Intermixing colors to provide homeowners a custom floor is a learned skill.

In my job as a contractor specialist at DuraSeal, I inevitably get a lot of calls from contractors with questions or complaints while they are on a job. Many of these calls start the same way, with the same pride in their voice: "I've been doing wood floors for X number of years and I've never had this problem until now." Oftentimes, what that means is they've been doing it wrong for X number of years but they have been lucky to never have had that problem until now.

This reminds me of something that happened back when I was at my first NWFA School. Frank Kroupa was the lead instructor and he asked me how long I had been doing wood floors. I said, "16 years." He asked, "Have you been doing floors for 16 years or have you been doing the same year 16 times?" It was a really good question and made me question if I had been improving for all of those 16 years or if I had become complacent with the skill set I had already achieved. I decided that the fact that I was at a class after 16 years was evidence that I was still looking to learn more.

When people tell me they "always do it exactly the same way", that also tells me that they aren't adjusting for environmental conditions. When you're staining and finishing, you have to adjust for the temperature and humidity on that specific job.

As contractors, we need to keep in mind that times have changed over the years - from products and techniques (Do you know how to work with reclaimed wood? Create a French bleed look?) to the expectations from the customers. Floors 25 years ago were considered more utilitarian, and typically a lamp in the corner was your sole source of light. Now LED lights rule the day, offering new views of our work. Customers are expecting a flawless surface, so a higher level of work is required. Doing your floors the same way you did them 25 years ago will often leave the customers unhappy with the results. Make sure you're taking advantage of the education available to you so you can improve your skills, no matter how long you've been in the business.

More from Toby Merrill:

Sponsored Blog: The Real Cost of Bad Sanding

Sponsored Blog: This Is What Happens When You Rush a Job

Sponsored Blog: How to Use the Color Wheel to Get the Color You Want

Toby Merrill is contractor specialist for Cleveland-based DuraSeal.