Being a Wood Floor Pro: Copenhagen vs. London

Pavels Sloboda Headshot
Am24 Live Learn Denm Vs London Hed

I saw the article in Wood Floor Business about what wood flooring life is like in Finland, and I thought it might be interesting to share the differences I’ve found in moving from being a wood floor pro in Denmark to working in London. Here are the top things I’ve discovered since I moved to London in 2013.

Wood knowledge: In Denmark, most of the floors are wood, and most of the people know how to deal with that. In London, I often find myself explaining to people that it’s possible to restore existing floors, and it’s not necessary to carpet everything out. In the U.K., they somehow managed to carpet every floor possible ➊.

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Climate: Mold is common in London, but I had never seen it in Copenhagen. Maybe because of that, there aren’t many products like lye (“lud” in Danish) and soap finish, which is a common finish in Denmark ➋.

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In Britain, lye gets a bit green when you apply it, especially in old houses. Houses, of course, are completely different, as well, but pine wood flooring is common in both countries. (In London, it’s covered by the carpet and has not been sanded for 100 years ➌.)

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Repairs: In Copenhagen, I did only sanding and finishing, but here in London I have to fix the floor. Fireplace dismantling and board replacement is quite common in London ➍, and plumbers and electricians usually crack or cut the floorboards to do their job and then carelessly nail or screw them, thinking “the carpet will cover it.” ➎

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Client-worker attitude: This is pretty much the same in both countries, except that everyone offers you tea, coffee or a cold drink here in England. In Copenhagen it wasn’t a necessary thing.

Tools and sanding equipment: These are pretty much the same, except that in London it will usually be a Bona belt sander and edger plus the Festool orbital sander and vacuum, and in Copenhagen everyone uses the Lägler belt sander and edger plus the Festool.

Finish: These are, of course, different except when it comes to Junckers finish, which is everywhere in Europe (here, everyone calls it “lacquer” or “varnish.”) In London, Osmo hardwax oil is very common, while in Copenhagen we used a different (runnier!) one that was imported from the United States.

Stains: Here in London was the first time I tried Morrells stains, which are alcohol-based. I have to say I miss the lye-and-soap finish we did in Copenhagen ❻ .

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Of course, my role here in London changed a lot, so I had to learn how to sell our service. I found I had to explain the processes and how to deal with problems, and also explain what can be done and what result is impossible to reach. Starting up, I also had to deal with company finances and taxes, and I had to learn how to make a website and do digital marketing. And, I had to learn how to drive the van on the left side of the road! 

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All Things Wood Floor, created by Wood Floor Business magazine, talks to interesting wood flooring pros to share knowledge, stories and tips on everything to do with wood flooring, from installation, sanding and finishing to business management.
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