Bad Sanding And Poor Wood Stain Results
You hire a rookie floor restoration contractor, attracted to the services by the pricing which is half what is in the market. Sounds like a good deal, and you get to save money – or so it would seem. The contractor comes in, sands, stains and finishes the wood floor, perhaps with an oil-based polyurethane product. You pay for the services, and the contractor goes on his way, after telling you to wait for around 48 hours for the floor to dry.
Over the course of the two days, you notice several swirl marks forming all over the floor. You assume that it’s due to the finish coats settling and curing, but the swirl marks only get highlighted further as the hours progress. The wood stain at the edges of the room also looks to be lighter compared to the rest of the floor. What went wrong?
Breaking Down The Process
It looks straightforward. The contractor followed a grit sequence – say from 40 to 100, finishing off with the hard-plate. For the edges, a 100-grit sander paper was used with the edger as well. However, for the edger, a maroon pad was employed in order to reduce edger marks.
After the sanding, the floor was stained with the oil-based formulation. The polyurethane finish coats followed, allowing each coat to dry overnight before applying the next one.
So, what caused the swirl marks and the lighter edges?
- Picture framing
The lighter edges, also referred to as “picture framing”, is due to using different sanding techniques when working on the edges and the rest of the floor. But didn’t they use the same 100-grit? Well, the approach was different. While the rest of the flooring was worked on with the hard-plate, the final sanding with the edger used the maroon pad to soften the surface, which in effect makes the edger sand like 120-grit. This smoothening process ends up closing the grain, which means that less wood stain will be absorbed by the edges compared to the rest of the flooring.
- Swirl marks
This can be caused by different issues. For instance, the contractor may have also chosen to hard-plate in order to minimise shelling out of the spring growth that is seen in wood species like red oak. The marks, in this case, are caused by the scratches left behind by the 100-grit paper.
Other common causes for swirls on the floor are failing to follow the grit sequence. For instance, you cannot skip from 40 to 100-grit, or stop midway at 60 grit then continue with the staining. Some contractors look to save time by skipping grit levels, and this is also a common blunder during the DIY jobs. When the surface has not been properly smoothened out, the wood stain and finishes applied with make the imperfections to become more prominent.
Fixing Ruined Floor Finishes
You didn’t get the results you desire, so the next logical step is to look for a remedy. This depends on the stage that the floor refinishing is in. In this example, the process was already completed, so it can only be fixed with a total resanding of the floor. Yes, unfortunately, the whole process needs to be started from scratch, which ends up costing you far much more. Such results are why it is advised that you steer clear of contractors offering the floor sanding services at unbelievable low rates.
If the imperfections had been noted before the sealer coats were applied, then light sanding could have been carried out, following the direction of the grain. However, this requires quite some skill as it is a tricky balancing act where you want to rectify the issue right in the middle of the staining process.
This is one of those home renovation projects where there is lots of room for mistakes. Other common blunders made include:
- Failing to prep the surface
You just can’t crank up the sander and start moving it over the floor surface. A slight mistake like forgetting to drive those exposed nails into the floor can wreak havoc. Here, the sanding belt passing over the section will get damaged by the nail head due to the high forces that are involved in the process.
This can result from different issues. Take sanding too slowly for instance. Moving the sander slowly across the surface causes it to grind away much more of the material that is desired. There are also those who dwell on one spot for longer than is necessary, causing a depression to be dug into the surface. Oversanding is a problem because it reduces the wear layer of the wood floor, in turn reducing the number of times the one can have the floor sanded and refinished in future. Remember that the goal of the sanding is to remove the current coats, plus as little of the wood tissue as possible to make the surface ready for new coats that are to be applied.
On the other hand, moving the sander over the floor too fast means that there won’t be sufficient time for the old coats to be completely sanded away. As such, patches of the old finish coats remain. When new treatment coats are applied, they will bond differently to these sections compared to the rest of the bare wood. The resultant finish will not only be unsightly, but it will also be weaker than the rest of the treated floor. Here, one can only redo the task, which will no doubt be more costly.
You don’t want to find yourself dealing with these issues. Avoid the hassle and frustrations by simply getting a professional to carry out the floor sanding. Here, you want a contractor who is duly licensed, insured, fully-equipped and with an experienced crew. The floor sanding company should also have a track record of satisfied clients whose reviews and testimonials you can look up. That way, you can rest assured that your property will be in safe hands.