We recently bought a house that has white oak hardwood floors. The floors looked decent in some places, while others were REALLY scratched. I don't even know how someone would scratch them that bad. It looks like someone dragged a piano across the floor.

We got some flooring people to come in and they basically told us that the floors would look like new after they were done. Thus, our expectations were that the floors would look near-flawless.

After they finished the work, we were pleased. The huge scratches are completely gone and the new stain color looks great. What we do see now is other, smaller scratches. We also see nails in the wood that we didn't see before. Some of the wood doesn't meet evenly and there are small gaps, which they filled in with wood putty. The floor guy said that the reason these things show up more now is that we used a darker stain and it highlights the imperfections more.

They said that they can resand and fill gaps all they want, but since the floors aren't new there will always be some imperfections. They cant do much about the nails because they were in the wood from when the floors were originally put in.

We have been telling them that we want the floors to look better, but I don't want to keep pushing for something that isn't realistic. Can nails be hidden? Can gaps be filled without it being too obvious? Are we being unrealistic?

1 Answer 1


All can be solved with money. Of course, at certain point it becomes cheaper to buy a brand new floor than keep fussing with an old one.

Nails become more visible after you sand a floor down. You can sink the nails by using a nail punch and then fill in the hole with a putty, but the putty has to matched to the color of the wood which is non-trivial. Sometimes nails will stain the wood, so you need to bore into the wood and make a larger filling. Also, you then need to redo the finish on top of this afterwards.

When a floor does not lie flat, usually that is because the joists below are not perfectly level. Sometimes this can be corrected by inserting shims between the joists and the floor boards if they are accessible (like in a basement), but it is tricky to do it. Ideally you make sure the joists are perfectly flat BEFORE you lay the floor down, and you use a subfloor.

In all honesty, the refinisher probably did all that was reasonable to do for the kind of money involved.

  • 1
    The price is right. We are paying about $2.75/sqft. They said that they could punch the nails in further and fill it with putty, but they did it with a few nails and it didn't look that great. We have a crawl space but I don't think you can get to the floor from down there. I don't think its worth paying extra to get the few things resolved. I appreciate your answer, though. That's pretty much what I expected. Yeah we could dump more money in to it, but at some point its not worth it anymore.
    – bsayegh
    Commented Mar 12, 2015 at 19:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.