Home Improvement : Wood Floors Regain Some Past Popularity

A hardwood flooring expert has to be prepared for virtually anything, according to George Barnes, owner of Mr. Build Sierra Hardwood Floor Co.

For instance, he recently was refinishing the floors of a house in the hills of Encino. The owners had ripped up the old wall-to-wall carpeting in preparation for Barnes--doing him a favor, or saving some money--take your choice. As he was operating his power sander, a nail that had been left behind tore the sanding belt to shreds.

In a corner of the same room, Barnes discovered that a decade of dog urine seeping through the carpet had permanently discolored the hardwood floor. The boards will have to be replaced.

Another day in the life of a floor man.

Despite the widespread use of concrete slabs rather than traditional foundations, wood floors have not disappeared: There are hundreds of thousands of houses around with wood floors and many owners are adding them to existing houses during the remodeling process, Barnes said.

"I would estimate that 60% of the houses in the San Fernando Valley have hardwood floors," he said. His firm is located at 7943 Haskell Ave., Van Nuys. "Until 1960 or so, when the city of Los Angeles approved the use of slab-on-grade construction, even the most inexpensive tract house was built over a crawl space with oak or maple flooring in the bedrooms and living room."

Much of his time is spent refinishing and maintaining residential and commercial wood floors. He charges about $15 a square yard--about the same as the cost of new carpeting--for completely sanding, restaining and coating a hardwood floor with tough polyurethane finish. Putting in new boards to match the stained or damaged ones is another specialty offered by Barnes.

"Most hardwood floors are oak, but some are maple and we can even put in a walnut floor if you have the money," he said. He carries these woods in a variety of patterns, including block parquet and distressed flooring.

Those who say you can't take it with you haven't heard about the proprietor of a Canoga Park dance studio who lost her lease: She took her hardwood floor with her to the new location. She wasn't about to lose her original investment and the cost of having Barnes refinish the floor.

Spring classes are beginning at two major owner-builder units in the greater Los Angeles area, Owner Builder Services, P. O. Box 3517, Alhambra 91803, and Owner Builder Center, 1516 5th St., Berkeley 94710. The latter organization begins its latest round of classes at Los Angeles Trade Tech College Monday and Los Angeles Southwest College Tuesday. Information can be obtained from the center or the colleges.

A. T. Horsfall of Owner Builder Services conducts classes at the 442nd Memorial Hall, 1438 Oak St. (just north of Venice Boulevard near the Convention Center) and at 417 Newton Ave., San Fernando. Students in the classes are building two houses at the San Fernando location, Horsfall said.

Bill Peterson will conduct a free kitchen remodeling seminar at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Bay Cities Auditorium, 1302 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica.

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