Dear PoP – Wood Floor Restorations

First floor open living space
Photo from PoPville flickr user hipchickindc

“Dear PoP,

Can you ask folks if they have a good historic hardwood floor restorer that they’d recommend? We want to take up the heinous carpet on the top floor of our 1923 rowhouse, and I’m pretty sure there’s some sweet pine underneath. I’d love to have it restored, instead of putting in modern flooring. I can see the pine in the closets where there has never been carpeting, and it would look so great, but I’m sure it’s in bad condition. I’d love to hear other folks’ experience with local companies, I feel like I remember reading that there are some guys doing some really quality work out there.”

26 Comment

  • Elegant Flooring Service. I had areas of missing original pine flooring. They matched the species and took missing spots back so you couldn’t tell there was ever a patch. Oh, and they were cheap too.

  • The nice old wooden floors of your 1923 rowhouse can be ruined by hiring inexperienced sanders and refinishers.

    You’re on the right track by first identifing your type of wood flooring, its thickness, and suitability for sanding and refinishing.

    Captain Lynn or his sons, one of the Lynn brothers at Universal Floors have seen it all after doing the same thing for over 50 years in Washington.

    You don’t want surprises with the good intentions you’re starting out with.

    Flooring is the first impression, the first thing one notices upon first step over the threshold through a doorway in entering a house or any room, but if you’re doing or planning other major interior renovations, flooring should be done last.

    Nice to have floors that shine, for guests and visitors and also for yourself knowing they’re nearly a century old, original to your rowhouse, and your very own legacy to your home.

    Just do it right with whomever you choose. Good luck.

  • Whatever you do, DON’T use DC Floors. I used them b/c they offered the lowest quote, but it was a big mistake on my part. I’ve never had such a bad experience with a home repair/renovation provider. They didn’t even install the flooring in the correct direction that I indicated and it took forever to get them to come back.

    I had a Angies List membership (very worthwhile if you are doing a complete renovation) for a while and Arlandria Floors was ranked near the top. I had them give a quote early on. It was higher, but I wish I’d gone w/ them.

  • Do not use Dominion Floors. They were not the lowest quote, but they effed up our floors anyway.

  • Fa. Bu. Lous work:

    Honest, excellent craftsmen, are there when they say they will, and finish when they say they will. Very fair pricing. (plus a neat story: Abat came to US from Ethiopia 15 years ago and has built this biz from scratch).

  • For such an important project, I really recommend seeing what AngliesList users have to say. Crowd surfing for information is great, but it makes sense to do it in the right place. In many cases, AngiesList gives you thousands of data points (rather than maybe 10 or 20 that you’d get here)so from a statistical standpoint is very reliable. Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think a one month membership can’t be more than 10 bucks.

  • We highly recommend Universal Floors. After we bought our home we had Universal and 3 other companies come out to assess the entire house. Universal really was the only company that seemed to really care that we wanted to keep the original 1895 heart of pine floors and took the time to explain everything, including the different types of wood that was used on the stairs, banister, paneling, molding. It was like a crash course in wood. We felt extremely comfortable with them and they did an incedible job. My jaw still drops when I walk in the door. The before and after was just incredible. We used a mixture of tung oil and love the finish. The company was slightly higher than the other bids, but well worth it. They used the same wood to replace any broken boards and took great care to make sure eveything matched. They are true masters of the craft and have some very heavy hitter recs on their site. Stay away from Dominion. They seem like they could care less about what they do.

  • Another recommendation for Universal Floors. Used them twice, great job and very reasonable pricing.

    By “restoring” you really just mean sanding and refinishing. A good company will also do necessary repairs after they sand.

    Pics (before, during and after) of my most recent job here and PoP post of this (with more comments/suggestions) here. The atrium/entryway was tiled over before – I pulled up the tiles and two layers of linoleum and they sanded the junk off and it turned out gorgeous.

  • We also used Elegant Floors and were pleased with the results. There was a bit of miscommunication in the beginning about the things we decided on, but we were pleased with the job they did. I second using Angie’s List for a project like this–a one month membership to scour the ratings would be well worth it for the money you’re going to spend.

  • Highly recommend Universal Floors. South Lynn and his crew is great.

  • 9 responses and not one with the price.

    So what did you spend?

    In other words: Around how much does it cost to do your average 2 story row house?

  • 9 responses and not one with the price.

    So what did you spend?

    In other words: Around how much does it cost to refinish your average 2 story row house?

  • Mr.Joe Burge refinished my entire house for $3k and that inlcuded laying reclaimed wood in my den that matched the existing floorboards perfectly. His info can be found in the PoP forum section under renovations/wood floor recommendation.

    He is very friendly and is willing to negotiate. My neighbor also had Joe refinish his entire house.

  • Quite a few responses and some good referrals in just the two hours since this was posted.

    Do remember to write back and share with us your results and experiences.

  • I also used Joe Burge. His phone # is in the forum section as Anon 4:34 mentions above. He was friendly, willing to negotiate, and did a great job. We also paid 3k for our entire house (except the kitchen that was ruined from water stains and thick black laminate glue). Our house is 1800 square feet (maybe 1600 without the kitchen). 3k also included the stairwell, which I think can be several hundred itself.

    FYI – Be sure your dog does not leave paw prints on the still wet stain!

  • This is a second for Joe Burge. He does excellent work, and I have seen 4 different projects completed by him. We had the 1st Floor of our rowhome fully refinished, including patching and matching the existing original hardwood in places. $1400
    Joe Burge

  • Yes, this is PoP at its best.

  • Here is what we received from Universal Floors for approximately $5k – Sand and finish natural and appply three coats Waterlox Tung to 1st and 2nd floors
    Sand and finish stair treads, risers and returns if applicable. Repair 5 – 6 2 1/2″ x 3/4 longleaf pine in few areas. Boards are original reclaimed pine flooring. They estimated about 800 sq ft per floor. Like I said before they were slightly more expensive than the other bids, but they were extremely professional and we feel that they even went above and beyond what the contract stated. We will be using them again.

  • I used Angel Floors and was very pleased with their work. Got them off of Angie’s List as others here have recommended. Paid $1150 for 750 sq. foot 1-br refinishing of white oak w/2 coats of oil based poly and new quarter round.

  • Thanks so much for the recommendations everyone! This really is PoP at its best, no one has even called me a greedy gentrifier yet for wanting to fix my place up!

    I think I will be putting the flooring project on hold for a few months as recommended until I have the upstairs bathroom project finished. I’d hate for someone to drag the old bathtub across the just finished floors, and there is still a possibility I will knock down a wall which would really make the floors a wasted effort.

    On that note: Does anyone know of a site that tracks really cool floor plans for your standard DC Wardman? Like, remember this house?

    PoP did a post on it back in March. It is definitely the same model as my house, and I would kill to know how they have that second floor laid out, but my brain just doesn’t work that way. I’m unsure whether to remodel my really ugly bathroom where it is, or knock down a wall and somehow combine it with the awkward ‘dressing area’ that was created when the previous owners bumped out the back wall. I wish I had an architect friend! Let me know if you have any suggestions or recent experiences. And thanks again for the tips on the flooring, I’ll bookmark this for when the time comes.

  • Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I am getting hardwood floors in Feburary and this is an excellnt place for me to start. KUDOS!

  • do it yourself. rent a machine. you will love your floor after that.

  • We used Brother’s and Justice (703) 883-0644. They did a great job and saved our floors which had been jacked up by the attempt to quick flip our H St area house. It was $1300 for them to sand and stain the entire down stairs, our den, and upper hallway. We still have the master bedroom and 2nd bedroom to complete the job. Our house is about 1500 sq ft, but the bathroom and kitchen are tile.

  • I highly recommend Mr. Sandless (

    I removed some very cheap and partially water-damaged laminate wood flooring from the entire upstairs of my H-Street area row home and found solid hardwoods underneath that appeared to be in really bad condition on the surface (lots of paint, dirt, discoloration).

    In just about two hours, they left the floors looking like almost brand new with only some very light sanding to remove a few scratches in the Master bedroom. For the three rooms and hallways upstairs, charge me $850.

    Only downside was there was some pretty severe sun-blanching to the floors in a bedroom with lots of windows, so the coloring is clearly uneven in that room. However, I actually really like to contrast and decided to keep it as opposed to going with a dark stain (which would have cost another $100).

    Overall, I highly recommend them!

  • Prestige floors did ours for a decent price, about 3,500 for the whole house. Good work sanding and staining and replacing a few boards.

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