Tell me if this sounds familiar to you, and please feel free to post your thoughts in the comments!

I was helping on small installation for a friend … (Here’s where it gets all wavy like we are going into a dream sequence) ... I can hear the flooring being racked and I can smell the dust from the compound miter saw. @#$%—the compressor kicks on when I least expected it! I am moving hoses, and I just cut a jamb around a closet door. The floor is straight, the setup is perfect, and I am nailing board after board, moving to the music from the radio in the window and then I hear it, like nails on a chalkboard. Just over my shoulder, just loud enough over the annoying compressor and the pop of the pneumatic nailer. “Oh, if I knew it was this easy, we could have done it ourselves. We could have saved a fortune!”

GRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

And you all know what comes next, my friends. “Ooooooh! It’s like a jigsaw puzzle! It’s so simple! Just like a puzzle!”

“Ooooooh! It’s like a jigsaw puzzle! It’s so simple! Just like a puzzle!”

YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME??!?!?!?

How many of you wake up the morning of a wood floor installation and already know (even before your first coffee) where you will snap your first line? You know what room you will start in and what obstacles you will be working around; you know where your compressor, hoses, and tools should be. You literally dreamed the project and knew before you got to the job what needed to be done. And by the way: So did your partner. It is almost a psychic connection!

“It’s so easy…” GRRRRR! Most customers have no idea how many years and how many boards and how many square feet of sanding or installation it took to be able to actually visualize and produce the beautiful floors we do. Oh look! There’s the husband with his Fisher Price tool box and engineering degree nodding the affirmative “yes” as his wife points out how easy our work is and how they should have just done it themselves! Well, that I would like to see!

Try using that thing in the closet. We call ours a “vacuum!”

They certainly aren’t considering some of our challenges and obstacles. Humidity: It messes with your flooring, wilts your abrasives, fouls your finish! Cleanliness: Oh yeah, all customers vacuum three times a day, right? No! We have to deal with dirty hot-air heat systems, pet fur, pine needles from Christmases past. Temperature: There's radiant heat, HVAC, wood stoves, pellet stoves, open windows, no windows, cold snaps, heat waves! “Why is there hair in the finish?” Umm, this is only the sealer coat; we have a lot more to do here. I am not the one with three beagles and two cats! We still have two coats to go, Doctor Doolittle! Try using that thing in the closet. We call ours a “vacuum!”

Guess what, It-Looks-So-Simple People? No matter how easy this looks, no matter how you judge us, we started this project using the Pythagorean theorem and completed it with years of advanced chemistry and craftsmanship—years of knowledge and practice for your simple little jigsaw puzzle! We watched for H joints, staggered our rows, cut our end rows so they could be starter boards to save on waste. We established a line so that after 2,000 square feet from the front of the house to the back we could land perfectly on the walls of three adjacent rooms.

On a refinish you hear, ”You know, we could have rented a sander!” What about a buffer, edger, paper, screens and the fact that the average DIYer has never even turned on a sander? The cost alone is four times what you will pay for materials from a professional distributor. But, they can do what we do because the Google Machine showed them how! We have all worked for someone that couldn’t move one bundle of Brazilian cherry from the driveway to the garage without a having a hernia, and we are humping it two bundles at a time from the driveway to the second floor. Easy? They could do it? No! Let me spell this out plain and simple: We. Make. It. Look. Easy. We speak the same language. We have the time in the trenches, the blisters, splinters, bad knees and bad backs.

Let me spell this out plain and simple: We. Make. It. Look. Easy.

I have worked trade shows where it was like the passersby were speaking a foreign language. “So, whatcha got here, Prego? Hey honey! They got that Prego! (No, not “Pergo”. It’s like they are in the spaghetti aisle.) “What is this? Latex? Pre-fab?” No! It’s hardwood flooring! We call that one ‘red oak!’ It came from a tree!” What language are they speaking? It certainly isn’t “Floor Guy.”

I have done some beautiful floors in my time, but I have almost never been fully satisfied with my work. I am very hard on myself. I expect a lot, but using words like “simple” and “easy” and “jigsaw puzzles” to describe our work—that I don’t agree with. On behalf of wood floor guys everywhere, I challenge any consumer to find a real estate ad that says, “This beautiful home features luxurious wall-to-wall-carpets.” End of story!

Okay, I will shut up now. This year just seemed to start off a bit rougher than most, and my valued customers seem a bit beat down. Does everyone have to have a dark-stained floor this year? Just wanted to give props to all my fellow floor guys and tell you how much I appreciate what you do, how much you know, how hard you work, how brilliant you are, and how much I appreciate the sharing of the knowledge and language of our craft worldwide. Thank you for letting me rant! I need Vitamin “I” (Ibuprofen) and a nap. Have a great and prosperous 2017 and beyond!


Stephen Diggins works for Wood Pro Inc. in their Salem, N.H., branch as manager and training director. He has many years of installation, sanding, finishing, gymnasium design and technical consulting experience, which he uses to assist his flooring customers on a regular basis. With almost 30 years in the flooring industry, he has been a freelance columnist for magazine, newsprint and online medias and has conducted product seminars ranging from wood flooring to luxury vinyl tile.