NOTE: This post was written primarily as a form of therapy to help me cope with what turned out to be an unfortunate business relationship that caused me to flip my lid. Read with caution.I apologize for the passive anger fueling this post.
Regular readers will recall that we hired The Floor Guy to refinish our floors a while back. For the most part, we were happy with him and the final product, but there were also several things that we were disappointed with. In particular, there was one thing The Floor Guy did that was completely asinine (to quote The Roof Guy).
Back when we were still trying to figure out if the floor was worthy of restoration, one thing I was particularly worried about was all of the holes in the floor from the old radiator pipes. In total, there were six holes, each about 1.5 inches in diameter that would need to be repaired.
When The Floor Guy came over, I asked him about the holes and how he planned to fix them.
“I’ll stick a tree branch in them.”
Say what? A tree branch?
The Floor Guy was proposing to fix them by sticking a tree branch in them, apparently.
In hindsight, this should have been a huge red flag. And it was, I guess. I was skeptical from the beginning about “sticking a tree branch in it.” But I knew from googling around that it’s common to use tapered plugs that you jam into the hole and then sand until they’re flush with the floor. And so when The Floor Guy proposed doing virtually the same thing but with a tree branch, well, I just assumed he knew what he was talking about. He said it with such confidence.
I knew something was wrong, however, when he had finished sanding and hadn’t filled the holes, yet. I was curious how he was planning on making sure that the plugs would end up flush with the finished floor. Still, I was pretty darn impressed with the sanding he’d done, and he hadn’t yet given me reason to doubt that he knew what he was doing.
The problem became more apparent as work progressed, however. I came home one day to find that he had plugged the holes, but half of them looked like this:
In case it’s hard to tell from the photo, the plug has sunk about a half inch below the level of the finished floor. None of the plugs he used fit tightly in the holes. The Floor Guy had attempted to glue them in place, but it didn’t work because the gaps around the edges of the plugs were too big. With hardly any effort, it was simple to push the plugs straight down through the floor into the basement.
I pointed that out to the floor guy and indicated that I thought the plugs needed to be supported from underneath, and he assured me he’d fix it. Later, he told me he’d fixed it (“I used tons of Gorilla Glue this time!”), but again, when placing hardly any pressure on the plugs, they fell right through. And he hadn’t even tried to fix several of the other plugs.
So then we had to have an uncomfortable conversation, which I’ll quickly paraphrase:
“Gluing them in place isn’t working. I think the plugs need to be supported from underneath.”
“No, they’re fine. They won’t fall out.”
“Yes they will. One of them already has and the rest will fall out as soon as someone sets a chair leg down on them.”
“Well don’t put a chair leg on it.”
“The plugs are too small. They don’t fit tightly in the holes.”
“They were tight when I put them in, they shrunk because I used a branch from a live tree.”
“You told me you’d done this before. Shouldn’t you have anticipated that?”
“Well I’m only charging you $10 to fix the holes… What else do you want? We spent a long time trying to get the Gorilla Glue in there. I’ll fix it when I come back to install the kitchen threshold in a couple days.”
“You’re an asshat. Get out of my house and don’t come back.”
Ok, I didn’t actually say the last one, but I wanted to. The truth is that I had already paid the guy, so he had little reason to care about whether he’d done a good job. And he did still have to come back one last time to do one more thing.
After this conversation, it became clear than he and I had very different ideas about quality. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a total hack. I do a half-assed job at a lot of our home improvement projects, but this guy is making me look like Bob Vila! If this was representative of The Floor Guy’s hole-fixing skills, I wasn’t sure I wanted him to try again, especially since all he was talking about was “more Gorilla Glue.” It became clear to me that even if I fought with the guy to make him try to fix it a third time, I wasn’t going to be happy with whatever he came up with.
I didn’t actually mind that the plugs weren’t tight in the holes. The old floor is full of gaps and cracks, so it’s really not a big deal if the plugs aren’t totally snug. I just didn’t want them falling through the floor into the basement the first time somebody looked at them wrong. Is that too much to ask? If the plugs aren’t going to be snug in the holes, I felt pretty strongly that they needed to be supported from underneath somehow. So I had to fix it myself, which was annoying since I had already paid him to do it.
The first step was to remove all the old plugs, which wasn’t hard at all since they were falling out on their own anyway. Here’s a couple photos of one of the plugs, which The Floor Guy had attempted to support from underneath with a crumpled up piece of paper and duct tape:
Here’s a photo of one of the other plugs looking up from the basement:
Yes, that’s an 8 inch tree branch sticking through the subfloor into the basement. Am I the only one that thinks this is asinine?
Providing modest support from beneath was easy. I just screwed a piece of plywood onto the underside of the subfloor across the holes. Nothing complicated here. It just has to be strong enough that the plugs don’t have to defy gravity to stay in place.
Once all the holes had a bottom on them (i.e. they weren’t just gaping holes straight into the basement), it was easy to cut the 8 inch tree branch plugs down to the right height and glue them into place again. Here’s what one of them looked like when I was done:
The worst part is that this has left me with a sour taste in my mouth about the whole experience. The Floor Guy was recommended by a friend, who has hired him several times in the past and had good experiences each time. The Floor Guy was nice enough, and responded quickly to most of my requests. In addition I was quite satisfied with the rest of the work performed by The Floor Guy. Overall, I think the floors look great. Still, it is unlikely that I would recommend The Floor Guy to a friend in the future.
What do you think, readers? Am I an unreasonable customer, or am I getting exactly what I paid for from a guy who proposed to “stick a tree branch in it” for $10?