Monday, July 29, 2013

Finish Flaws: Avoid Common Wood Floor Finish Failures

This article was originally published in Hardwood Floors.

It's crucial to be confident in understanding what the realistic expectations are for a site-finish wood floor and translate that confidence to your customer. Have you ever had a customer tell you there’s a problem and you need to come see it at a certain time of day when the sun hits it from a certain angle with your head cocked to one side just right? Per our industry standards, this perceived “problem” that needs to be viewed under specific conditions may not necessarily be a problem at all. It’s unrealistic to think a site-finished floor will end up looking like furniture or cabinets. It’s also unrealistic to think the finish on furniture or cabinets will perform the same as wood floor finishes. We don’t walk on furniture and we don’t (usually) eat on our wood floors. These finishes are manufactured to perform for different purposes and are applied using different methods; therefore the final results for wood floor coatings are completely different from cabinets or furniture.

When assessing wood floor finish issues, the standard is to evaluate the floor under these conditions:
  • The floor should be observed from a standing position on the floor being assessed.
  • The evaluation must be conducted with ambient lighting, meaning the general illumination present in the room. As contractors we need to take into account what the lighting situation is specific to the job we’re on, whether that includes a big window or a row of can lights, and adjust our methods accordingly. 
  • Glare from direct light sources must not be used during evaluation. You can’t introduce new lighting sources or wait until a certain time of the day to be able to evaluate the problem. 
Before you start the job, paint a picture for the customers of what to expect during the project and, more importantly, when the job is done. This opening conversation with your customer is extremely important and will ultimately affect how your entire job will flow. They need to know ahead of time that wood floor finish is designed to be walked on and that it will not look or perform like their kitchen table. Once your customer understands the complexity of applying finish in an uncontrolled environment and the potential unexpected pitfalls we can endure at the time of application or during dry times, they will better accept minor inconsistencies in the finished product.

Read the rest of the article here to learn about common problems and how to fix them.

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