QUESTIONS... and detailed answers
Renovating your hardwood floor is a big home improvement project, and not one you should take lightly. We want to make sure you are as informed as possible. So here are our answers to some of the most common questions we are asked…
The Biggest Questions
Some subjects need a little more explanation. So we compiled the 3 most important and commonly asked questions into detailed downloadable PDF articles for you…
While we would love to give you an exact answer, in reality, "it depends." A bigger project will take longer than a small one. The average home in Los Angeles may have a living room, dining room, foyer, hallway and three bedrooms that need finishing. Assuming these floors do not require additional repairs, on average it would take about three days.
A larger home or a more complex layout (small hallways, closets, multiple long hallways etc.) will take longer for us to complete. Restoring stairs, removing carpet and taking care of repairs adds time too. Staining or color pre-treatments will also add a day to the job. Most average projects we can complete in three or four days. We will be able to give a much more accurate estimate of time requirements when we see your home in person.
While it is possible to stay home while we are refinishing your floors, there are a few limitations you must be aware of. Most notably, when we begin applying the finish, you'll need to stay off the floors for at least four to eight hours—possibly more depending on what finish system is used. If we are restoring all the floors throughout your home, this could cause access issues to certain areas.
We are very strict about keeping everyone off the floor for 24 hours after the last coat goes down to assure the finish is contaminant-free. This could be a hassle if you are having multiple joining rooms or entry and exit points done. It might be a good idea to make alternative sleeping arrangements that night if this is the case
We can discuss this in more detail and work out a plan when we get together during the in-home estimate.
Yes, we are fully licensed and insured.
It is vital that any floor restoration company you hire has the proper licenses and insurance in place for a number of reasons...
1) If you use an unlicensed contractor and there is mishap or bad quality work performed, your could void your home insurance policy.
2) You could be at fault for any injuries caused on the job site.
3) Because unlicensed contractors cannot obtain permits, the work is not properly inspected and may not be in line with local codes, creating safety issues as well as difficulties whe you go to sell your home.
4) Unlicenced contractors are not liable for any damages to your home or belongings if they have an accident, which leaves you footing the bill for any damage.
You can easily check the status of a Los Angeles hardwood flooring business license on the Contractors State Licensing Board (CSLB) website
Our license number to check is: #966964
We have full Liability Insurance coverage for $2,000,000.00.
We’re also fully up-to-date with our Workers Compensation coverage.
Please make sure whoever you hire is properly insured.
If you have just a few small pieces that need to be moved around, we can help you move them. You will need to find help to move them back once the finish has cured though. Beyond that basic assistance, we do not offer moving services. Our insurance doesn't cover us for damage done if something is damaged or we are injured.
We suggest hiring a professional moving company that does this full time and has all the proper insurances and skills. There are also portable pod type boxes you can hire and use theat we see some of our clients use with good success.
Yes, we can remove carpet, underlay and tack strips and dispose of the old material. Let us know if you need this service and we can add this option to your quote.
The main areas we work in are West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Westwood, Bel Air, Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica, Venice, Studio City, Sherman Oaks, Encino, Malibu, Culver City and the surrounding Los Angeles, California areas.
We know that you are eager to get your life back to normal as soon as you can, so yes, we do work on Saturdays when necessary. Usually Saturday is reserved only for applying the last finish coat if needed. We don’t like to bring out the big equipment and sand on weekends.
We don’t work on Sundays though sorry. This day is for spending time with our families and a much-needed rest. We appreciate your understanding.
If you pop over to the Dustless System page you can read our detailed explanation of how we effectively handle dust containment.
A very important question. We have put together a detailed PDF guide called: The 5 Questions You Should Ask. It will help you with this. You can download it from the link at the top of this page.
Hardwood Floor Installation Questions
Solid wood flooring is, like its name suggests, solid real wood all the way through. Engineered flooring on the other hand, is only real wood on the top layer and the lower part, the base, is plywood.
When it comes to the life of a wood floor and the number of times it can be sanded, it’s easy to assume a solid wood floor will be the best option. A solid wood floor has about 5/16” (8mm) of wear layer before you reach the tongue and groove. They can be sanded up to 5 times over their lifetime. As you can see in the question below, engineered floors wear layer can vary greatly. But there are some engineered floors that have a very similar wear layer to solid wood flooring and can sustain a similar amount of sanding.
As far as usability, engineered flooring is more stable in lower and higher moisture level environments vs solid wood. As such, they can be installed in below grade basements where solid wood can’t. They can also be directly glued to concrete slabs, lowering the floor level due to not needing a plywood sub-floor.
Then you have environmental and resource factors. As solid wood flooring is all wood all the way through, they use far more wood than engineered floors. You can get 3 to 4 times as much flooring from the same log.
98 percent of the new floors we install are high-quality, large wear layer engineered floors. During our in-home estimate I'll be happy to show you samples and comparisons so you can make the best choice for your home.
No. There are a couple of differences. One is the thickness of the top layer of wood. Thickness of the real wood layer vary from 0.6mm to 7mm. The very thin engineered wood layers (from 0.6 to 2mm) are only a rotary peeled or sliced veneer. They can’t be re-sanded, only recoated. Anything over 3mm will be sawn wood and is able to be sanded and refinished down the road. It also looks very similar to solid wood flooring if it’s a quality product.
The other big difference is that good quality engineered flooring has a base made of 7 – 9 multi-directional layers of high quality plywood like birch. Cheaper flooring brands only use 3 layers of cheap quality imported plywood. The more layers and the better quality the ply, the more stable and durable the floor will be.
Especially when it comes to engineered flooring, you get what you pay for. We will be happy to show you samples at various price points and quality when we come over for your in-home estimate.
Engineered flooring is your best choice. Once we prepare and seal the concrete, we can glue the flooring directly to the slab. It is possible to install a solid floor over concrete, but we will need to install a vapor barrier and plywood sub-floor first so we have something to nail the flooring into. This will raise the height of you floor and add a lot more expense to the project.
Either solid or engineered flooring material can be used over a plywood sub-floor that is above grade. It can be installed using proper gluing methods or nailed/stapled in place.
This will depend on a few factors including the type of flooring and the humidity and moisture levels of the room and sub-floor where it is being installed. If there is a large difference in moisture levels, you will have issues with either gapping or cupping of the flooring material down the road. Neither of us want that. We will test the levels of both the sub-floor and new flooring with a moisture meter and that will give us a good indication of how long we need. Usually it will be somewhere between 4 days to 2 weeks.
Repair and Sanding Questions
Possibly. When we sand your floor, we always strive to preserve the top layer as much as we possibly can. By doing this, you will have the option to sand it and refinish it again in the future. If you have very deep scratches and gouges in sections, it’s usually better to replace the damaged boards. That way you’re not excessively grinding down the floor to remove the scratches, thereby removing a lot of your floors life. Your floors will only be able to be sanded and refinished three to five times it their lifetime.
When we come out to give you a quote, we’ll take a look for you and give you our recommendation.
The short answer to this is no for existing floors, and maybe for new installations we do.
Why? It is important to realize that anything made from wood expands and contracts over time. Expansion and contraction occur between seasons as the temperature and humidity changes. This continual movement is what causes the gaps in your floor. In the winter when you turn the heating system on, the humidity in your home drops. Everything made from wood will contract. The opposite is the case in summer. That’s why in certain times of the year, doors in older homes have trouble opening and shutting properly.
If you have your floor filled with putty or filler, then during the movement between seasons, the filler would be ejected. As it comes out in small sections, it looks horrible. There’s also the issue of it getting ground into your finish, causing damage. These two reasons are why we highly recommend you don’t fill the gaps in your floor.
If it’s a new glue-down installation using floor boards between 1 1/2” and 3” wide, we can trowel fill the floor with a special putty to hide the gaps. We can explain more about this procedure while we are doing your free in-home quote.
Yes. There is usually no problem with repairing pet stains and water damage caused by pot plants. In the majority of cases, we may have to replace the boards since this type of damage usually can't be sanded out.
When we come out to inspect your home, we’ll look at all areas needing repairs and include it in the quote we give you. If you have carpet covering damaged areas that we couldn’t see during the in-home estimate, and we find it only after removing the carpet, we'll be in touch immediately to discuss how you would like us to proceed.
In most cases, it is not necessary to remove the baseboards before we sand and refinish. We can sand very close to the edges and then use a hand scraper to remove the rest of the finish. However, if your existing material is damaged, we can assist you with removal and replacement.
Yes, we can install these as part of your project. You can choose either solid wood similar to your flooring or primed white. With primed wood, you will need to arrange for it to be painted after we have finished and the floors are cured. We don’t remove and replace existing baseboards or base shoe.
Yes, we can sand and refinish these areas if you have the appliances removed for us prior to our arrival. Because we aren’t licensed to do plumbing, electrical or gas fitting work, you will need to have these appliances professionally disconnected for us before we arrive and moved out of the way. In the case of large, heavy Sub-Zero refrigerators, it may be better to leave them in place and we can sand and finish around them.
In some cases, yes, engineered hardwood floors can be refinished. It will depend on two things:
A) How is it installed? – Floating floors (floors not glued or nailed down) cannot be sanded for several reasons. However, a floor that has been nailed or glued to a flat sub-floor may be able to be refinished depending on the answer to the next question...
b) What is the wear layer? – In many cases, engineered floors have a very thin top layer of wood. If this top layer is less than 5/16" of an inch, the answer is most likely going to be a no. It’s too big of a risk for us to use our sanding machines on wear layers this thin.
If you aren't sure of how thick your top layer is or how your floor is installed, give us a call and let us come out to inspect it for you.
Staining and Finish/Coating Questions
Good question and one you should ask any floor refinisher you are considering for your project. Years ago, certain types of oil-based finishes had a very strong smell and lots of fumes, it could linger for weeks and make it hard to deal with. There are health concerns too with breathing in some of those fumes for long periods. Thankfully here in California, those types of finishes have been banned for some time.
Our company specializes in three different types of finishes: water-based (single and two component) and hardwax oils.
If someone in your home is sensitive to smells and fumes, or you have kids or pets, then either one of our finish systems will be a good choice. Both water-based and hard wax oil finishes have minimal smell. On a scale of one to five, with five having the least fumes and one having the most, both would be a five (top score) since there is next to no lingering off-gassing issues.
The water-based finishes have a mild smell when it is wet and being applied, but it dissipates quite quickly once dry. As water-based finishes dry, it’s water evaporating—not solvents. The hardwax oil we use, Rubio Monooat, has no VOC's at all. Most people say it has a smell of cooking oil and again it goes away very quickly.
Our PDF guide: Which Finish System Should You Choose? goes deep into the different systems available and includes a chart that ranks the finishes in terms of fumes. It will give you an idea of what type of finish would be best suited to your situation.
There’s a lot to be said about this subject. We put together a detailed guide: Which Finish System Should You Choose? You can download it in the PDF link above. It will answer any questions you have about hardwood floor finishes and help you choose the perfect one for your floor.
Our PDF guide: Staining Hardwood Floors will answer this question in detail for you. It can be downloaded from the link at the top of this page.
End of Project Questions
In a perfect world, you would wait a full week before walking on your floors. We would love to recommend that, but we know that is usually impossible. Below are our dry and cure time recommendations:
High-End Residential Grade Water-Based: Cure time for this system is about 7 days. It will be dry enough to put furniture back carefully after 24 hours. Rugs can be put back after 7 days. You will be able to walk on it in socks after 2 to 3 hours.
Commercial Grade Water-Based: Like the water-based system above, the cure time is a fast 7 days. After only 24 hours you can start to replace your furniture. Rugs can be laid down after 7 days. You will be able to walk on it in socks after 2 to 3 hours.
Hardwax Oil: Like water-based finishes, the cure time for our hardwax oil system is 7 days. Furniture can be carefully placed back after 24 hours. Your rugs and other coverings like mats etc. can be put out after 7 days. Can be walked on in 8 hours. Again, please walk in socks during the curing period.
When you do finally move your furniture back, please be extra careful. Don’t drag furniture across the floor. It breaks our heart to see someone just have their dream floors done and there’s a big scratch in the middle of the room. Also, be sure to use felt pads under all furniture.
In regards to area rugs, give the floors at least two weeks to cure before moving them back into place.
It will depend on a few factors like what finish you choose and whether you use some preventative measures.
Water-based finishes have UV protection built in that slows this process down. However, no matter what type of finish you use, there will likely be some fading in areas exposed to sunlight.
A good way to slow the fade is to move around your rugs and keep your blinds closed during the sunniest part of the day. Since this isn't always practical, we always suggest using a higher grade of finish with UV inhibitors added for floors that get direct sunlight.
If you don't already have them in place, adding window shades, awnings or a high-quality window tint can greatly reduce UV rays from getting on the floors.
When we finish up, we will leave you detailed cleaning and care instructions, as well as a bottle of cleaning solution. We really encourage you to read and implement these suggestions to get the most life out of your new floors.
The answer to how long they will last varies from customer to customer. Do you wear shoes indoors? Do you have pets that have free range on your floors? Will you be regular with the sweeping and cleaning? Are their high-quality mats at all entrances? Will you use felt pads under chairs and use area rugs and hallway/entrance runners?
The answer to the above questions will affect your floor performance. If you are willing to put some effort into keeping your floors in good shape, you may be able to get 20 or more years out of them. However, if you don’t, they may need recoating in just a few short years. It all depends on the amount of care and attention they receive. That’s why we can’t say for sure, because it's impossible for us to know how our customers are going to care for their floors.
We strongly encourage you to read and apply the tips in the Cleaning Guide we provide you at the end of your project. Following these tips will ensure your floors will look great for many years into the future.