Buffing Hardwood Floors

Hi,
I just moved into a new house. The builder did not do a great job with the floors. There looks like small bubbles on the varnish and it doesn't seem smooth. If I rented a buffer and ran that over the floor would that smooth it out? If so, how does the buffer actually smooth it out, does it wear it down or apply heat?
Thanks, Ryan
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The builder owes you a decent floor. Talk to him about it. No reason that you should have to finish his work for him. You may have to apply a bit of legal pressure, so don't cave on this one. There may be other shortcuts in the work, so be expecting other surprises. Good luck.
Joe
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Joe wrote:

OP- New, as in newly built, or just new to you? If newly built, I agree, lean on the builder. If just new to you, sounds like a poor refinish job. Very few builders site-finish floors on new construction, other than on high-end custom homes. Major pain in the ass, since it basically shuts the site down for several days to keep the dust down. That, and factory finishes on hardwood floors (in my experience, anyway) are much more durable. (Does anybody put hardwood in less than high-end customs any more?) And as you found out, getting a good finish is a lot harder than it looks.
I'd leave it alone, or call in a pro (or make the builder call one in). Buffing alone will not do it- basically takes a sanding and a new topcoat, and if there are major flaws close to the wood, they will still be there. In most cases, the flaws are way more obvious to you than to anyone else. After living there awhile, there will be all sorts of new marks you make, and you won't even see them.
-- aem sends...
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To answer some of the questions...
1. The house is newly built. 2. We moved in approximately 2 months ago. 3. The floors were finished on site.
When we were closing on the house, we complained about some scratches on the varnish of the floor. The builder could not buff it out, so they sanded it down and reapplied the varnish. This seemed like it was rushed because this time there were bubbles. We were told we could just buff them out and it wasn't a big deal. Now, two months later, we feel like it needs to get done.
I'm not sure how cooperative the builder will be, but I might try that route.
Thank for all of your responses. Ryan
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"rzaleski" wrote

Buffer, not the recommended unit. Also note another who is quite correct that once you touch it, the builder is no longer liable to fix it.

I have refinished 3 houses with wood floors. None were 'new'. One had a mix of real wood planks (1 inch thick) and laminate 'tounge and groove'. (the other 2 were older houses built pre-WWII with real planks).
You need to know what you have there. Without experience, you could be thinking you have the real planks that are at least 1/2 inch thick and normally are 1 or more inches thick in older homes. These, you sand down, restain, and apply a top coat to. Thee will be a huge amount of dust and if possible, you move out for the time when you do this.
Laminate is another animal. Pesky and thin. Often not much more than 1/4 inch. Looks actually fairly good and last longer than you would think with care, but not for refinishing by the average neophyte. You can easily have to replace it all if you use a sander. Now, a buffer with the type of pad used for that sort of floor to 'strip wax' may work but you will have to reseal it when done. It will take a bunch of runs to *gently* take it down past the bubbles and is actually harder to so than sanding down fully to bare wood on real planks then restaining and applyng whatever topcoat you feel right (we just waxed it well).
New house, today, I bet you have laminate with an acrylic top that looks show room pretty but the top coat of acrylic will wear off within 6 months in all traffic areas.
Personally? If I had that here, I'd just let the bubbles wear out and wax it well as it happens to retain the shine. In 6 more months, you wont be able to tell the difference.
PS: Real Hardwood is used to make those laminate sorts too. I may be using the wrong term but I mean the really thin stuff sold all over the place now.
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wrote:

Why should "we" buff it out?!
If it was no big deal why didn't "he" buff it out.
...because bubbles cannot be buffed out. It's air trapped between two surfaces of the clear coat. Bubble wrap concept. Air bubbles in clear coat are frequently caused by shaking it like regular paint before applying. An absolute no-no! Cans of these types of clear coats will say right on the can NOT to shake them. Always stir.
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rzaleski wrote:

If it was no big deal, why didn't *he* do it? ___________

You have a warranty on your house from the builder? The bubbles are more than a handful? Enforce the warranty.
--

dadiOH
____________________________
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rzaleski wrote:

I haven't refinished floors, only wood furniture. When I have had small bubbles, the solution was to rub out with fine steel wool - after the finish has CURED - and apply another coat. It can be helpful to thin the final coat sparingly. As another has suggested, this is an issue for the builder, which I would present to the builder through a polite, business-like letter. If you mess with it yourself, you will not be able to go back to the builder. Heat is definitely not the answer - you could partially melt the finish and end up with a gummy, rough surface. If you use any abrasive, you might get all the way through the clear coat and into the stain...not for a newbie without thorough research.
In my experience, fine steel wool will dull the finish but that goes away with application of another coat. Do you know what finish was used? Good place to start is by finding out and checking the mfg. website for advice.
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MikeL had written this in response to http://www.thestuccocompany.com/maintenance/Re-Buffing-Hardwood-Floors-351731-.htm : Ryan,
We've been living the "cost" of having a bad builder for over 19 months now. We live in Texas and had to get the Texas Residential Construction Commission to come in and inspect our home. Over 100 "issues" later, the builder finally is putting together an "offer of settlement".
I would strongly suggest that you look for trade organizations where you live. If Texas, contact the TRCC. You can also call builders associations, etc.
Build owes you a new floor... not one that is substandard. As we had to convince ourselves, we bought a new home, not one that was 100 years old and might show its age. Make the builder accountable. If not, suspect you will have major issues later and he won't come to fix... Our builder thought paint was the answer for everything, to include structural issues....
Good Luck > Make the builder accountable!!!
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No you recoat, since the minimum coats were put on in the first place, probably not enough to last anyway recoating is best. I dont think bubbles could be buffed out and actual buffing with the componds wiold make the floor real thin and probably cost even more than a recoat.
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