Tech Talk: Being Asked to Cover a Beautiful Floor Rather Than Restore It

“Have you ever been in a situation where you were asked to cover a beautiful floor rather than restore it?”

John Alford – Alford’s Custom Hardwood Floors

In the early 1990s, my dad and I were doing subcontractor work for a flooring company in Cincinnati. We were sent to a well-known aircraft engine manufacturer to install some glue-down pattern plus flooring in an entry of one of their corporate office buildings. We were to demo carpet, prep the concrete subfloor, and install the new pattern plus hardwood. As we started removing the carpet, we discovered it was installed over the top of terrazzo. As we continued to demo the carpet, we also discovered that there was a custom inlaid logo for the company in the middle of the floor that was very intricate with metal inlays and terrazzo. We showed it to the jobsite supervisor, who said to quickly cover it back up so that nobody would see it or we would be cutting it out of the floor and hanging it on the wall. It was a beautiful medallion, and we hated to cover it back up as it was part of the original company that was founded in the early 1900s, but it was what the job required.

Mike McDermott – McDermott Hardwood Floors

I was called to give a floor estimate for a 100-year-old commercial building. The owner, who also owns a construction company, wanted to have 2,500 square feet of laminate flooring installed over the existing worn-out original hardwood floors. As soon as I walked in, I knew it was mine. I quickly convinced him to let me have full control over the complete restoration of this once-beautiful maple floor. It was a labor of love and a great challenge for me, but I couldn’t wait to start. Half of the floor was badly stained and water damaged. There were burns in the floor, trap doors, subfloor and structural weaknesses, as well as peaks and valleys. I had my work cut out for me, but I knew I could change the future of
the building.

Seventy-five percent of the original maple was pulled up. All nails were pulled by hand, boards scraped clean, and categorized by condition and length. We replaced the remaining sleepers with plywood to make the reinstallation of the same floor easier. The bad parts of the boards were cut off as we glued and re-nailed this old maple floor back for another round. A mix of long length, patina, dings, partial burns, gnarly grain and color, and a lot of bird’s eye. The floor was ready for sanding, staining, and finishing. The place also needed trim, though. We snatched the “garbage” 2×6 ceiling joists and created a rustic vibe by customizing our own window boxes, wall trim, and floorboards. Halfway through the job, the owner stopped checking on us and told us to do whatever we wanted. Today, the building houses a law firm that relocated from downtown Chicago to Beverly Hills on the south side. I was told the firm had to have it. Restoring a historic floor makes it worth my time and enhances everyone’s experiences. This would never have happened if a laminate floor had gone down.

Jon Namba – Namba Services Inc.

The simple answer is yes. Now, to look a bit deeper. Why would a consumer want to cover hardwood flooring with carpet, laminate, or luxury vinyl plank flooring (LVP)?

Let’s look at a few of the “over-marketed” terms being used to sell LVP and laminate flooring over existing hardwood.

  • Waterproof
  • Scratch resistance
  • Floating floors are more forgiving than a nail-down or glue-down floor when it comes to floor flatness

The benefits for refinishing? Endless colors, the ability to have a new floor without full replacement, and, if properly maintained, it will give additional years of use to the initial investment.

Hardwood refinishing requires an installer with the knowledge of sanding and finishing hardwood floors. Many of the installers coming into the industry, and those who have been installing carpet, are now installing factory-finished hardwood flooring, laminate flooring, and luxury vinyl planks, as they see that there is the potential for higher profit margins. There is nothing wrong with this, but many of these installers do not have sand and finish skills to refinish a floor, so the next best option? Cover the existing hardwood floor with a floating wood floor. To those installers who are able to sand and finish, I applaud you for your desire to continue a trade that represents the beauty and lasting quality of wood floors.

For additional information, check out the NWFA’s technical publications at

Wood Flooring Installation Guidelines Wood Flooring Sand and Finish Guidelines

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