My Work Process When Installing and Refinshing Hardwood Floors:
I strive to make my average job better than most other companies best work. I do this by not only enjoying my work, but by trying harder too. By taking my time at the start of the installation or repairs it allows me to produce a better floor. It's simple, the better the start, the better the end results can be. Steps as simple as preparing the floor before installation of the new wood. Removing all staples and nails from old carpets or vinyl tiles, sweeping and vacuuming . Trowel filling the entire floor after installation. Using the correct glues for nosing to stairs and on the final rows of wood strips, these small steps all make a difference.
During the sanding process I go a step or two beyond what most other “guys” do. After all the drum sanding and edge work is done correctly (with multiple grits of paper), I do not just buff the floor and toss on some polyurethane. I take the time to go back over all my work with orbital sanders and thoroughly check my work. I do not want to see swirl lines from the edger all along the walls or in areas where the drum sanders are too big to fit. (Places like doorways, between islands and cabinets, closets) I take the time to use palm sanders in these areas and along walls.
For my final sand I do not just rely on a buffer with a normal plate or just one or two passes and say it's ready for the finish. I take the extra time to final sand with a true random orbital sander. My final sanding is done with multiple grits and multiple passes to ensure that the floor is as machine mark free as possible.
I do not apply two coats of finish in one day. I allow the finish to cure over night. This gives the coat the time it needs so it can be buffed between each coat of polyurethane. Most of the new “V.O.C. 350” finishes say that two coats are ample. I'm old school about this, three coats just plain looks better. Nor do I call a coat of stain a coat of finish. If a customer wants their floor stained, I still apply three coats of finish to protect the wood . To make the job look it's best, I fully buff the floors between each coat. That means hand “sanding” under toe-kicks, radiators and the like. Using palm sanders around all edges- places that a buffer won't go. Using the random orbital buffer with very fine screens across the floor. Vacuuming and tacking (dusting) the floors afterward.
Is all this overkill? I guess it depends on who you ask. The vast majority of my work is done through referrals from my customers. not a fancy ad campaign or through a website that refers paying contractors to a potential customer.
Nor do I “sub it out” to who knows who. I do my own work. As I said at the start, I enjoy my job. After twenty-five years, it's nice to be able to say I still get a kick out of doing it. Ask the other guys what they do and their process. The above is just a overview of what I do, not everything that I do...