Will I be able to stay in my house?
Multiple Phasing Plans
Wood floor finishing frequently asked questions boils down essentially to two questions: Will I be able to stay in my house; and 2., How can I make sure my floors and furniture are protected. If you specialize in working in owner-occupied homes, you’d better have a plan ready to help homeowners through what is arguably one of the toughest things they will ever experience; having their wood floors refinished . . . while they are living in the house. This easily competes with root canals, IRS audits and all vowels on your Scrabble tray.
Years ago, I realized that if you had to go into houses, displace the occupants, create havoc and try and leave on friendly terms, you better have their best interest at heart. I started “phasing” projects so homeowners retain their sanity and I keep my business prospering.
Wood Floor Finishing FAQ: What is Phasing?
Phasing means that you break a wood floor finishing project up into multiple phases so that people can stay in their homes, get their floors refinished, and their objectives met. It often means that the project takes longer, cost a bit more and forces you to think outside the box. It means that the grand piano (the 800 lb. gorilla) no longer dictates the course of events. But most of all, it means the project gets done and the homeowners keeps their sanity.
Suppose you have a large house, fully furnished but in dire need of some better looking floors. Let’s begin with half of the large rooms on that level, completely refinish them and allow the finish to cure for a few days. Then you come back and wrap them.
Wood Floor Finishing FAQ: Professional Floor Protection
After you wrap the floors, you move the furniture that had been stored in the other rooms on this level. You want to be very careful not to damage the floors and this is done by using dollies, hand trucks and people who have respect for your furnishings. This comes close to doubling the amount of time for the work but hey, it enables you to do it! Over the years, I have found that the fear of the chaos of having wood floor work has stopped more homeowners from having it done than anything else. This helps eliminate much of the difficulty of the problem.
Protecting your Floors with Professional Covering
Here’s another example. Suppose you are finally getting that dream kitchen. You like the look of wood floors in a kitchen area, and you really want all the floors finished and protected, and that includes under the cabinets and appliances. How are you going to make that happen without doing major damage to the finished floor, esp. when you install cabinets? Here’s how. You go ahead and sand the floors; stain or seal the wood, and then make two applications of finish. You then wrap the floors with two layers of red rosin or building paper. (Always remember that you never ever, under any circumstances, apply any kind of masking tape directly to the floors. I don’t care how old the finish is — don’t do it. Got that?) Some people like to cover the floor with plastic but I am not too keen on that as it is often slippery. Now you can sit back, relax and just wait for the cabinets. And wait. And wait.
Protecting Floors with Masonite
When the cabinets start to arrive (finally!) you now have plenty of protection and space to start assembling them. You still want to exercise caution just as you would over any surface. No major spills. Let’s not be dropping large objects. And if tears appear in the paper, repair them. Be careful not to let dust and debris get under the paper as it could damage the finish. I usually put down Masonite (some call it hardboard) for additional protection. In the picture to the right, you can see the Masonite underneath the sawhorses and cordless drill. This provides some excellent protection and is well worth the additional (minimal) cost and effort.
Protecting Floors from Moving Pianos
Speaking of Masonite, let’s make good use of it to deal with the 800 lb. gorilla that you often find lurking in living rooms; the piano. A few things you need to know — first, don’t roll a piano over a wood floor. Second, don’t roll a piano over a wood floor. And finally, third, don’t roll a
piano over a wood floor. (Kinda reminds you of my advice on putting masking tape on a floor.) What I like to do is take strips of Masonite that I have cut from the original 4’ x 8’ sheet. I usually cut strips about 12” wide and 4’ long as you see in this picture to the left. I place the Masonite under the casters of the piano to form a track of sorts and then I roll to my heart’s desire. It is the Masonite that is getting indented — not the wood floor. Since Masonite comes in two thicknesses, 1/8 and 1/4, I always use the thicker version to make sure I don’t have problems. If it is a monster of a grand piano that looks like it is ready to plunge right through to the basement, I will double up the strips to buy a little extra insurance.
Finally, what about a little something else to help keep those workers shoes clean as they tromp through your home during your renovation project? Makes sense; they are there to help be creative, not destroy your floors. Here is a product that I have made good use of. It is 32” wide and comes in rolls from 50’ to 100’. It may seem a little pricey but I know a bunch of contractors who swear by it. It is called Dura Runner, it has a backing that helps keep it from slipping and you can check it out here: www.protectiveproducts.com/durarunner.html
OK, that’s it for this session. You now know a lot more about how to protect your floors before, during and after your project. What a wise use of your time!