Buckeye Hardwood Services

Site Under Construction… Pardon Our Dust

Buckeye Hardwood feels that it is their duty to educate the consumer on why unfinished hardwood flooring makes sense. Informed buyers want the best.

Therefore anyone may receive the truth about hardwood floors (from a man known to some as “The Woodbitch”) via the internet, as a guest speaker, or by attending any of our exhibits at central Ohio home shows.

I will rant, preach, lecture, chide, and/or argue the benefits of site-finished hardwood floors to any civic group or professional organization at no charge.

You’re on my list. Your self-serving flooring decisions are centered on your bottom line; the Woodbitch is on a mission to educate the masses. I have installed – in my 30 year career as a carpenter – one “pre-finished” floor. Never have I done, nor will I ever do another again. Living on a “pre-finished” or “factory-finished” floor (of which there is no difference) is not far removed from living on painted crates; they are about as porous. Within the cracks and crevices of a micro-beveled edge lies ground-in trafficked dirt, moisture, bacteria, and mold. This is unhealthy for the occupant and the home. If these imitation floors are so good, why are they always compared to ours? ie “Looks and wears almost as well as a “real hardwood floor.”


We have yet to meet a mother-in-law or – more importantly – a real estate appraiser who couldn’t spot a fake. The tell-tale signs are everywhere.

Along with this service of free education, Buckeye Hardwood does install and restore hardwood flooring.

Site-finished hardwood floors are, indeed, site-finished. That statement may seem redundant, but invariably we get that client that is amazed by the equipment necessary to install, sand, and finish their floor. Two vans – one with a wheelchair lift for our 275lb floor sander, the other full of enough carpentry tools to start a wood shop. Site-finished hardwood flooring is major construction.

Most projects require a substantial amount of prep-work to ready the sub floor for ¾” thick tongue-and-groove flooring. All furniture must be removed and stored for the duration. Pianos and other items that cannot be removed must be worked around. Appliances must be shut-off, toilets must be removed, and then all of that stuff has to be put back without scratching your new floors. Air sleds, wax rings, and dollies are all overlooked when factoring in the cost of installing a site-finished hardwood floor. Other hidden costs include masking, removing and disposing of all debris, cutting the bottoms of doors, transition moldings to other living areas, and all of the meals you will eat out while we have your home torn apart.

The fastener, called a cleat, is specially designed to allow flooring to properly expand and contract without cupping or buckling. A hardwood floor is an organic (passive solar) product that changes with the season. Improper fasteners result in squeaky floors.

This cacophony of pneumatic cleat nail guns, table saws, air compressors, sanders, miter boxes, and men yelling measurements is enough to make cats retreat to the far corners of the basement, dogs weep, and babies bark. Yep, bark. We take up half of the driveway with our vans. Hoses and extension cords are everywhere – but the floor is going down. It is at this stage where the homeowner gets their first glimpse of the most beautiful floors in the world. We tell them, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”

There is no such thing as a perfect sub-floor. Your home is a collection of imperfect lumber, placed on an imperfect foundation, by imperfect carpenters. By site-finishing ¾” tongue-and-groove, end-matched hardwood flooring, Buckeye Hardwood can give you a truly sealed floor.

I don’t recommend it, but even the “Woodbitch” has missed a toilet or two in his day. We install 15” felt or flooring rosin paper as a moisture retardant, and then pneumatically blind nail every 8” to 10” of the flooring. The flooring nailer ensures that each fastener is nailed at the proper angle and the correct depth.

Immediately after the flooring is installed we start sanding. This stage is what puts a site-finished floor a head above the rest. Think of it more as grinding down the floor (60 grit) to remove any high spots.

After the first sanding, any voids and cracks wider than the thickness of a dollar bill are filled with a wood-fill that matches the floor species.

This is the step that separates site-finished floors from pre-finished floors; it assures you will have a truly sealed floor. After the floor is filled it is again sanded with the next grit (80) then screened with 100. These subsequent sandings take out any sandpaper marks left over from the coarser grits and prepares the wood for the finish.

When the sealer is applied to the wood it “raises” the grain and accentuates the annual rings. The annual rings are what gives wood its grain – which is the true beauty of hardwood floors.

After the sealer is dry, the floor is sanded yet again (this time with 180-grit paper), then vacuumed and readied for the finish.

Finishes are sold according to their sheen, or the amount of gloss. We recommend a satin finish – which will not show the scuff marks as readily as a semi-gloss or gloss.

An entire website could be devoted to finish. Oil-modified urethanes have dominated the market for the last seventy years, but advances in the industry have given an edge to many of the new waterborne finishes – especially those which require a two-part mix.

Two-component finishes (which mix like an epoxy) are VOC compliant – which means that no hazardous vapors are introduced into your home. These latest waterborne finishes, unlike the old oil-modified urethanes, will not amber. Ultra-violet rays will not affect them.

When tested, two-component waterborne finishes have shown to be more scuff-resistant than any of the other finishes. These finishes are the choice of colleges and shopping malls with hardwood floors. The only drawbacks of two-component finishes are that:

They require specialty tools to install (synthetic applicators, weighted t-bars, etc),

They require experienced and skilled flooring craftsmen to apply, and

They have a greater cost; oil-modified urethanes cost approximately $15 a gallon whereas this “super finish” costs around $75 a gallon.

These drawbacks do not deter the quality of your hardwood floors. They only affect those stubborn flooring companies who refuse to keep up with the latest products and technological advances in their industry. The cost difference has more to do with their decision to use oil-modified urethanes (the lesser product) over water-based urethanes than they would like to admit.

Continued research and development have made hardwood flooring an even better choice. I used to say that hardwood floors, when properly maintained, will last 150 years. With some of the new finishes, my hardwood floors may have an infinite life.




Can I get a hallelujah?

With proper maintenance, hardwood floors will outlast even a sub-prime mortgage. As long as wood has a protective finish, it should out-live any homeowner.

The dilemma of hardwood floors is that this beautiful, healthy, sustainable flooring can be ruined by the most abundant substance on the planet: water. When water is allowed to penetrate raw wood, the wood (like any other organic compound) breaks down. The corrosive properties of water result in the wood rotting and unseen mildew forming. To prevent the hardwood (and the sub-floor and structural members) from rotting and mildew forming, a finish is applied to the properly prepared flooring (see NWFA Standards).

This finish is absorbed into the wood much like water, except that when the floor-finish dries, a portion (what we call solids) remains in the wood. Think scuff-resistant Jell-O.

This combination of preparation and finish application are necessary for a truly sealed floor. This is another reason a site-finished floor is head-and-shoulders above a factory-finished (or “pre”-finished) floor.

Buckeye Hardwood can refinish pre-finished floors. These floors, because of their infamous beveled-edge, present unique problems. Depending on the manufacturer, we can sometimes sand away most of the beveled edge, trowel-fill the entire floor, and apply a three-coat system for the finish. The aluminum-oxide finish on pre-finished floors does not wear as well as the site-finished, two-component finishes (see our finishes page). Those other times when the beveled edge cannot be sanded flush, it is necessary to use Basic Coating’s sand-less finishing system to insure adhesion of the new finish in the v-grooves.

Factory-finished flooring is not worth the small savings between it and site-finished floors. By their design, they hold water in the beveled edge, where it seeps beneath the boards, trapping the water in a dark, moist environment perfect for mold growth, thereby creating health risks, to say nothing of aluminum-oxide’s toxicity. This, along with the other mentioned shortcomings, and their huge carbon footprint (compared with site-applied VOC compliant finishes), make pre-finished hardwood floors a poor choice.

Pre-finished floors are environmentally unfriendly, can be unhealthy, are difficult to maintain, and even more difficult to refinish. But they can be installed and sold by the often under-educated staff at your local big-boxes–Lowe’s, Home Depot, Sears, etc.

Signs that hardwood floors may need maintenance include discoloration (or an overall dingy, grimy appearance); “cow paths”; gaps between the boards; a loss of sheen on the finish; and, of course, damage of any kind. These are all red flags–are the traffic areas a different sheen than the less used areas? Is raw wood exposed? Has the floor lost its soul?

THE PATH TO EVERLASTING WOOD FLOORS: What to do if your floors show wear.

Can I get an Amen?

Like any lost soul, flooring that has lost its luster needs to be treated on an individual basis. Just as no two pieces of flooring are identical, neither are any two solutions to resurrect your floors. A few of the variables that must be determined before work can be started on your project include considerations of different wood species, type of finish, degree of wear, pets, furniture removal (think pianos), budget, and customer expectations.

If your floors are showing wear, contact me and arrange an inspection. I must view the project in person. As obvious as that sounds, there are nonetheless those who contact me and ask, “How much do you charge per square foot to [refinish, install, repair] my dining room and entry?”

My knee-jerk response is to reply, “How much money do you have?”–the point being that Buckeye Hardwood bids by the project, not by the price-point.

We also understand that this website, like any website, needs to allow the visitor to assemble the information that will assist them in making the most informed decision. To that end, we have chosen examples from completed contracts over the past ten years that illustrate a portion of the variety of methods used and problems encountered, dealing with existing hardwood floors. Many of these examples may be viewed in the gallery.

Example 1

Scope of work:
Remove existing shoe mold. Remove and reinstall refrigerator. Mask off cabinets and unaffected adjoining rooms. Sand existing hardwood floor to bare wood. Fill all gaps. Sand/screen/apply three coat system (sealer plus build-coat, and a final coat of two-component satin finish). Furnish and install [3] 4″x10″ flush, maple heat registers. Furnish and install new shoe mold. Homeowner to furnish stain for shoe mold.

Location: Chillicothe
Contact Amount: $2,500

Example 2

Scope of work:
Remove and reinstall all “two-man” furniture. Remove carpet pad, tack strips, and shoe mold. Haul debris; Buckeye Hardwood to furnish dumpster. Sand all floors to bare wood and fill all gaps. Finish sanding then apply three coat system (sealer plus build-coat, and a final coat of two-component satin finish). Install new oak shoe mold throughout.

Location: Columbus – West
Contract Amount: $4,500

Example 3

Scope of work:
“Scuff & Re-Coat”–screen entire first floor. Sand with 180-grit strips. Deal with the piano. Plug hole by front door.

Location: Upper Arlington
Contract Price: $1,800

Example 4

Scope of work:
Use Ty-Cote sand-less system to prepare wood. Then apply two coats of V.O.C.-compliant waterborne matte finish. Install three flush white oak registers. Address black-mark under “his” chair. Remove and reinstall “two-man” furniture. Furniture is to be brought back in two days after application of finish.

Location: Minerva Park
Contract: $2,200

Hopefully, this boardwalk through the forest of hardwood floor resurrection will give you the knowledge necessary to have an everlasting sustainable relationship with your floors. You may also experience an inner-peace that often accompanies being “one” with nature.

Go forth and spread the gospel of site-finished hardwood floor s.

Also remember that besides being sustainable, healthy and affordable site-finished hardwood floors are beautifu l.

Can I have another hallelujah?

All content and photographs copyright © 2005 Buckeye Hardwood.

Are you looking for Buckeye Hardwood & Lumber Co. out of Montana? If so, click here: buckeyehardwoods.com