In our continuing quest for floor sanding options, we had two more contractors come in for an estimate in hopes of finding a midway point between the previous bids. Both of the companies that came in were top-rated on Angie's List, with what seemed like reasonable prices and lots of A+ reviews.
We liked the first guy quite a lot; he seemed to know his stuff and answered all our questions. He was here for about 15 minutes, and gave us a quote that seemed pretty decent. We liked that he could provide that on spot without having to go back to his office and crunch numbers.
The second guy provided more of a "presentation," explaining a bit about the sanding process and what we can expect as a result. He even had this nifty little laser tool for measuring rooms, rather than a standard tape measurer. (I have got to get one of those!) He brought a color chart, and based on the samples, I think we like the DriFast Special Walnut by Bona. It's an oil-modified quick drying stain. It's not too dark, not to light, and has a reddish cast to it.
This contractor also discouraged us from doing too much. The floors in the upstairs unit had been recently sanded by the Previous Owners, but we're not particularly happy with the results. He cautioned us that there is a limited number of times you can resand floors, so if we can live with it, that's what he would recommend, thus saving us some money. But he did also say he could probably buff those floors rather than fully sand them, and stain them a color we want rather than the yellowish color it is now. We'll most likely do that; as we will have to rip out the remaining carpet in the bedrooms and sand those rooms, I'd like all the floors to all match.
Most contractors have recommended doing only two coats of polyurethane, and this guy was no different. When we asked about a third coat, explaining that we have a dog and will soon have cats, too, he said he could do it, but it would not be the best use of our money. Then he told us that the stain coat is a sealant coat, and that the more top coats you have, the easier it will be to detect traffic patterns over time, as it will wear much differently. He said the coats are good for only 5 to 7 years anyway, and that we can always just buff the surface and reapply extra layers when we felt it was necessary. He was the only contractor to tell us that.
He did seem a bit concerned about the damaged floorboards in the downstairs dining room. He asked permission to lift one out to inspect the damage, thinking that it was termites. (Yikes!) It's only a few boards, and they look almost dry rotted. He was able to break a piece out pretty easily. He kept asking us if we had had the building inspected before purchasing it, which of course we had, and by someone who knows termites pretty well. I'm not sure what caused the damage, but I doubt it was insects. The building is solid brick, the foundation is concrete for 2/3 with brick above the ground, where the basement windows are. There's no exposed wood, and these floorboards are in the center of the house. Even so, after the contractor left we went into the basement to examine it from below. The great thing about the Box House is that much of its bones are visible or easily accessible. We pulled aside some of the ceiling panels in the basement and looked at the underside of the floor from below. Nothing.
So, now we're waiting for the last guy's quote to roll in, and will hopefully be able to make a decision by Monday.