Hardwood Floor Problems That Require A Pro:
- Does the floor look dull, lack finish, dingy, smeary or cloudy?
- Are there patches of lighter wood appearing either under area rugs, or where they once were? Or patches in front of windows that experience strong or direct sun?
- Do your traffic lanes seem dull, worn or thin? Is there blackness in the grain where the finish has worn off?
- Where the raw wood is exposed (i.e. points of entry) can you see evidence of moisture from the outside grounds?
- Do you have small patches of finish that has peeled, like a sunburn?
- Do you see scratches from bar stools, chairs, or from dragging furniture across the hardwood?
- Do you have splinters, holes, soft mushy damaged areas or “sponge-like” or sink when you stand on them?
- Do you know if you have had bug infestation that has burrowed in the wood causing an appearance change?
- Does your nail, running across the scratch “stop” and get stuck in the scratch?
- Are there indentations or “divots” where the wood has depressed as a result of something being drug across it?
- Does the hardwood show pet nail scratch damage, either larger scratches from bigger pets or finite scratches from smaller pets (depressions but not through the finish)?
- Do you see light green, yellow or dark marks (dark explained below)?
- Do you have white, cloudy or black areas where water sources can affect the wood (i.e. dishwashers, sinks, bathrooms, near windows, doors)?
- Are there round black pet spots under area rugs or black spots where house plants are located?
- Have you had water damage?
- are the boards cupped- a condition where the boards may have swelled, appearing higher in the middle of the board, so your foot trips up as you rub it across the board surfaces (each board in the affected area may do this), where they look swollen and too big for area they are installed in to.
- are the board ends warped, curled or distorted?
- are the boards buckling, and pulling away from the subfloor?
- Is there a definite “smeariness” to the floor, perhaps a sticky residue that is noisy when you walk across the floor with your shoe?
- Are there tiny round divots, the size of a pencil eraser randomly all over the floors, particularly in traffic lanes?
- Do you have a waffle-like spongy residue left from a pad that decomposed under your area rug, black marks near the tack-less strips once a carpet is torn out? Or is the finish once the carpet has been removed appear to be thin, or missing?
Any of those conditions are considered problems, they are damages, residues or oxidation requiring professional attention. While a few of them may be handled by a DIY effort, most need skilled craftsmen with specialized equipment, not even a handyman or general contractor is equipped to do. And to correct most of them be prepared for a sanding & refinishing conversation.
Also be prepared to be informed that a small isolated problem will become a much bigger problem if there are no “natural breaks.” A natural break is a particular board that will mask where you choose to start and stop a partial finished floor. Sometime a board near a bedroom or other door might work. Or where the boards run a different direction works. And other times you can create a break by inserting a flush transition on a 45 or possibly refinishing it to a different color to mask the start and stop location. However, this solution will only work on a limited basis.
Myths To Dispel That Won’t Properly Fix Hardwood Floors
Myth #1- Isn’t There Something You Can Do To Just “Buff It Up A Little Bit”?
No—It depends on the way the floor is finished. The popular top finished floors which have a polyurethane do not improve with a little buffing (as in a paste wax and a buffer.)The polyurethane is a composite finish that seals on top of the hardwood, basically prohibiting anything from penetrating into the grain of the wood. Think of it as a waterproofing of the wood surface. So any penetrating wax like product cannot be buffed in. It just won’t work.
And Yes— Floors that have a penetrating finish, where the finish absorbs in to the grain of the wood can be maintained with corrective buffing procedures. However, floors finished with a penetrating process are rare in this market. Although some super high end installations may be specified for penetrating finished floors, but it is not the norm.
Years ago penetrating finishes were more popular. So the concept of ‘buffing them up a little bit’ is in consumers’ minds as a reasonable thing to ask for. But, it is not.
Myth #2- Can’t You Just Fix Where The Problem is on My Poly-Urethane’ Hardwood Floor
Most likely not. More often than not boards fixed & finished, patches, or areas will look absolutely different from the remainder of the floor. Just like taking the same paint you had left over in the can and painting a patch in the middle of the wall, it doesn’t work.
Wood over time changes color, so the chances of staining it to match are extremely difficult. Any time you spot apply finish it will look different from the surrounding boards.
The correct procedure is to do the spot repairs, then sand the floor down, so it is all uniform, then stain, seal & finish it all together to achieve a continuous uniform finish. An exception to this might be if you have extra boards or other boards (say from in a closet) that you can insert to replace the damaged ones. Hopefully, the damage does not cross diagonally across more than a handful of boards. Also, hopefully, the donor board is close in color and finish appearance that it will blend in and be less noticeable than the damaged boards.
An Exception To Our Rule Of Not Spot Repairing
Once in a while we will agree to do spot repairs. One exception is when the customer has a very very small blemish on the floor that is part of a very large “field.” Case in point—we recently fixed 3 areas where a client’s sectional’s wooden leg scarred the hardwood in each of the contact points. The floor was damaged from the subtle movement as people moved on and off the sofa. With no natural break that would work we agreed to do the spot repair. So the repair was a $300 h instead of $6000. (This client was listing her home and it just was not a consideration to do the whole first floor of the home for such a small isolated area.
If this is your situation we may agree to look at it, but it is a case by case basis!