We said refinish the floor - not remove it!

noraoncodyJanuary 3, 2014
Imagine our surprise when we stopped by our house to check on the renovation progress, and found that the dining room floor was gone! Original hardwood, from 1947. Their mistake, so they'll replace it on their dime. My question is whether new hardwood, given the same stain as the adjoining living room, which will also be refinished, will have any chance of matching that living room floor. If it doesn't match, what can be done to minimize or distract from the clash?
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Rockin' Fine Finish
Do you have a pic of the other flooring chances are good that it won't match
1 Like    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 9:17PM
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PaintColorHelp.com Dallas
I don't see how it's possible to match the grain, though if you get the same species, you will have the best chance. However, if you give them a plank from the original floor, and a piece or two of the new, unstained wood, a good paint store can do a stain match. Due to the varying degrees to which wood accepts stain, you may still see a difference, but this is the best bet unless you have the contractor totally strip the rest of the floor as well.
2 Likes    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 9:27PM
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mickisue
If it were me, and it's not...I would insist, once the final bill comes, that they take off a sizable chunk for destroying the original wood. Whatever they use to replace it will not be the quality that was available, 70 years ago.
10 Likes    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 9:52PM
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grobby
This sounds a little strange to me. Did you have some valuable flooring there that had resale value. I will share a little story regarding my daughter's home being remodeled after a terrible tornado in 2010. Her home was somewhat historical. It was built( we were told) out of lumber used to build Reverend Billy Graham's platform for a service he held in NC, in the 50's. The house was insulated with original Coca Cola posters, which my daughter knew about. Floors were heart of pine in good reusable condition. Those floors disappeared. They got the scrappy posters. Wanting to keep the front door for a memento, they found it on a sub's truck. The builder had given it to him.
Agree with mickisue and will add that they should be ashamed of themselves for putting this emotional and financial stress on you. It is stressful enough under the best of conditions.
4 Likes    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 10:10PM
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wlkgbrz
Sounds odd to me too. Why remove from that room only? Either they wanted the wood or maybe they screwed it up beyond repair? You won't be able to get the same match because the grain on the wood today won't be as tight. On the other hand if the color matches probably no one but you would notice the difference. You may want to ask them to "feather" in the different woods to make the transition less noticeable.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 11:03PM
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PirateFoxy
Or intentionally add a section of wood that looks different from both - our 1930s house has a section like that where a wall was removed and the floor patched, and it isn't invisible but if you notice it, it looks more like a reference to the history of the house and the changes it has gone through than like a horrible mistake, and I think that might help obscure differences between the wood in the rooms proper if they are relatively similar.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 11:25PM
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chookchook2
To minimise mismatches, employ rugs.
2 Likes    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 11:40PM
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brickln
Do the bedrooms have hardwood you could swap out? I'd rather the mis-match in a closed off room.
    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 5:40PM
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happyasaclam
I'm so sorry this happened to you. Get that contractor out there looking for wood to match. More than likely the original flooring came from a mill close to your locale. It won't hurt to look for salvaged flooring.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 6:05PM
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roosterdavis
This is too bad. I don't agree that you just can't get wood like you could in the 40's. That's nonsense. Unless it's Douglas Fir, Cuban Mahogany or old growth cypress or something. A skilled finisher should be able to match it up with some patience. It's a dark finish, so you have that going for you. Keep hope! This will pan out in the end.
5 Likes    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 9:24PM
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JudyG Designs
What kind of wood? I would think that you could get the same species, same size and then have them refinish the entire downstairs flooring. I think if you bring the old floor down it will take the stain the same as the new wood. Make them do the entire downstairs.
    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 5:34AM
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mickisue
It's not that you can't get the same species. It's that the woods grown for harvest today have been rushed to their full growth, and won't be the same. Wood has become a cash crop, like corn, and even the corn today isn't the same as it would have been when this house was built.

BTW: did you get an explanation for why the floor was torn up? Or information on what they did with it?
3 Likes    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 10:29AM
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feeny
I agree with roosterdavis. IF you can get the same species and cut of wood there shouldn't be a problem matching since you are refinishing all the floors with the same stain and finish and the rooms are separated. We built an addition that was continuous with a 90 year old white oak floor in our kitchen. In our case we couldn't refinish the older floor (layers were too thin) so we had to match the new stain and finish to the old one, as well as matching the wood species and cut. With a talented flooring specialist we had no problem. The visible difference between them are the spaces between the boards more than the wood grain itself. Because the old wood has shrunk over time, the spaces between the boards are darker and wider. Otherwise the grain patterns on the planks themselves look virtually identical. Top half of photo is 90 year old wood; bottom half 5 year old wood.
7 Likes    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 10:36AM
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pspofford
This can be fixed. I almost doubled the square footage of my 1948's house last summer. A local hardwood floor contractor was able to not only match the wood (they have a very specific rating system for the species of wood and size of grain) but also integrate it into the old floor by removing some of the old pieces and integrating the new pieces with the old. He then sanded and sealed it all. Yes, even without any stain, it is a perfect match. It's a huge room with a wide open view of new vs old floor and it is seamless. With your clean stop at the doorway, I don't think this is going to be a problem for you.
2 Likes    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 10:42AM
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Dalittlewon Turtle
Oh no that's horrible that you have to go through that. The older wood floors are so much nicer then what they make today.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 10:44AM
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Ramona
I agree that getting new wood to replace and match old wood is an issue even though I rec'd feeny's posting. Old growth wood is qualitatively different. I suppose the exact character of what you have in the living room will be crucial to solving this problem. I would be very careful about what you agree to. Bringing wood from somewhere else in the home and redoing the other rooms might be a good bet. Make sure you ask a lot of questions about how this happened. If they are doing your whole house, there could be other problems down the line. Good luck. I love renovation. It is unfortunate that we have to be wary and hunt hard for reputable contractors. One option would be to force them to do the living and dining room with top of the line new flooring.
2 Likes    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 10:56AM
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halfpint2
I don't think a reputable contractor would make such a ridiculous mistake! I think your floor was stolen, and probably sold. Reclaimed wood is extremely valuable! I would find another contractor ASAP, perhaps someone on this forum can recommend someone in your area, this is tragic!
6 Likes    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 11:08AM
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m3459
feeny, can you really not see the difference in the wood in your referenced picture? Honest question....
1 Like    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 11:37AM
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feeny
I can't see the difference in the wood grain itself, m3459. But I can definitely see the difference in the spaces between the wood. Does that make sense? So I can tell one is an old floor and one is a new floor, but not because the wood grain pattern looks different, only because the old wood has shrunk so each piece looks outlined more from the pieces next to it. The transition between the two floors is right at the mid-point of the brown wall that juts out, but it is only when you look up a bit further into the kitchen and see so many dark lines between floorboards that it becomes clear (to me at least) that it is an older floor.
    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 12:49PM
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brickln
I, too, would discontinue working with this contractor
4 Likes    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 1:13PM
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happyasaclam
m3459, I can see the difference between feeny's new floor and old floor. The shrinkage is clearly apparent. It is however a beautiful floor and the specialist did a great job :)
2 Likes    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 2:51PM
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Rockin' Fine Finish
the difference between old and new are huge new growth wood will never look or take stain like old wood new growth is grown so fast that the grain is less stable and the wood is prone to splitting the characteristics in old growth are not easily replaced with new wood
1 Like    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 6:31PM
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TMK Remodeling
Agree this smells fishy. I see a new plywood sub floor and what looks like plumbing in the walls. Questions I would want answers to:
1. Was their a need to remove the finished floor to expose the sub floor, structural framing or plumbing, elec or mech systems?
2. Was keeping or removing the finished floor explicitly stated in the scope of work or construction drawings?
3. Can the original flooring materials be returned, installed and refinished?

In any case, I would ask that the the original flooring materials be returned to the job site for inspection.

Issues arise on every job. The home owner and contractor have to work together to resolve them. If you feel this was an 'honest' mistake, then I suggest you allow the contractor to make good on the replacement floor matching the surrounding spaces. In the big picture, if this is the only issue with the project and the floor closely matches the others then you will probably be satisfied with the results. If you think the contractor is 'stealing' the floor then the trust is gone in the relationship and agree its best to end it now and re-hire.
5 Likes    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 7:04PM
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happyasaclam
Bull, Rockin'! Most hardwoods are not commercially farmed as is pine. Growth rings depend on several different factors. Spring and fall rainfall being the most significant. More rainfall = less stress = larger growth rings. Trees grown in the open with less competition from other trees and vegetation will have larger growth rings. Trees under stress have tighter growth rings. Different species of hardwoods grow best on different site. Quality comes in to play when a species is grown on a difficult site. Walnut is one of the only species grown specificantly for commercial applications. A good merchandiser will get the right wood to the right mill.
3 Likes    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 7:24PM
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Rockin' Fine Finish
@ Happy yes there's old growth sites but cutting trees at 10 , 20 , 30 years does not make it old growth , old growth is the stuff that was being put in early 1900's homes 80 to 100 growth wood which in turn makes the quality of the wood much higher than a 10 year old tree. they now pump steroids into certain species of wood to make them grow faster. I've dealt with older wood and new stuff and trust me they don't react the same to stains or finishes . for example I could apply two coats of clear finish to older wood and have it be smooth with the stuff out there right now try more like four coats the stuff is simply porous and sucks stains and finishes unevenly
4 Likes    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 7:37PM
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brickln
Seems the OP is missing and posts were deleted. Hmm.....
1 Like    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 10:38PM
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happyasaclam
WOW! brickin, you're right! Something fishy IS going on....... Rockin' - back to you when I have time to lay it all out :D
1 Like    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 7:17AM
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Fred S
Often, in a house of that period, the old flooring is removed in the kitchens and baths to find that there never really was any finished hardwood underneath as thought.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 7:43AM
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leelee
You should have no trouble with matching woods. We added new hardwoods that butt up to old ones and you'd never guess they weren't done at the same time. Since no two pieces of wood are exactly alike even on the existing floor it's not a big deal. Our floors even have different sealers--new is urethane and old is the type that needs to be waxed. Still no problem. Go for it.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 8:12AM
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leelee
Since you're refinishing all the old floors that will even the playing field. The "new" wood exposed after sanding the old floors will almost be like new floors. You can change the stain if you wish lighter or darker finish.
    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 8:16AM
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mcs0430
PirateFoxy- can you post a picture of how your floors look like with the patch? I have the same dilemma and I hate how mine looks like right now.
    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 8:28AM
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mickisue
There could be a semi-rational explanation for the disappearance of the OP. If it were me, and I really hadn't considered the possibility of theft in the loss of the kitchen floor, I would be talking to the police and consulting an attorney. It's extremely likely that an attorney would tell the OP to stop talking about this online.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 8:32AM
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PirateFoxy
@mcs0430 - I'll try to get some tomorrow during the day.
    Bookmark   January 6, 2014 at 3:09PM
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