fire if not stored properly, particularly during the summer months
  • They typically don’t “water pop” the floor, which is a spray of water that reveals inconsistencies in the sanding, giving the tech time to fix them before the stain goes on.
  • They may not cover bright windows so when the sun beats down thru the glass those areas dry faster and will look different than the rest of the room. For instance, often swirl marks are not visible to the naked eye, but once the stain goes on they are visible plain as day, when its mostly too late to fix it. They are a classic example of shoddy work and will be more easily seen if you choose a darker stain.
  • They may not vacuum well, or “tack” the floor to remove excess sanding dust before the finish coats. If they don’t, you may see gritty particles, hairs and “junk in the finish”
  • Careful attention may not be given to applying the finish coats. It is a careful task. When not done with finesse, care and concern for proper execution you may see heavy drips, or even waves that cannot be connected.
  • They often will “cut” the finish coats with paint thinner to spread the finish product further. Your floors won’t get the proper protection. You will pay less, but you get a floor refinishing that will not perform and endure well moving forward.
  • And sometimes they will rush the finish that will yield white, cloudy patches, indicating the floor was not dry enough for the next coat

In the end, not having an understanding of the differences between a less than competent (cheap) company vs a quality service, can leave you at a loss to decipher the difference in one estimate compared to another. It is suggested that ahead of choosing who to use that you consider what is important to you. After all, you don’t want to have to pay once, then pay again, or be left with an expensive bill for poor workmanship on your floors. All in all, quality results come down to the utilizing a company that has invested in superior equipment with dustless technology. It comes down to your service provider protecting and preserving your home and décor in the preparation phase. It comes down to them containing the workspace, being neat and organized and constantly cleaning up of the area while the work is being done. The difference is in the care and concern of execution of every task being done thoroughly and properly. And it matters that the refinishers have a close eye on the results of the sanding, ahead of the stain application. Then it matters how the refinisher thoroughly cleans all the dust and debris up, before he lays his coats. Next it is important that the same hand application is does to achieve a uniform stain process. And it certainly matters how the stain is applied, how the seal and finish coats. A careless eye overlooking every detail will assure you get a less than professional result.