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Take a vacation, refinish your hardwood floors

Running a small company keeps Jeff Hough, owner of Hardwood Elegance Flooring Co. in Pickerington, Ohio, in touch with his client’s needs, he says.

“People feel comfortable handing their house keys to us when they’re on vacation,” Hough says. “That’s the best time to refinish hardwood floors, since it’s a noisy and messy job.”

The flooring contractor, who has earned the Super Service Award every year since 1999, believes he and his partner’s customer-centric relationships are what sets them apart in the industry.

Angie's List asked Hough for his advice about refinishing hardwood floors.

What should I keep in mind when having my hardwood floors refinished?

Hough: When your flooring begins to show traffic patterns, it's time to sand it, or you should put on a maintenance coat of new polyurethane. If the floor's finish is still intact, a maintenance coat will help it last another five years, costing you 60 percent less than sanding the floor.

However, if it's time to sand, keep in mind what kind of equipment the contractor is using, because sanding machinery works differently. The best contractors invest in a special random orbit sander, which works well in kitchens, hallways and half-baths, because it can get into tighter areas.

Homeowners demand dust-free systems, and the particular machine we use is 99-percent dust-free. It differs from a belt sander in that it can go against the wood grain and sand a surface area of 14 to 17 inches, putting more sandpaper directly in contact with the floor. It'll give you a truer flat floor and collect the dust created during the sanding process.

If you get your floors stained, which is often part of the sanding process, I ask homeowners to empty the rooms they're having refinished and avoid using their hardwood floors for five days after I stain it with three coats of oil-based polyurethane, which I believe is the best type of stain.

When I'm finished, I tell homeowners who want to lay down an area rug to buy one that they'll want to keep for a long time, because it'll discolor the floor beneath it after a few years due to the absence of sunlight, which naturally fades exposed areas. There's nothing you can do to solve the discoloration except refinish the floor.

For homeowners with pets, you should keep dogs' nails short. Keep in mind that pets' nails and high-heeled shoes are the worst for your hardwood floors, because they'll dent the wood.

To maintain your floors, use a mixture of 50 percent vinegar and water to clean them on a regular basis. Roombas also work well to clean dirt and debris. I have several iRobot Roombas, and they sweep up the hair from my dog's hair on a daily basis.


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