Hardwood floor “Touch-up” vs. Refinishing

Being in the furniture industry for over 30 years, I have seen my share of floor damage. I’ve seen scuffs and scratches on new floors, as well as old floors that tons of wear. One thing has always remained the same… it always turns into a big deal.
Many times, a scratch will occur during the delivery process no matter how careful the delivery team tries to be. Is it the end of the world? Of course not, but try telling that to a homeowner who has just spent thousands of dollars on the flooring of their new home. Sometimes when a scratch occurs in an older home, someone sees this as an opportunity to get their old worn floors refinished by the company who caused some further damage due to their “negligence.” Nevertheless, there is a proper and correct way to handle these situations that work for both parties.
Gone are the days of  “no job too small”
When the customer calls into the Customer Service Center or dispatcher about a property claim, the first cog of a complicated machine of documentation and resolution begins to turn. It can be a long, drawn out nightmare for the homeowner in many cases. It can be the same for a delivery company as well. Is there a way to simply things?
In today’s world of construction related jobs, it can be difficult to get a company to come to a home for small jobs. Gone are the days of the handyman who is brave enough to place the banner on his truck that says,”No job too small.” This is one reason why a 6 inch scratch can ultimately be a reason to refinish 1000 square feet of flooring.
Flooring companies do not perform touch ups, or it’s just that I have yet to find one that does. Maybe it’s because they don’t have someone with the skill to do this, or perhaps there is not enough money in touch-ups to make it worthwhile for the average flooring company. Whatever the case, it is actually possible to perform a permanent touch up to a significant scratch on a hardwood floor no matter where the damage is, and the results can be dramatic.
Recently, I was sent to evaluate some floor damages from deliveries. Each case had “cross-grain” scratches that went deep into the finish. One floor was new and basically flawless, while the other was used and in very good condition. They were oak, and had a medium brown stain. The darker the floor, the easier it is to cover up a scratch. Here are the examples:

FLOOR ONE

Oak. Brown, Scratches that extend roughly 6 to 7 feet overall

Before:

FLOOR 1

FLOOR 2

After identifying the entire length of scratches, I began to touch them up using filler (epoxy putty, burn in material, and pigment to mix customer color and applied with an artist brush.)

FLOOR 3

Once satisfied with the fill and color, I then tape of each individual board along the joint where they meet against the next board. You cannot really feather polyurethane into a dried coat, so I use steel wool to scuff the top coat- isolate it, and finally use aerosol poly to re-coat. I make sure I have the correct sheen- in this case it is SATIN.

FLOOR 4

Immediately after spraying a medium to heavy top coat of clear, I use a heat gun to flash off the surface. This makes the very top sort of dry which helps to ensure dust and trash do not get caught in the top coat while drying and make it feel rough.
As you can see, the result is almost perfect.

FLOOR TWO

Oak. Brown. Herringbone. Scratch is 15 feet long.

FLOOR 1A

FLOOR 2A

My approach is different here. Due to the herringbone design, every board has a cross-grain scratch. The scratch must be removed as much as possible to minimize its appearance. The only way to do this is to sand it out with 320 or 400 grit sandpaper by hand… keeping the area of sanding very small and local to the scratch. Once sanded, then 0000# steel wool can be used to buff and prep for spraying the clear. I still mix color, and using an extra fine graining brush I apply a little color wherever needed to the scratch itself. Using light and dark strokes wherever needed.

FLOOR 3 A

I tape off each individual board before applying Satin poly via an aerosol (Minwax). The result is nearly perfect, permanent, and only takes a few hours with little or no cleanup. It was also right in front of a large door where there is a lot of light.
The cost of refinishing this floor would have been around $8000 since it led into a hallway with a bedroom.
Of course, each situation is different. Using proven techniques from furniture repair, a floor can be treated much the same. Care has to be taken, but the results can be rewarding. Please email me with questions, or send some pictures to get a free estimate on a floor repair. You can schedule a visit by clicking here.
Geoff.

 

 

 

 

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