Refinishing a small spot on a hardwood floor
September 25, 2010 3:27 PM   Subscribe

We recently moved out of an apartment with hardwood floors. The owner claims there is damage to the floor where we had a desk. He says he needs to "talk to his floor guy" to see how much it will cost to repair, which will then come out of our security deposit. I have no idea how much spot repair runs, and I'd like a general idea so that we can stand our ground in case he comes up with a high estimate.

There was an office chair on that spot, so basically it's a circle on the floor that looks a bit worn - not really major damage. I've googled and found that more or less it's a few dollars a square foot for refinishing. I'm assuming that's for refinishing an entire room, and this is basically a small area, so I'm not really grasping how much that would cost a professional to do. Is there a ballpark figure I should have in my head before we meet up with the owner?
posted by DrGirlfriend to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Take into account that if the floor needs to be re-finished they usually do the whole room to keep it looking even.
posted by atrazine at 3:33 PM on September 25, 2010

One thing to pay attention to is how worn the floor was beforehand. I don't know if you have pictures or anything, but if it wasn't immaculate beforehand you can make the case that they were going to have to do it anyways. I know it's that way with carpet - there is a limited shelf life.
posted by radioamy at 3:44 PM on September 25, 2010

Here's Oregon's Landlord/Tenant laws; you may want to familiarize yourself with the sections pertaining to security deposits and what is considered "normal wear and tear".
posted by bizwank at 4:34 PM on September 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm planning on arguing normal wear and tear...but I'd also like to be better informed about the floors themselves.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 5:11 PM on September 25, 2010

The vast majority of hardwood flooring that goes into apartments is factory finished--urethane baked in with ultraviolet light, aluminum oxide, etc. It's not something an installer can really mess with without it looking different from the surrounding boards. So we're probably talking about the replacement of the affected boards. The owners likely also had the same product installed in many apartments and purchased either contractor-grade plank or a standard retail product that the flooring company purchases in bulk. Assuming all that, and that the landlord doesn't choose to mark up the repair costs to make a profit, you're probably looking at less than 40 for the wood. A lot of pro installers keep unused adhesives and sundries (like half a bucket of glue, or extra pieces of tack strip) from jobs just for small repairs; the only other cost may be the labor. Of course, that's the most variable. The place I work at charges a $90 minimum, but I also live in a city with an extremely low cost of living and comparatively low wages.
Also, if you find out from your landlord what flooring company was used, chances are outstanding that they would be able to tell you exactly what product went into your apartment. Then you can find out all kinds of info on the manufacturer's website about its construction, repair, etc. You can even read about the manufacturer's warranty. Does this flooring company make warranties? They probably do, and would decrease the costs being passed along to you.

Of course, if his 'flooring guy' is his cousin Ed, who bought a truckload of unfinished wood from Unclaimed Freight and nailed it down and varnished it himself, a situation not unheard of, all info I have written here is totally useless.
posted by heatvision at 5:57 PM on September 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Speaking as a former landlord and property manager, this sounds like normal wear and tear. If you fight this (threaten small claims court) you should easily win.
posted by cyndigo at 9:36 PM on September 25, 2010

Thanks for the answers!
posted by DrGirlfriend at 10:22 PM on September 25, 2010

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