A couple of weeks ago a friend asked if I could sand and polyurethane his floor. I said sure I can.
I did it a couple of times before, a very long time ago, in 1979 I think. Two floors, one in Inwood, one in Brooklyn.
I’ve polyurethaned a lot of floors during my brief stint as a handyman at 144, and even sanded out scratches and damage in small spots on floors there. I got to polyurethane the floors because the cheap management company didn’t want to spend the money for a pro to do it.
It’s ok, I gained a lot of experience and expertise in doing it, and it helped when my friend asked if I could do his floor; I was able to say yes without any hesitation.
I was asked to hang a pot rack a little over a month ago, and I’ve done that in my own home so I said no problem. I had my box of wall fasteners and was all set to do it, but when I arrived at the client’s apartment he had a huge commercial kitchen shelf/rack made of stainless steel that weighed about 35 pounds. I had to go to the hardware store to get 2-inch lag bolts and sleeves to make sure this thing did not fall off of the wall.
Luckily it was a cinderblock and plaster wall and it’s still up, I know because I did another job for the same fellow this week and he had all the stuff on the rack.
Here’s the pic:
Of course after I left the day I installed it, I kept expecting a call that it had fallen down off the wall, or that his wife came home to say it was too high, or too low, or crooked.
I don’t know why, but I’m always plagued by self-doubt.
Of course, I have had stuff like that happen before, a shelf came off the wall, a light fixture cover that I didn’t tighten properly fell down, etc. But in all, my work gets done right and people are satisfied. But the feeling of doubt still creeps in after every job. I’m going to have to get over it.
The floor I was pretty confident of doing, though. After all, nothing was going to fall down or catch on fire because I’d wired something wrong. (That’s never happened to me but I’m still waiting) The worst I could have done would have been to leave some big gouges on the floor because I didn’t move the sander around in even strokes.
I told my friend that I could sand the floor, but we were going to have to rent the equipment from Home Depot. We settled on going to Home Depot Tuesday morning at 7am. Tuesday was a rainy, miserable day, but good for floor sanding because the humid air keeps the dust down.
We got to Home Depot and rented the big drum sander (100 pounds) and the edger. (35 pounds)
We went to his place and moved everything out of the living room/dining room area, which was about 400 square feet. I did two passes with the rough grit sandpaper and two passes with the fine grit. Then I did the edging.
If you want a good biceps workout, get a job as an edger. The machine weighs 35 pounds, as I mentioned before, and it also pulls to the left because of the torque from the motor. You have to work very hard to keep it in the right place on the floor, and you have to either do it on your knees or squat. I did a combination of both, and either way it kills your back. I don’t think I could do it every day.
When we were done we vacuumed and mopped and loaded all the stuff into his car for the long trip back up to the Bronx Terminal Market Home Depot.
We returned the equipment and bought the polyurethane and applicator. I suggested water-based poly as it dries faster and doesn’t smell as bad.
The next day I came down to his apartment and laid down a couple of coats of the poly after taking care of the corners the edger couldn’t reach with my Dremel sander.
It only took a couple of hours including the drying time, and the floor looked great after we were done. It’s about ten shades lighter than it was, and now it has a nice glossy finish. I saw a picture he posted on Facebook, and it looked even glossier. He said he’d put down two more coats after I left, producing feelings of self-doubt and guilt. Should I have done it? Should I have suggested it? I don’t remember why we decided on two coats, but we read the directions together and the directions suggest FIVE coats.
But he didn’t call to complain, so I guess it’s OK. But I know that it’s OK to worry a little about doing it right, because it keeps me focused on not making mistakes. Mistakes are Ok too because I always learn from them. There’ll be no more improperly screwed on light covers falling down, that’s for sure.