When Dave Schmidt was called out to look at a floor in disrepair that the homeowner wanted to cover with LVP, he had no hint as to the journey he was about to embark.
“Being a hardwood guy, I did not want to cover the existing floor, but I did agree to come out and take a look at it for the homeowner. I felt if we could save the floor, then it would add a lot of value to the home versus covering it with vinyl,” says Schmidt.
I gave the homeowner a bid for LPV and another bid for repairing the existing hardwood floor. By the time materials and labor were factored in, the LPV floor would have actually been more expensive,” explains Schmidt. “I also told her that I had worked with realtor’s in the area, and that I knew keeping the existing wood floor would be a huge positive if she ever decided to sell her home.
When Schmidt first saw the gapped and cupped floor, he thought the material was perhaps cherry, but in reality, what he was looking at was Brazilian teak, also known as cumaru.
“I immediately reached out to some of my friends at the NWFA to get advice on how to work with Brazilian teak. I had sanded dense woods
before, so I knew the sanding process; however, I had some concerns about filler. They don’t make Brazilian teak filler, and I didn’t know what I was going to use to get the stain to match,” explains Schmidt.
“If I used the wrong type of filler, I could end up with racing stripes on the floor. I needed to ensure that the filler would take stain in the same way as the wood so that they would age well together.”
Another concern of Schmidt was the naturally oily characteristics of Brazilian teak. After buffing, he would need to get the floor sealed as soon as possible so as not to have a reaction between the finish and the wood’s oils.
“In addition to worrying about the stain, I was also very concerned about the gaps in the floor. Along the walls and around the vents, it had separated so bad that you could see the subfloor,” says Schmidt.
The gaps in the floor were due to the fact the wood was likely improperly acclimated to the home, shrinking soon after installation, and also due to the original installer not installing the floor tightly enough.
“My initial thought was to simply pull up six or seven rows along the wall where the gaps were the worst, and then reinstall,” says Schmidt.
Unfortunately, pulling the boards and reinstalling turned out to be impossible. Schmidt discovered that the original installer had glued the solid Brazilian teak to the floor. Because of this, he needed to find another solution for fixing the gaps instead of pulling and reinstalling.
“I made a sliver jig, and with boxes of leftover wood the homeowners had from the original install, I made around 100 slivers and glued them into areas of the floor that had the biggest gaps.”
Because Schmidt was doing the repairs during the summer months, he felt adding slivers was an acceptable fix as the floor had swelled to its maximum.
Correcting the Cupping
Unfortunately, for Schmidt, there was one last problem with the floor. “In addition to the gaps, the floor was also cupped and not at all flat. It ended up taking me four days to get 1,200 square feet flat. I started at 36 grit at an angle. I had to angle 60 grit twice. Once at 30 degrees and another at about 15 degrees… then going straight, I finally got the floor flat.”
As aggressively as he had sanded the floor, Schmidt was still worried.
“I was concerned about getting the floor completely flat and getting all of the 36 grit scratch marks out, so I went ahead and took my belt and my edger through 100 grit.”
Fixing the Final Flaws
Content with the floor’s flatness, one final challenge arose as Schmidt began final buffing.
“As I began final buffing, I saw that all of the big gaps that I repaired looked great, but now every single small gap that I had not filled was standing out. I was not happy with the way it looked.”
To correct these small gaps, Schmidt used 100 grit buffer dust combined with a mixing compound.
“I let that dry, rebuffed it, and we stained the next day. I was thrilled with the results,” says Schmidt.
“I am delighted with the way the stain looks, but I’ll be honest, this was a challenge. I had never done it before, but I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. I don’t think the outcome could have turned out any better. The clients love it, and we’ve even become friends during the process.”