How to Clean Hardwood Floor
April 19, 2005 9:26 PM   Subscribe

I just moved in to newly built condo... I have spent a lot of money to option IN for SHAW Brazilian Cherry Hardwood floor..(100% covered 1300sq.ft (according to my research it maybe engineered Durashield coated ones like most hardwood floors now days)... Just before I moved in I saw a builder employee cleaning the floor.. He told me he is using PINE-SOL type cleaner... It did look shiny at first.... But I have been here for 3weeks now... The white films would not go away... even now my socks are yellowish oil all over when ever i step one or two steps.... foot marks are eveywhere... now it looks dusty and smudged all over... (there is no dust... but looks dusty with smudges).... I tried to clean it off with No-Was Bruce hardwood cleaner.... No luck... I tried little bit of water in the corner with about 5 small towels... it finally came off (it took me about 1 hour to do 6sq.ft..) it was very hard work.... I contacted the manufacturer.. they said NO oil based cleaner or wax should be used on these.. especially Pine-Sol and Pledge.... They said It was coated like clear coats in new cars..never needing wax... so basically putting pine-sol on these type of floor is like spraying Armor-All on paint of new car....At least new car can be washed off with a lot of water and soap...

Now I am very UPSET with this situation... I can not move in my new furnitures....I won't... supposely beautiful dark floor is now ruined.... What can I do to clean this... I do not put any more water on this since it may kill the warranty.. especially it bubbles up (possible since bottom layer is still normal wood)..... This is totally the builder's responsibility isn't it...? what can i do to rectify this? I don't think they will replace the whole house's floor.. Can they carefully clean up like i did with the corner...? What would be the legal course... if the builder says it is my responsibility since I signed paper before it was pined on via one of their workers...? Every time I come home...I can't stop my self from getting mad.... I told the builder.. he says he would ask the woodfloor people.. but it didn't sound promising... I was hoping for...."We will get some guys to clean it up for you.. or We will pay for the damages..."
posted by curiousleo to Home & Garden (25 answers total)
It sounds as if the builder has contracted out this portion of the work on the condo and is trying to absolve himself/herself of any or all responsibility of this choice in contractors.

That being said, read your contract with the builder carefully, or even get a lawyer to look it over. There may be some actionable options within the contract that will make the builder (or their subcontractors) liable for any possible problems related to work on your property.

However (and I'm sorry to say this) it does sound like your builder is trying to pass the buck on who is culpable for the damage (or poor work) done in this situation, so I am not (personally) optimistic about a positive outcome to this situation.

As to a "solution" to your current problem (if it cannot be negotiated through your builder or floor contractor) is that, in a lot of situations, your only recourse may be to sand off the top layer of your floor to remove the contamination and then reseal it (properly). However, this is based on my limited experience with hardwood floor treatment, so please check with an expert (a non-biased expert) prior to making any drastic changes to your floor.
posted by purephase at 10:01 PM on April 19, 2005

Thanks for the quick reply... Seriously I couldn't even sleep after looking the faded look floor....
I will check the contract as you suggested... and as far as sanding off.. I don't think it is wise... since only few mm of it is actual brazilian cherry wood.... beside.. this house is brand new.... I may seriously look at legal course... but... I am also very busy with work.. and this was my first house and my entire savings... I thought I will enjoy my life as soon as I move in.. but... I can't believe this is happening... I waited about 2days for any kind of answer.. nothing yet... Even if it is legally my problem, Do any one think it will be so unreasonable to have the builder hire some people to clean this up carefully by hand... i assume it would take no more than a day with two or three people...The workers are still building last few condos next door......
posted by curiousleo at 10:15 PM on April 19, 2005

Is the builder the same person that sold the condo to you?
posted by Monday at 10:39 PM on April 19, 2005

I believe X was seller... Y was Builder and Z was Floor Contractor... As far as I can tell the guy who put the pine sol was Y-Builder's employee....Who was also the guy who gave me the keys to the house the first time.. and made me sign papers after i inspected the condo an hour before closing.... You see... Z-the floor people were all finished and gone by then.. They sort a broomed the place...(maybe they new that it wasn't suppose to be oiled)...anyways.. the Pine-Sol guy(Y) assume that this is was fine... (probably the floor people did't warn him)... As far as I know.. a friend of mine who bought the exact same condo next door had same problem with his kitchen only hardwood floor.. except he had lighter color and didn't notice it much... He said the oil build up was problem due to the pine sol (probably the same guy put this on )......My friend said it took him about a month before he got rid of all the oil off the floor...... BUT his hardwood space is very small compare to my entire house flooring... and my colors are much darker .. which worsen the visual problem.... When i invited few of my friends after trying to clean up for an hour or more... They thought my floor was still not finished building due to all the smudges and dusty look....
posted by curiousleo at 10:47 PM on April 19, 2005

By the way it is one of the largest builder and seller in the country.... well... it is BRUCE builder....They seemed very organized and planned through out the buidling process..
posted by curiousleo at 10:49 PM on April 19, 2005

This is exactly why god made lawyers. Get one immediately. It will do wonders for your relationship for the builder, guaranteed.
posted by mediareport at 10:52 PM on April 19, 2005

Yep, builders have razor thin profit margins and just going to court could eradicate any profit they had.
posted by Monday at 10:54 PM on April 19, 2005

Either you can hold the builder legally responsible or not - nobody here is going to be able to tell you how.

But it sounds to me like what you NEED is to get your fucked-up floor fixed. Personally I think trusting the builder to take care of this would be a terrible idea. Even though it is their responsibility, they could very well screw it up, do something to blow the warranty as you alluded to, or (most likely) do a half-assed, inadequate job and then refuse to deal with you any more because they "took care of it." Consider your experience up to this point and ask yourself what the most important outcome you want is - I suspect it is getting your home in the condition that will make you happy.

As it stands this is clearly really bothering you (with good justification) and this is making what should be a happy and positive time a stressful and angry one instead.

My advice: determine the best course to restore the floor to it's original condition and make it happen yourself as soon as possible. I would start by presenting the situation exactly as it happened to the manufacturer and/or installer and soliciting their exact advice on how to restore the floor. If these avenues don't work start shopping for hardwood floor experts. A lot of people don't get the nuances of caring for these modern coatings so I suspect the good news will be that the experts will know what to do to fix it right. Then, if the builder will not take quick action to implement the solution, hire the appropriate individuals yourself to get it done. Along the way keep the builder informed of what you are doing, so if he wants to step up and take it over he can, but the critical thing is that YOU stay in charge, because that is the only way to make sure it gets done fast and gets done right. For heaven's sake don't go for the solution of having a bunch of minimum wage drones come in to "fix" your expensive floor. God only knows what they'll do to it.

After it's fixed you can focus on trying to get the builder to pay for doing the damage in the first place. This may or may not work out - depends on how honest the builder is and (if the answer is not very) how far you're willing to go to try to force the issue. If it doesn't work out in your favor, it will make you angry. You will stretch out on your once-again beautiful wood floor and beat your head, legs, and fists against it. But at least you'll be able to move in your furniture.

The bottom line is whatever the cost is will be small in comparison to the amount you've spent overall on the condo. The most important thing right now is to take control of the situation so that you stop having that helpless feeling of having been fucked over in something that is so important to you. Good luck.
posted by nanojath at 11:06 PM on April 19, 2005

I'm an independent contractor and nothing will get my attention faster than going after my CCB (state contractor board) licence. We are all BONDED and INSURED for things like this. Talk to a lawyer and go after his CCB licence.
posted by alteredcarbon at 11:12 PM on April 19, 2005

determine the best course to restore the floor to it's original condition and make it happen yourself as soon as possible

AFTER you talk to a lawyer.
posted by mediareport at 11:37 PM on April 19, 2005

I think nanojath is right on the money... Thank goodness... I finally have some outlet to channel my frustration.. and get some decent feedback.... I am new to this place and I didn't know what to do......
Starting tomorrow i am taking charge...
Although screwing the builder's rep via CCB may be another option... but the sales guy who is still in the model house ... actually lives in same complex... I do not want to make enemies in this early stage.... beside he really wasn't at fault.... Up to this point every one was very nice.... so.. i will wait on that CCB thing...

But as suggest... i am going to make this experience the way it should be.. "being happy".... thanks for all your support... i will try to update what is happening...

thanks all..

p.s. i would still like to get more resloutions from any one who knows more about this type of floor..... cleaning.. maintaing etc... thanks...
posted by curiousleo at 11:59 PM on April 19, 2005

One off(ish)topic suggestion curiousleo.....write a short succinct question for the front page and then use the extended more inside field for the rest. The front page of the green only holds a certain amount and if the original question is easily understood.....more people will likely take the time/trouble to venture inside and perhaps post a response.
I know it all worked out ok's just a 'thing' that helps people trawling to identify questions of interest/expertise more easily. We all scan.
posted by peacay at 1:31 AM on April 20, 2005

And please...consider never using...eclipses this manner. I hope your floor gets fixed, but this is painful to read.
posted by fixedgear at 2:29 AM on April 20, 2005

This is just a guess, so check with an expert, but I wonder if water and a floor buffing machine would speed up the pinesol removal process, provided the floor buffer had felt pads?

caveat: Learn how to steer one of those things first, because if they catch on the floor they'll veer into your wall or furniture, and those suckers are heavy.

[/once destroyed a bathroom stall with a floor machine]
posted by mecran01 at 5:04 AM on April 20, 2005

peacay and fixedgear, sorry for the misuse. I am a newbee in this forum, and still learning the ropes. I will try to be careful from now on.

I wonder if the buffing machine will damage the floor finish too. The big question is water. So far, the damp cloth I used for the corner didn't seem to damage anything yet. Or, would the damage show up even after few days? hmm...
posted by curiousleo at 6:09 AM on April 20, 2005

Or, would the [water] damage show up even after few days? hmm...

I am not a flooring guy, but likely not. Water damage from topical application will show up in minutes or hours. If the floor surface remains dry, and assuming there's no source of water below, you likely did not damage the floor. You should most definitely talk to the flooring manufacturer though---they may be the holders of your warantee and may require certain floor treatments to be applied.
posted by bonehead at 6:31 AM on April 20, 2005

I've been through a situation where an employee of a contractor damaged a very expensive special order item. I'll second (sort of) what alteredcarbon said above -- contractors are insured for this very reason. In our situation, we just said "Look, I could do this by talking to a lawyer, but here are the facts for you first. What do you want us to do?" and they took care of it in a quick and professional manner.

The key was that we knew all our facts up front: The date the damage took place and a general ID on the employee who caused the damage; the information on how to repair/replace the damaged item, and the cost to repair/replace. They key seemed to be that we didn't make the contractor do the research -- we had all the research in hand.

Good Luck.
posted by anastasiav at 6:55 AM on April 20, 2005

IANA Flooring Expert.

Seems to me, though, that most top-end woods are using a UV-cured polyurethane finish that wears like iron and non-reactive to most everything.

Seems to me that Pine-Sol residue could be removed using a quick-evaporating petroleum cleaner. Lighter fluid, varsol, and the like. Also, it's like that the citrus-based cleansers, Simple Green, and other such detergents would also do the trick.

I'm not sure I'd want to do 1300ft of flooring on my hands and knees breathing in lighter fluid fumes. It would be one helluva fire risk! You'd have to rent big-ass blowers to clear the air continuously.

With the non-flammables, though, a felt-padded buffer machine and a pressure-spray wand to mist out the cleaner (so that you're never buffing dry floor) might cut through the problem pretty quick.

On the other hand, I could be *completely* out to lunch, and you should probably not take my advice on this matter.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:59 AM on April 20, 2005

Kind of on five fresh fish's wavelength - I was wondering if a mild solution of vinegar and water would help. Of course, any experimenting should be done in a place where it's not very visible (a closet or something like that).

I'm not a flooring expert - experiment at your own risk.
posted by deborah at 9:44 AM on April 20, 2005

curiousleo: You only have to press the period key once after you finish a sentence.
posted by grouse at 10:20 AM on April 20, 2005

Some very good advice on floor cleaning.. I think I may try that vinegal and water method.... If possible I going to demand the workers to do it under my supervision... with written promise that any damamge afterward would be builder's responsibility. Well, I guess I can ask.

"......." hmm I think it is a habit... I sort of talk that way to.
I will try to fix that for my own good also.

Thanks. grouse
posted by curiousleo at 11:31 AM on April 20, 2005

I work for a builder, and I would suggest that you should not do anything to the floor yourself. Document the situation - take photos, and write down the dates when each thing occurred, who said what, etc.

Then, call the salesperson who sold you the condo, and ask them when your warranty inspections are scheduled. If you don't have a scheduled 30 day warranty inspection coming soon, call the builder's warranty department and ask them to come to look at the floor.

Stay calm. Explain exactly what happened, and why you are unhappy. Ask them what they can do to solve the problem.

Then, if you are not satisfied with their response, hire a lawyer. The lawyer will need all of that documentation to proceed.
posted by tizzie at 1:40 PM on April 20, 2005

if the CCB is anything like the NFRC (national federation of roofing contractors - a professional group that many companies in the uk roofing industry belong to) then going to them isn't just about "ruining reputations". they will have an arbitration procedure that involves an independent expert assessing the damage and, if necessary, specifying what needs to be done to fix the problem.

even if the CCB isn't like that, you may find that the builder does belong to a similar industry body. such bodies are run by people who care about doing a good job and whose job it is to help in situations like this.
posted by andrew cooke at 1:55 PM on April 20, 2005

I would suggest that you should not do anything to the floor yourself

That's exactly what I was trying to suggest above. curiousleo, I got conflicting messages from your posts in this thread; it seemed a bit of a contradiction to be simultaneously asking for the best way to immediately address the floor situation while also asking for the best way to ensure that the folks responsible pay for it. If you want to make sure you get financial reimbursement for your trouble, DO NOT do anything further to the floor until you've spoken to a lawyer and THEN attempted a reasonable discussion with the builder.
posted by mediareport at 8:28 PM on April 20, 2005

Well, The builder is sending two people over with a bag full of rags finally... We will see what happens.
posted by curiousleo at 11:08 AM on April 28, 2005

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