Too many times we come upon homeowners who try to lower the cost of refinishing hardwood floors by hiring cheap contractors. They do not check their credentials, trust that “cheap” means “good”, and are left with horrendous “refinished” floors, not to mention a serious hole in their pockets.
Such stories are not rare and we have tirelessly tried to warn homeowners about the dangers of hiring low-cost contractors, instead of making experience and professionalism the main criteria of selection. Recently, we worked on another project done by such a contractor, trying to fix floors freshly “redone”. This made us think that a short refresher on the dangers of cheap hardwood flooring restoration is tall order, so here we are.
But first, let’s look at a few before and after images. A client asked us to help fix a badly “refinished” floor – and we did. Here is how it went.
Blotchy stain turned into a beautiful, uniform layer of color.
But It’s Not Brain Surgery. How Can It Go Wrong?
Even if we believe the images above speak for themselves, we can point to a few possible problems when it comes to restoring your wood floors. We need more than one skinny page to line up all the pitfalls of bad hardwood floor refinishing services, but let’s just scratch the surface (so to speak). For example, wrong tools or a bad technique can result in visible and unsightly lap lines, where your sealer coat is uneven. Covering the freshly stained floor with sealer that is not meant to be applied over stain may result in a chipping top coat. Not controlling the sun spots on the floor may cause the finish to form bubbles. We could go on and on, but we think you get the idea.
So What’s the Problem with Bad Contractors?
We are not part of that category, but we can guess. First, a good wood floor refinishing job takes time, but low-cost contractors usually rush through their projects. That is how you can explain, for instance, the finish chipping off your floor, because the stain underneath did not have enough time to dry; or why the sealers adheres in a funny, uneven way to the floor because the contractors did not do a test area before.
Second, knowledge is important. There is a whole deal of information going into all stages of a hardwood flooring restoration project. For instance, knowing how to recognize and work with a floor tainted by waxes and cleaners, when to use a roller and when a T-bar, or how to match compatible products, so that you do not have any surprises.
Finally, we would not be completely honest if we did not acknowledge that every professional craftsman has an unhappy story to tell. But an experienced contractor understands the cause of every failure and knows how to fix it. Remember, experience is key. Streaks, blisters or surface beads – whatever it is, quality wood floor refinishing contractors are all too familiar with these problems and know how to prevent and fix them.
By now, we think it is obvious that you should go with a reputable company and experienced wood craftsmen. Even if their services are more expensive, you will get the right results, paired with the peace of mind that things are under control.
But What If the Budget Is Limited?
So you understand you should work with a reputable wood floor restoration company, but hiring one is still beyond your budget. What can you do?
We have talked before about how to lower the cost of restoring your floors. First, consult with a good, experienced company. You may find that what seems to be a sanding and refinishing job is actually an easier and much cheaper buff-and-coat project. Second, if most of your floors are in good shape and only a few traffic areas are problematic, it is possible to localize the job and avoid refinishing the whole floor. Finally, a company that understands your need to cut the cost of refinishing hardwood floors can help you do part of the job yourself and educate you on the process, stepping in only when experience (and professional tools) is a must.
However, the common element in all these happy scenarios is the professional hardwood wood floor restoration company, and not the cheap contractor. After all, as you can guess from our images above, cheap contractors are not at all cheap. Considering the fact that you have to hire another company to fix what they do wrong, they are in fact your most expensive option.