We offer professional cleaning, repair, and refinishing and can restore the look of your hardwood floors
Hardwood floors, when clean and finished the way they were meant to be, set the foundation for a truly stunning, warm and rich environment. But if time and accidents have taken a toll, leaving your once beautiful wood floors, dull, dingy or damaged, we can restore them to like new. We are a certified applicator for Basic Coatings® for wood floors.
Understanding Your Hardwood Floor Refinishing or Repair
Hardwood Floor Refinishing
Most sand jobs take a minimum of three to four days. Stain and finish drying times can extend the process. Dark and pastel stains add time to the job, especially if a water base finish is used. As a homeowner, there are some preparations that can be done to make this whole process move smoothly, and help keep the inconvenience of the home’s upheaval to a minimum.
Dustless sanding/refinishing. We keep our machines serviced so as to keep dust to a minimum. If you do the preparations that we suggest, the inconvenience to you will be minimized.
Power. Our machines require 220 volts of power to run, and not all homes have 220 volt receptacle. Therefore, we run wires from your fuse box or circuit breaker to our machines. This gives us a constant and steady flow of electricity, as well as not having to interrupt electricity in the house.
Stain Colors. We show wood stain colors as soon as we get a small portion of the floor sanded. It is best to have a picture, or sample of the color that you are wanting. If we show more than 2-4 colors in the same range, most people have a difficulty choosing. If you show us an approximate color, we can usually show 3 colors or shades and it will be easier to make a choice.
Sanding. Sanding the floors means that we sand all of the finish and stain off of the existing floor, sand the floor flat, and remove approximately 1/32″ of wood. Most 3/4″ hardwood floors can be sanded 6 times as long as a professional company sands the floor each time needed. Hardwood floors should last 100-150 years, making hardwood floors very long lasting value for the home that can be purchased if cared for by a professional team.
Our sanding process starts with either a drum or belt sander for the middle of the floor, a circular (edger) sander for the edges, hand scrapers for corners, and the final is the finer sanding by a buffer with a screen. We meet or exceed national standards set forth in the guidelines by the National Wood Flooring Association.
Drum or Belt Sanders. These are sanders that take 220 volts of power. They sand the bulk of the floor. They can use various grits of sand paper to achieve the desired results of every type of wood. We usually start sanding the floor with 16, 20, 36, 40, or 50 grit sand papers, depending upon the type of wood or top finish that we are sanding. A typical red oak floor starts with 36 grit paper, then, we use finer paper until we reach 100 grit for the final sanding. All the first cut on the floor is what we refer to as the “rough cut”. The rough cut must be done with the drum or belt before the edger can finish the edges. Once the edges are done and fined off, the drum or belt can do it’s final sanding. The main goal of these machines is to sand the old finish off and leave the floor flat.
Edger or Circular Sander. The edger sands all of the edges and places where a drum or belt cannot fit into. The edging is done much like the drum or belt as far as the paper is concerned. It is not unusual to have the ability to use only 100 grit on the edges. Once the edging is done and the drum and belt has finished, scraping and screening is next.
Scraping and Screening. Scraping is done by hand. We use a very sharp paint scraper to plane the wood on the edges of the floor, corners, under cabinets, and stair treads. Scraping must be done before the screening process. Screening is performed with a buffer floor machine, which has either a 100, 120, or 150 grit screen. This screen is just like a dry wall sanding screen, in which, this process smoothes out the floor evenly to blend all of the other previous processes. Screening the floor is also the process that is done in between each coat of finish. After all of this, the floor is finished and needs to be vaccumed. When we vaccum, we try to clean up as much dust as we can from counters, cabinets, shelves, sills, base boards, base shoe, and vents. Not only does this help the potential of dust blowing on to a freshly stained or coated floor, but also helps with the clean up.
Staining or Coating. Stain is an oil based product that gives a seal and color to the floor. Stain is applied by hand with a trim brush around the edges and cotton cloths on the rest of the floor. Stain must be immediately wiped off after application and, in most cases, steel wool is used to pick up excess stain and smooth out the floor. When stain or finish is applied, the wood grain is raised and becomes rough. Steel wool knocks the grain back down, smoothes, and helps seal the floor.
In the case of finish being applied, steel wool is not used, but the screening process between coats serves the same purpose. The floor must be screened (abraded) in between coats of finish, because the first coat raises the grain and the grain must be knocked down smooth. Once the finish is no longer raising the grain, the floor needs to be abraded to give some teeth for subsequent to adhere to.
The Finished Floor
Separations in the floor (gaps) are not uncommon. Gaps are mainly a seasonal condition. The wood expands in the more humid months and helps close gaps in the wood. In dryer months, as in the winter, gaps become obvious because the wood contracts with lack of moisture (humidity). These types of gaps are considered normal. Filling these gaps is not recommended, because with expansion and contraction of the wood, filler will pop out and sometimes unevenly. This makes the floor look worse than the original gap, being filled in parts and unfilled in other. As far as gaps are concerned, every floor and home is different and each floor can react differently even if the floor is on the same level as another in the home. One can have larger gaps as much as maybe an eighth to a quarter inch, while the other floor has virtually no gaps at all.
Finished floors in an uncontrolled environment may have small dust particles, animal, or human hair in the finish even after the final coat. Obviously, we try to produce the perfect floor with no imperfections, but, if you do happen to see particles or a hair in the finish, you can use a fingernail to remove these. These should not be widespread across the entire floor, but it can occur in a small amount. Small imperfections in high traffic areas will wear down under normal traffic.
Wood is a natural product and has imperfections at times. This is an aspect of the beauty and character of hardwood and should be enjoyed.
Hardwood Floor Repairs
We can do a variety of repairs. Generally, these include board replacement and refinishing the floor in which the boards have been replaced. Generally, we will not replace boards unless we are refinishing the floor, in which the boards are being replaced. The reason for this is that the board must be sanded flat with the rest of the floor and we can’t sand and finish a section of flooring and get the stain and finish to match exactly. We replace the boards in the existing floors on a regular basis; however floors must be fully re-sanded and refinished to guarantee an exact match.
When refinishing floors, we must sand and finish from wall to wall. We can generally match any stain fairly closely. However, if you are not planning on refinishing your entire floor, you need to expect some color and sheen difference. We can only stop sanding in doorways that run parallel to the seam of the boards. The doorway runs perpendicular to the seam of a board; we must either continue the refinishing to the next room or install a mini threshold to cover the line where we stop sanding.
The most common types of repairs we do consist scratches, dents, gouges, water damage, chemical/fire (sparks) burns, pet stains, plant stains, holes from preexisting cable or wire installations are all very common repairs. All of these repairs repairs require the sanding and finishing of the whole floor, not just sections. Sections of floor cannot be matched up or blended into existing areas without doing the whole floor.
Repairs can be done in almost any situation. However, the extent of the repair depends on various factors. At Carter’s Floor and Surface Care, we are limited to hardwood flooring and refinishing repairs, as well as small sub-floor repairs. If there are sub-floor repairs we don’t feel comfortable addressing, we will let you know and you may need to call a carpenter. We have repaired and refinished floors that are over 100 years old and made them look close to new. We most certainly can help with your hardwood needs!
Repairs on finished floors are very difficult. Deep scratches and dents usually require entire floor sanding to repair the damage. Occasionally, light scratches can be touched up, but they will usually not look perfect. Floor finishes begin to change color after 6 months, which makes the repair process more costly and extensive.
Scratches, Dents, and Gouges
Dents, gouges, and scratches that are less than 1/8 inch deep can usually be repaired by sanding and refinishing. If any of these are deeper than this, the board/s will have to be replaced and the whole floor sanded and finished.
Chemical/Fire (sparks) Burns, Pet Stains, and Plant Stains
These types of occurrences can be sanded and finished unless they are too deep into the wood. All of these have the potential to have boards replace, sanded, and finished. Once again, anytime we mention sanding and finishing, it requires the whole floor, not just a section where the damage has occured.
Holes in the Floor
Nail holes, and staple holes caused from carpet installation, can be filled, sanded and finished. This is the true use of wood filler. Holes in the floor resulting from cable or speaker wire installation may be able to be filled also; however most require board replacement, sanding, and finishing.
Water damage can occur from many differenct sources. Refrigerators, dishwashers, toilets, water damming from rooftops, pipes leaking, and over watering of plants, are all common problems. When the damage occurs:
- First, mop up all the water in sight. Find the source of water and repair immediately.
- Second, place a fan blowing across the affected area.
- Third, place a dehumidifier on the affected area, and if you have a humidifier on the furnace, shut it off.
If you do all of these things immediately after water incident, it is possible that the damage will be minimal and may not even require that anything be done. The things that you may see on your floor could be finish peeling or flaking off the boards, discoloration of the wood, boards cupping (warping), or gaps created when the wood is drying out. If you experience cupping immediately, do not get alarmed and have someone or yourself remove the wood. Some amount of cupping occurs in all water damage cases. Even after you have done all of the above, a dehumidifier can usually get the floor’s moisture content to a 12% level. After this level is reached, the floor has to dry on its own. Here in the Tampa area 6-8% is normal for most homes. A 6% moisture content must be reached and maintained for at least 4-6 weeks prior to repair. This process can take a considerable amount of time, and each case it may be different lengths of time.
If you are unfortunate, and were unable to control the damage, most floors only need to be sanded and finished, cupping and peeling finish included. Board replacement is necessary if the boards are discolored and the discoloration cannot be removed by sanding. Gapping caused by water damage can only be repaired by replacing wood where the gaps begin to the nearest wall line. Some gaps may be able to be filled depending on the severity of the damage.
As mentioned above, moisture content is key to a successful repair with no further repercussions. If a floor is repaired before the moisture content is corrected, two things may occur. First, if a floor is sanded too soon, the floor can recup or the floor may crown. These may not occur for as much as 3-4 months. Second, if board replacement is necessary and the moisture is too high, the moisture will transfer and put the floor back into the same problems. Many people, for many apparent reasons, want their floor fixed quickly. A common question asked is, “Why can’t you remove the wood, let it dry out and sand and finish”? The answer is that we can, but the homeowner may have to live the the floor torn up for several weeks while drying to a 6% moisture level, and then wait 4-6 weeks at the level before wood can be reinstalled, sanded and finished.