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emmij

Hardwood floor issues -- questions re: patching

Emmi J
5 years ago

I'm nearing completion of a major home addition. New hardwood floors were installed throughout the new addition, along with re-sanding and finishing the existing floors in the original part of the house.

Upon completion, I found a few issues with the floors that were noticeable from afar -- namely, some dings they'd patched but still stand out against the dark finish (likely from the other contractors working in the space between the time the floors were installed and first two coats and them coming back to do the last coat - appears some debris got underneath the covers they'd laid to protect the floors); several decent-sized "smudges" that apparently were beneath the finish; and a couple bits of paint that they'd missed when doing the final cleanup. All of these were in highly visible areas, otherwise, I'd have just let them go.

The hardwood floor rep said the only way to fix the dings is to re-sand (which I'd prefer not to do if possible), but that the "smudges" and paint can be remedied by re-buffing and doing an extra coat in affected rooms. He offered as a "compromise" to re-buff and re-coat the family/room living room, which they did. And it looks good.

They were then going to re-coat just the hallways where the paint spots were, last Friday before Memorial Day. I'd asked for them to let me know when they were coming so that I could be there, but when I returned home, they'd already been there.

To my surprise, rather than re-coating an entire area as planned, they'd done patches of a couple boards here and there in several rooms in the house -- including in a highly visible spot in the newly-recoated kitchen/family room! The patches are visible, in some cases more than others.

And to back up, the hardwood floor business owner had told me patching a board or two was a concern -- likely to stand out -- which is why he hadn't recommended doing the patch in the first place. I'm still trying to find out why his team went ahead and did the patches instead of the plan he and I'd discussed.

It's a huge bummer to have all these patches in brand-new hardwood floors before we've even spent a single day living int hem.

My question to the group is:

- What is the best way to fix this? Can the affected rooms be re-buffed and re-coated? Would that even out the patch to blend in with the rest of the floors or will the patched area still stand out as it will still have an extra coat on it?

- If they end up doing another extra coat on the kitchen/family room, that room would have 5 coats vs. the 3 in the hallway/living room that butt up against it. I'm guessing that wouldn't be a huge issue, given that there is a delineation between the rooms, even though they are open to one another.

Any suggestions/advice you can give are appreciated!

Comments (30)

  • gregmills_gw
    5 years ago

    So they replaced some boards and then managed to stain and put 3 coats of finish all in the time you werent there? thats suspect.

    It sounds like they did a poor job blending the stain on the patches.

    Why his team did that when he said it would be iffy, is confusing too, obviously a miscommunication. It can still be remedied though. with out pictures i can only guess as what can be done.

    My guess is the patches dont have the full amount of finish on them. You could try to have another coat applied to the patches and that might help

    or tinting the patching, but without pictures its speculation on my end.

    basically can i see some pictures?

    Emmi J thanked gregmills_gw
  • Emmi J
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    Thanks for your reply. I'll grab some photos when I'm over there today.

    To clarify, there were 2 coats of finish done right after the floors were sanded a couple months ago. They were then covered while other contractors finished their work.

    The 3rd (and supposed to be final) coat was applied a couple of weeks ago. This is when I saw the issues and we began to address them.

    The kitchen/family room was given a 4th coat to try to address the issues.

    The patches were done two days ago and that is what I'm trying to resolve now.

    In one case, the patches have a higher sheen than the rest of the floor, and in some of the others, they appear more matte than the rest of the floor -- despite now having an extra coat of finish vs. the rest.

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  • gregmills_gw
    5 years ago

    Ok, is the sheen the issue? or is it the color? and thanks in advance for getting pics


    Emmi J thanked gregmills_gw
  • Emmi J
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    the issue is mostly the sheen... will see if I can capture that in pix

  • gregmills_gw
    5 years ago

    sheen issues are mostly fixed with another coat of finish in the desired sheen level (gloss, semi glass or satin or matte)

    if the sheen difference isnt as dramatic most of the time, just general foot traffic can cause the sheens to blend better so its not as noticeable. but lets wait until the pictures before i go on speculating any more.

  • Emmi J
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    Here are photos. Some are more obvious than others. Regardless, I guess I'm just floored (no pun intended) that this would be acceptable for brand-new floors!

    Appreciate your thoughts.

  • gregmills_gw
    5 years ago

    to me it looks too dull...I suggest two things you could do.

    did your floors get a semi gloss? or a satin?

    You could have them come out and coat the patches again

    or you could wait a few months, the normal foot traffic can generally blend the two sheens together or at the minimal keep it from sticking out as obvious as the pics show.

    Emmi J thanked gregmills_gw
  • Emmi J
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    Thank you. I think it's a satin though to be honest, I didn't specify the finish... just chose the color.

    Is re-buffing and re-coating the whole rooms the best option? Or are there downsides to that at this point (beyond the time and inconvenience -- though at this point more mine as I have not moved most of my furniture back in given the issues with the floors).

  • PRO
    G & S Floor Service
    5 years ago

    A lot of things that can cause the mismatch: different batch of poly, different brand, cross contaminated sheen, poly not stirred well enough, wrong sheen or different sanding process. At this point, they should just do a custom mix on a sample before continuing with a touch up. Or just bite the bullet and re-coat the entire floor.


    Emmi J thanked G & S Floor Service
  • gregmills_gw
    5 years ago

    I would honestly just try re coating the patches, and then let that be exposed to foot traffic for a bit, i bet in time you will begin to notice it less and less.


    Emmi J thanked gregmills_gw
  • Emmi J
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    Thank you for your responses.

    Gregmills_gw, is the main reason you would just try re-coating is going for the simplest solution?

    I'm just wondering if there are downsides to re-coating the affected rooms, other than the inconvenience and extra work involved.

    You are probably right that over time, I'll notice this less and less, though I guess I would be more inclined to "live with it" if this weren't a major expense for me (not to mention I'm down to my last nerve with all of the issues I've already "let go" with this project given errors).

  • veggiegardnr
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I suspect that the sanding done on the patches is not the exact same as was done on the rest of the floor. Any differences in sanding (even when sanding is done with the same sandpaper as was used on the rest of the floor, but a different sanding pattern or different equipment is used) can lead to a difference in sheen (and differences in how stain is taken up, too). I suspect they hand sanded those patches vs they used machines to sand the rest of your floor. I don't know if time and foot traffic will fix this or not.

    Emmi J thanked veggiegardnr
  • Emmi J
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    Veggiegardnr, thank you for your response.

    If the issue is sanding, do you think a rebuff and re-coat of the whole room would fix it -- or would re-sanding be necessary?

  • veggiegardnr
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I just don't know... I know resanding would definitely fix the problem, but then, the negative to that is that it takes off a bit of wood, and there's only so much wood there for future resands. I don't know if screening and then another coat of finish would fix it--probably your floor guy (the one who originally told you patches would stand out) would be the one who would know. I have two patched boards on my hardwood floors and they stand out just like yours...slightly different sheen. All I know is that is the exact same stain, finish and sandpaper sequence (even the same sandpaper) were used on those two boards as the rest of my floor. The only difference is that those two boards were sanded by hand. That was 6 months ago and the sheen is still different, so time and foot traffic doesn't seem to be helping my two boards. I believe that I probably have a different finish on my floors than you have on yours, so I don't know how things work with your finish. My two boards don't really bother me. I'm going to put a rug over them, because they are in an area that actually needs a rug. But, I can totally understand how the multiple patches, with a different sheen than the rest of your brand new floors, would not make you happy. I wouldn't be happy about it, either. I think your floor people should do whatever they need to do to fix the problem. Wish I could be more help than that.

    Emmi J thanked veggiegardnr
  • gregmills_gw
    5 years ago

    Sanding is not going to cause sheen issues. Sheen issues are strictly a finish issue.

    I can sand two boards differently and apply the same finish to both and the sheen will be the same, if sanding was an issue then the color would be affected.

    I believe just recoating the PATCHES is the simplest solution. I dont think the rest of the floor needs another coat of finish. the patches have a sheen problem and i think another coat if a different gloss level would fix the problem. and then over time like a few months with normal foot traffic you shouldnt see such a huge difference.

    Of course re-sanding everything would fix things too, but the route im suggesting is the least inconvience to you.

    Emmi J thanked gregmills_gw
  • veggiegardnr
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    There does appear to be a slight color difference as well. Same thing with my floor...the color difference is very minimal, but you can tell a bit of a difference if you really look, and the sheen is the main thing that stands out.

    I'd let them try to recoat the patches and see if it works, especially as it cannot really hurt anything to try this. Maybe a second coat will have enough of a build to fix it, if it is a sanding difference. Or, maybe sanding doesn't matter, so far as sheen, with your particular finish. It definitely matters with mine (hardwax oil that doesn't have much of a build at all). I'm wondering...do the patches have as many coats of finish as the rest of the floor, or only one coat of finish? If one coat, I think this could be a factor, due to a difference in "build." I have a feeling that a higher build would be more smooth, thus light would shine off of it differently. Your floor people can fix this. I wouldn't let them talk me into anything less than completely fixing the issue. If they talk about inconvenience to you...well...they may be more worried about the inconvenience and cost to themselves than about anything else. Let us know what happens.

    Emmi J thanked veggiegardnr
  • Emmi J
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    Thank you both for your additional thoughts -- very much appreciated.

    I believe the patches all should have started with the same # of coats as the surrounding areas. But that was actually one of my concerns -- different #s of coats -- based on my initial discussion with the lead hardwood floor guy about his concerns with patching.

    Obviously, I am anxious to get this done as soon as possible. However, after 6 months living elsewhere while they do this project, I don't want to cut corners now and have it not done right. If patching can work, that is fine, though given multiple conversations with the lead guy saying patching isn't a good option in this case, I don't feel hopeful that will be a good result. (Maybe others are more comfortable/skilled with that, I don't know.)

    If we have to go beyond patching, is re-buffing and re-coating an options vs. re-sanding? Maybe I'm not using the right lingo but just want to make sure I understand, as greggmills_gw mentioned re-sanding in the last post.

    Thanks again!

  • PRO
    G & S Floor Service
    5 years ago

    The easiest way out for the contractor and most convenient way for you. Is for he/she (flooring contractor) mix some poly. A little satin and a little semi, coat a piece of board and dry it off with a heat gun to see if, it is a match. If not, adjust the mix accordingly. It doesn't take that long to see results. Once you have a sheen match, re-coat the repairs.

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  • veggiegardnr
    5 years ago

    "If we have to go beyond patching, is re-buffing and re-coating an options vs. re-sanding? Maybe I'm not using the right lingo but just want to make sure I understand, as greggmills_gw mentioned re-sanding in the last post."

    Unfortunately, I just don't know... What does your lead flooring guy say? It really sounds like he knows what he's talking about. It's strange that he recommended one thing to you, then his guys did something different. Maybe there was some sort of misunderstanding between them? I'd talk to him tomorrow and see what he says.

    Emmi J thanked veggiegardnr
  • jfcwood
    5 years ago

    So is the floor guy ultimately doing all this to fix damage that occurred after he stained and applied two coats?
    I believe that the smallest repair is often the best since it doesn't compound the problem but I've seen poly touchups have different sheens even when using the exact same can. The application method, how the finish is stirred, and possibly temperature/humidity could affect the look. It sounds like a full coat is needed and should fix the issue.

    I hope the floor guy is being paid for all this extra work. It sounds like he's doing all this to fix damage cause by others.

    Emmi J thanked jfcwood
  • Emmi J
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    jfcwood, thank you. That all makes sense.

    Am I correct in assuming a full coat can just be done to the affected (patched) rooms and not the whole house? All the hardwood flows throughout the house (and some rooms are open to one another) but I would hope we can find good transition points between the re-coat rooms and the others.

    Indeed, some of the spots the hardwood floor guy is trying to fix were due to damage between the first 2 coats and 3rd coat. They'd gotten a lot of the paint up but missed a few spots. And they'd tried to address the dings but they really stood out against the dark stain after they used patch on them.

    There were also a number of what looked like smudges in the finish, but were actually underneath the surface, the guy said. I'm unclear whether those were the result of something that someone else did or an issue with the application of the last coat.

    In any case, I will talk to my GC about how the floor guy is being compensated. Personally I'm used to waiting until the rest of the work is done to do the floors though that's not how the GC wanted to do it.

  • veggiegardnr
    5 years ago

    "I hope the floor guy is being paid for all this extra work. It sounds like he's doing all this to fix damage cause by others."

    Yes. I'm glad you are going to talk to your GC about this.

    Now that I've thought about it, I'm thinking it's pretty likely your floor guy was told to repair your floor in patches. It doesn't sound like that's what he wanted to do. In that case, do you think it was your GC who told him to do this?

    Emmi J thanked veggiegardnr
  • Emmi J
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    Martha, thanks for your input. Sigh, yes, I have already been through a number of these "oops" situations. I do understand people make mistakes but after one after another after another, over many months, my patience and nerves are at their end. It might be different if I were trying to do this on the cheap, but the truth is anything but.

    Veggiegardnr, you raise a good question; however, the patching was done by the floor guys' team members -- unbeknownst to him. It was the result of a miscommunication between the lead (owner) floor guy and his team who went to do the work. The lead guy had wanted to (and told me they were doing) re-coat a whole area so that it wouldn't be visible, but the team went ahead and did patches. That's how we ended up in this latest spot.

  • Emmi J
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    UPDATE: I've just met with my GC and the lead floor guy (owner). The lead floor guy admits the patches were not what he directed, but his guys thought they were being helpful by patching.

    Both GC and floor guy agree the patches are visible. They said there are 3 possible courses:

    1.) Try to touch up the patches to get a better match of the sheen. Risk is that it compounds the existing problem that they don't fully blend in with the rest. The floor guy also noted that each time they sand a piece, the grain on the wood is affected/sanded down, so that is not ideal.

    2.) Let the patches go for now. The floor guy said in his experience, the finish actually gets a bit shinier over time -- and it's possible the patches would shine up a bit to better blend with the rest of the floors. My GC offered that if I go with this option, we could hold out $$$ and if in 6 months or so, I still see the patches, they would come back and fix (either patch and/or re-coat the whole area).

    Does anyone have thoughts on this idea that the floors will gain in shine over time?

    Obvious downside to this is that it's a bigger hassle to move everything out in 6 months, if that becomes necessary. Also a bummer (for me) to not start out with a fresh floor as I would have expected from this major addition.

    3.) Go ahead and re-coat the affected rooms now. Plus is this gets done and over with, fresh start and no need to move things later. Downside to this, in addition to more time for the floor guys, is always the chance that new issues are introduced in the re-coat. I know it shouldn't be the case but I guess it's always possible.

    Thoughts welcome!


  • Mrs. S
    5 years ago

    The finish gets "shinier over time".... uh, I wouldn't trust that. I'm not an expert, but that doesn't pass my smell test. I would go with number 3 and fix the whole room. Ask the lead guy to meet you at the house when his people start the work, and go over a game plan to make sure all are on the same page. I've learned that it pays to get educated about the procedures the workers are using, the products, methods, and amount of time and visits necessary to finish, and to lay out expectations in writing/emails/texts as much as possible, and that way everyone's expectations are managed effectively.

    Only other advice I can offer is to get a second opinion, but that is what you are doing here on this board.

    Emmi J thanked Mrs. S
  • PRO
    Anglophilia
    5 years ago

    It does NOT get shinier over time - it actually dulls!

    Do it over now while things are not in the house. Just bite the bullet and get it done right.

    Emmi J thanked Anglophilia
  • User
    5 years ago

    Floors don't get shinier over time -- they get duller! I remember the time I painted DD's room -- I wanted a good blue and I picked what I thought I wanted. Painted the room and it was baby blue . . . ugh -- not what I wanted at all. So went back to the paint store and they said, well, of course, it isn't as dark as the card in the store. I didn't like that blue and instead of finding another blue decided to do a rosy pink -- so I picked one that if painted would be a couple of shades lighter than the card would be perfect! Well, guess what -- it was DARKER! In fact, it was the shade people call "t***y" pink. Went back to the paint store. THAT clerk told me that paint always dries darker than the chip! I then wallpapered -- I knew what color that would be -- LOL!


    So what I was trying to say -- don't believe everything they say.


    I'm sorry for all of your problems -- it doesn't seem to have been a great experience. Hopefully, you will find the humor in some of the things once everything is done to your satisfaction and you're in!

    Emmi J thanked User
  • jfcwood
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I'd pick #3 but your insight is correct. Any number of things can go wrong with a coat. The closer your floor is to being perfect, the more likely it is to get worse with a recoat. Every time you add a coat, the floor gets smoother and the more you notice imperfections. You can get puddles, drips, holidays, stipple, fisheye, streaks, bugs, hair and more, leading to the need for yet another coat.

    Another ploy would be to determine whether the flaws can be lived with and either ask for a monetary concession or a proposal that would give you a free recoat within the next three to five years. I've done this from my side when something didn't turn out perfect and it was too inconvenient to fix it right away. This is sort of like your option 2 but they would deduct money from what you owe and the proposal would be for that same amount.

    Emmi J thanked jfcwood
  • Emmi J
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    Thank you, everyone, for your thoughts. Funny how you can lure yourself into believing something and yet in black and white, it sounds so fishy! Of course floors get duller over time.

    Martha, that's a good example! And I've been through something similar on the paint job on this project ... though instead of them telling me different things on the color, they were trying to tell me grapefruit peel-like texture was "normal" on the woodwork. Gaaah. Yes, I will look forward to the day I will laugh about this all!

    jfcwood, good insights and also an interesting suggestion worth considering. If the patches were in spots where I could just put a rug down, I might do that! I am ready to be done with this though I can't imagine a more convenient time to fix this than now, before I've fully moved everything back in. Sigh.

    As I write this, I realize how much I don't want to have loose ends on this project hanging out there.