What is the Strangest Situation You’ve Encountered While Finishing a Floor?

John Alford
When our crew came back for a walkthrough on a final coat, they were greeted by an unexpected visitor. At some point during the overnight hours, a snake slithered into the wet finish and got stuck. And it was still alive.

Luckily for me, the owner peeled it from the floor and released it. Otherwise, this job might have turned into a board replacement!

Michael Dittmer
Back in the early days of my career, we would use lacquer sealer and spar varnish on floors in rental units. My brother and I would have to get 1,000’ sealed in by 1 p.m. that was a 16 cut with kerosene and a 60 cut after that. These buildings weren’t in the best of areas, and after we would give it a first coat of lacquer sealer, we would come back to some units to find 10 or 20 cockroaches that succumbed to the fumes and departed on our floors.

In a more current episode, the customer wanted the floors to be as white as they could get, so we bleached the floors and stained them white. We hand-applied the coat to keep them looking like snow. After a few days of allowing the stain to dry, we coated it with a catalyzed water-based finish.

We thought all looked fine and dandy, only to return to see a floor that turned bright orange! The chemicals in the bleach caused a reaction to that particular water-based finish and caused the floors to turn orange. After a resand and a restain and the correct finish, the customer was satisfied.

Lenny Hall
In the early 1980s, using moisture-cured urethane was common. It came in two chemical formulas, aliphatic (nonyellowing) and aromatic (yellowing). It was water clear and flowed thick like Karo corn syrup. Unfortunately, the brand we used had generic labeling, and the only distinguishable markings were small numbers (8339 or 8331) above the LARGE PRINT company name. Bonus points and a laugh for anyone who messages me that they too used this brand!

Our sad story takes us to a large bleached/white stained floor. We began brushing on the finish. Our trouble started 15 to 20 minutes into the coat, after we were well across the large living room and working our way to the garage by way of dining room and kitchen. We witnessed a subtle, then obvious, slow change in the floor from white to school bus yellow! You guessed it; we had applied the wrong one.

That situation turned into a sad and very costly resand, delaying our finish date. Not to mention the outright embarrassment of it all. After that, we marked the yellowing type with yellow spray paint. Thankfully we don’t use that stuff (much) any longer.

Brett Miller
My brother and I had a refinish job where the homeowners had a cat, which they kept in the basement during the refinish process. We had the basement door shut during the entire process but had to open it to sand and coat the nosing.

On the third day, we came back to apply a final coat and were greeted by a very distraught homeowner. She was nearly in tears when she answered the door and went to get her (now shaved) cat. Evidently, this cat loved the smell of polyurethane and rolled around on the freshly coated nosing. After unsuccessfully attempting to wash the finish off, she had to take her cat to a groomer to get the cat shaved bald. Needless to say, we had some “cat hair in the coat” repairs to make before applying a final.

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