“You should probably be in your socks for this. Actually, you should really go barefoot.”
That’s right, kids, Stories of Flooring is back, and this time it’s barefooted! I love refinish jobs ’cause once we get to the staining/sealing/finishing phase, we have to do it barefoot. Which is a definite plus since I usually have to wear shoes at work. But I digress… on to the stories!
Monday. It was to be a normal day. We were going to one house to put on the final coat of Eurethane, then start tearing up some layers of linoleum and underlayment to expose the old hardwood at another house. Seemed fairly straightforward to me.
We arrived at the first house. One thing you must understand is that this was the 4th time this floor had been finished this month. The lady was never satisfied with the job, and finally asked that somebody new do it. So my boss had already been there and put on one coat. We had to sand it and put on another one. We got there and looked at the floor. There were about 30 post-it notes stuck all over saying “hair” “bump” “bumps” “hair”. And that was only the first coat! Maybe she didn’t understand the process. She also didn’t understand that she owned a dog and when she opens doors and windows to ventilate the area when the floor is still wet, the dog hairs and who knows what else get blown around and land in the finish, causing bumps. So my boss, knowing that this lady is a freak, decides to get down on his hands and knees and do the whole floor by hand so he can see everything as he does it. We had to pick a lot of hairs out of the finish as we went too. Alright, got that done. Close the doors and windows, leave some notes for the homenazi, and head off to the next job.
We arrived and looked over the linoleum. It had a pressboard underlayment, and that was stapled down on top of some kind of tile (probably asbestos). So after much troubles, we finally get all the underlayment up, leaving all the staples stuck in the floor (that’s usually how it goes… those staples are killer). After much more labor and difficulty, we finally get the crumbly, well-glued, cancer-producing tile off the floor. One corner, however, was much different. It had a different type of tile and a much different type of… glue. I wouldn’t call it glue really. It was more like tar… or pitch. We joked around about how Noah’s sons probably installed the tile and used the pitch left over from the ark, but that would be unfair and unrealistic to say. ‘Cause this is where Noah first learned about pitch (needless to say, the flooring was old). Another neat thing about that corner was that the wood flooring was just sitting there. It wasn’t nailed or glued or anything, it was just there. Really weird.
Then there were the staples. If you’ve ever removed Linoleum and underlayment, you know what I’m talking about. They’re apparently worried that someone will try to pull the floor up some time and they can’t have that happen. So there’s always like four million staples. Usually we just go around with a hammer and bang them all in enough that we have a fairly smooth surface to lay hardwood on, but this was different. It was just a refinish. The staples were going into the top of the hardwood.
Just a side note: Who in their right mind installs linoleum over beautiful hardwood? Some people just don’t appreciate quality flooring.
So instead of banging them all in (a tedious, but relatively quick and simple job), we had to remove each staple by hand. And if it snapped, we had to bang it down below the surface with a nail set. I know I exaggerated on the four million, but we literally removed somewhere in the neighborhood of 1200 staples from that floor. Rediculous.
So now all we had to do was get all the black glue/paper up from the majority of the floor, and clear three boards of pitch. Yeah, I could see us spending several days on our hands and knees trying to get that stuff up, so my boss brings out the big guns… the drum sander.
This is the sander that if you try to rent it from Home depot for doing your floors at home, they tell you to use something else. The thing has so much digging power that most people end up with deep, unfixable grooves in their floor if they’ve never used one before. Talk about raw sanding power.
He slapped some 80 grit sand paper (pretty rough stuff) on it, and gave it two passes. the floor still had black stuff on it and the sanding belt was shot. This was serious stuff… and would have to wait ’till tomorrow.
Tuesday we showed up ready to kill that black crap. We were armed with some heavy duty floor stripper. We slapped some on, let it soak in, and scraped it off. Nothing. This was getting serious… but we weren’t quitting yet. My boss went back to the truck and came back with the angel of death. The most powerful force known to the flooring business. I watched in awe as he replaced the sanding belt on the drum sander. It wasn’t 80 grit, or 60, 50, or even 36. He brought 24 grit sanding paper. Basically they took a bunch of gravel, glued it to a heavy-duty peice of paper and called it sandpaper. Rockpaper is a much better word for it. We fired up the drum sander and pretty much made the black stuff wish it never messed with us. After two belts, we finally had the 200 square foot area sanded and ready to move up to 60 grit.
After that, the biggest problem we ran into was filling some pretty bad cracks and 2400 holes left by all the stupid staples. *Sigh* We’d better get paid well for this.
And that, my friends, was the story. If you’re still wondering about the homenazi, she still wasn’t satisfied. We did that job through a general contractor, so it’s not really our problem, and he’ll call us if he chooses to make it our problem (like he did with the last guy). No big deal, my boss is prepared to give it one more try if the lady’s still a nazi about it.