Refinishing Bellawood flooring, part 2
It was a very difficult process sanding the Bellawood factory finished floor. It was made to last, and we tried several different types of sanding materials. Most of them were worn out within a few passes over the floor. We finally had to use the Norton 24 grit “Red Heat” sanding belt, and were able to finish sanding the floor with that.
After finally removing all the finish from the floor, we continued to sand to remove the microbevels uniformly throughout the floor. This got into a fairly conventional sanding procedure, since we were now working with bare wood, but Brazilian walnut is very hard and the sawdust is quite oily. I believe the actual species was Ipe, but the floor was so colorful and there were so many dissimilar grain patterns throughout the floor, that it looked like a mixed species floor, and it may have been.
So we sanded and refinished all the floors, both the old and the new version of Bellawood. This was a total of 1800 square feet. The older part of the floor was a little easier. The manufacturer has definitely made the newer version harder to remove. We finished the floors with Rubio Monocoat “Pure” hardened oil. This provided the homeowner with a fabulous-looking floor, but at a high price. By the time we were done we had used $650 worth of sandpaper getting the floors to 120 grit, and 112 hours of labor with two belt sanders and two edgers on the job.
I have always contended that a floor finish needs to be durable and easy to maintain, but not bullet-proof. Most floors need refinishing every 20 to 25 years regardless of the finish used on them. But most of the new finishes do not wear out, it is the wood that suffers over time, not so much the finish. The Bellawood floors in this home were sun-faded, there were some pretty large gaps between boards, and some “crowning” and some “cupping” of the boards.
Refinishing a floor should not require such extreme effort. Homeowners who think that a 50 or 100 year finish is going to give them a floor that will never need attention would be well advised to think about it. Just as there are probably automobile finishes that will last 100 years, consider whether the car itself will last that long.
The next time we are asked to refinish a Bellawood floor we will decline. Even though we and the owner were happy with our end result, it turned out to be difficult, much too expensive, and not a lot of fun.
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