Parfait Parquet – Frequently Asked Questions
A key part of my business in France involves providing clear information about the process of floor sanding and the renovation of wood floors. No two floors are ever the same – even in the same house. So my job to assess each room, provide professional advice and give you a price for my work and materials. I want my clients to feel confident that they have made the right choice and to ensure they have the best outcome possible. I’m always being asked lots of questions about my work and what it entails. So to help you understand what’s involved I’ve listed a few common questions and answers below.
Is my wooden floor too damaged to be sanded or restored?
Many old French wood floors actually look worse than they are. In fact the ones that do have layers of old paint and varnish on them are usually the best protected underneath. Once I start sanding you will quickly see the beauty of the natural wood coming through. Any remedial work that is required, such as repairing cracks, replacing boards or gap filling will be part of the complete flooring project.
The exception to the rule is pine floors, and more often pine attic floors. They are very rarely sanded and 80% of the time are affected by wood worm. So they need be assessed in person on a site visit before a price can be given.
Do your sanding machines make lots of dust?
The simple answer is ‘No’. But I’m sure you will find that hard to believe, so I’ll tell you exactly how I protect your property from dust.
Sanding is virtually dust free and I will not damage any skirting boards as I work. This is because I only use Pallmann, Bona and Festool equipment. The names probably won’t mean much to you, but rest-assured they are the best and most efficient products, and will help ensure that your home stays clean and dust free.
My professional sanding machines are 95% dust free although, inevitably, some dust can be generated on certain restoration projects. In some instances, where I encounter a very uneven floor for example, it may generate a slightly higher percentage of dust than normal. But I also use high–powered dust-extracting machines. In addition, I tape up doors to other rooms and cupboards if needed for restoration floors projects. So if low-dust emission is a critical factor for you, perhaps because members of the household have an allergy, or chronic illness, then please let me know in advance.
How long does it take to sand a floor?
An average-sized square room of between 25 to 30 square metres, in straight parquet (bedroom, lounge or hallway for instance) should take a day to sand and a second day to hand finish and varnish, wax or oil. However, if repairs are required to the main body of the floor, or several floor boards need to be replaced then the job will take a little longer.
I also factor in additional time to let the varnish, wax or oil finish fully cure because during this time the floor should not be walked on. You will be informed exactly how long it will take depending on the chosen floor finish. Large rooms with uneven floors, or traditional pattern floors, can take longer to sand and prepare.
Should I consider filling the gaps between my floorboards?
Firstly, it depends on the gap size and the floor type and all floors need to be assessed on a ‘room by room’ basis. Pine floors and parquet floors in particular need different treatments to get the best results.
The cost of gap filling is based on room size and gap size, and priced accordingly. So the client can then decide whether they want to add it to the overall quote for the project. Filling gaps between floorboards is a good idea if you are keen to eliminate draughts in ground floor rooms. It also reduces the amount of dirt and dust that gets trapped between the floorboards. Filling can also make the older pine floors look more refined and give a cleaner look to the floor.
Gaps are filled using a resin filler and sawdust from your floor to get an exact match during the gap filling process. Occasionally, splints may also be required. Splints are narrow strips of wood glued between the floorboards and then sanded down, so they are level with the existing boards. Generally, if the gaps are very small I use a resin filler and sawdust because it gives a much better, more even finish.
What colour will the floor be after sanding?
It all depends on what wood your floor is made from, in their natural form hardwoods like oak, mahogany and walnut tend to be darker. Whereas softwood pine can vary from a pale honey colour, to a dark, golden brown. However, most woods can be stained, bleached, waxed or oiled to be whatever colour you’d like them to be.
Should I use vitrification, osmo oil or another finish?
Each floor finish I use has its own particular strengths and weaknesses. But for a home environment, with average levels of foot traffic, I recommend an Osmo oil finish. However, wear and tear on commercial-use wooden floors, such as a restaurant, bar or reception area, is far greater. Therefore heavier-duty wood care products are required.
If you choose wax or varnish finishes for your home they will require aftercare and periodic re-coating. Protective barriers, created by any floor finish eventually wear through. So a new coat needs to be applied before it deteriorates too much. To remove ingrained dirt the floor will have to be sanded again, as local repairs are almost impossible to carry out without leaving a trace.
Oiled floors on the other hand do not create a protective barrier above the wood. Instead the wood absorbs the oil which means it can repel liquid and dirt. The key benefit of oiled floors is that local repairs can be carried out on damaged areas and they will easily blend in with the rest of the floor.
Re-oiling needs to be carried out far more frequently than varnishing; on average about every 2 to 3 years for heavy traffic floors. Although much less frequently for bedrooms and other low traffic rooms.
What are the maintenance options for each finish?
My advice for all floors is to have good clean doormats to help trap any grit and outdoor dirt. Sweep and vacuum regularly, and lookout for signs of wear and tear on areas that get a lot of traffic. If this happens, just give it a fresh application of oil, water based finish or wax.
The best way to keep a wood floor looking good is maintenance. Keep grit, dirt and dust off your floor and it’s unlikely you’ll need to carry out much re-oiling or re-waxing. Using the correct cleaning products – preferably from the supplier of your floor finish – is vital to ensure floors remain in tip-top condition.
Oiled floors need to be re-nourished periodically because daily use gradually removes the oil which is impregnated within the wood. In a domestic environment re-oiling should be carried out approximately every 36 months. It’s very straightforward and can be carried out by you, with advice from me if required. Daily cleaning should be with a vacuum or dry ‘dust-catching’ mop. Damp wiping can be carried out using the correct floor cleaner. But you must be careful not to puddle the liquid on the floor.
Why use Osmo or Bona stains and varnish on floors and not just a coloured varnish?
This is a very common question. If you visit your local DIY store most products on offer have a colour included. The disadvantage with this is that with each coat you apply, the colour changes and darkens. So imagine what it could look like after 2 or 3 coats if you have not been meticulous. More importantly, as coloured vitrification wears off with time and traffic, the colour can be affected.
With Osmo or Bona finishes the seal protects both the wood and colour stain, so the stain remains consistent for longer. At the staining stage of your floor project, I will sand small areas of the floor back to bare wood. Then I’ll apply your chosen sample colour stains to the floor.
When I’m asked to stain a floor I ask the client to sign a photo, showing the floor and colour test stain. This is to confirm it’s the chosen colour to be applied to the rest of the floor. Once signed the photo then becomes part of the contract. When the stain has been ordered it can only be changed if the client purchases a new stain colour. This is because floor stains cannot be returned to the supplier.
Staining floors will not always have a successful outcome, especially on pine floors with old signs of woodworm. As a professional, if I’m asked to stain floors and I cannot guarantee the process will be 100% successful, my advice will be to finish the floor with clear finish. If they decide not to follow my advice, they will need to find a different artisan to stain the floor.
How long can I expect my new floor to last?
The general rule is the more foot traffic, the greater the wear. In an average family home – two adults, two children and a dog – it is hallways that see the most traffic. Without a good quality doormat and only minimal maintenance and cleaning, I wouldn’t expect a floor to last more than 4-5 years. However, with regular cleaning and sensible precautions, such as felt pads under chair legs, sofas and furniture, your floor will last much longer.
Should I decorate before or after the floor has been sanded?
Ideally I would recommend decorating before floor sanding because it is easy to remove paint from a newly finished floor. The only thing I suggest leaving until after the sanding is complete is a final coat of finish/paint on skirting boards. This is in the very rare event that our sanding machines scuffs the paintwork slightly. You should, of course, then mask the floor carefully to avoid any paint spots and drips.
Finally, if I have not answered all of your questions above, please feel free to call or email me your question. I will respond to you directly by call or in writing, whichever you prefer.