Just when I thought COVID fog had vanished, it showed up in a hardwood floor! OK, maybe not COVID fog, but a fellow flooring contractor texted me that he stained and finished a floor, and the homeowner reported a strange “fog” appearing in the finish. He sent me a few pics. One is above; here are two more:
Note that our floor pro tried lightly sanding and coating over an area, and that was not effective. He thought that if the poly is scuffed, it would blend with more finish, but that didn’t work.
If we learned anything from COVID, it was that most wood floor inspections are possible via email, text, and video conferencing. We switched over to FaceTime on my cell phone so I could get a better look at the situation. I immediately spotted a few things that I found … “odd.” Which leads me to THIS (prepare for a rant) …
When we produce our WFB “All Things Wood Floor” podcast, at the end during our quickfire questions, we like to ask our wood floor guests, “Do you have a wood flooring pet peeve?” Well, this particular flooring anomaly prompted me to ask myself: “Is this my flooring pet peeve?” … because this floor really ticked me off! What’s my pet peeve?! I’m gonna tell you: confirmation bias!
“Confirmation bias” is when someone looks for, supports, recalls, and presents information based on their own prior opinions (also known as myside bias, framing an argument or pushing the narrative). No matter the term, dismissing reasonable thinking removes sound, rational judgment and can lead to faulty decision-making and harmful finger-pointing.
Confirmation or myside bias runs wildly rampant when inspecting or assessing a hardwood flooring claim. When I am trying to do my “fair but firm” schtick and formulate solutions to complex flooring dilemmas, myside bias rears its ugly head, jabbing sticks and branches of contrived, convoluted, unfounded information straight into the bicycle spokes of reason! WHAM! SPLAT! Hell yes, I have a pet peeve!
Look again at the photos of this hardwood floor with the foggy white finish. What caused this? My contractor tells us the floors were fine after completion but soon thereafter, the customer reported these mysterious white patches.
You may be wondering: What do foggy finishes and my rant about cognitive dissonance from confirmation bias have to do with each other? I ask you: Does confirmation bias exist here? If so, why? I’ll offer a clue: Keep in mind that when people have a bias, they may resort to hiding, withholding, or even removing information that would lead others away from rational solutions and closer to their own quaint little myside narrative.
These photos contained enough information to get me on a path to the solution of not only what was wrong with the flooring finish, but also that there may have been some hanky-panky involved. I pose this simple question, floor pros: What happened to this floor? Leave your theories in the comments, and in the next post I’ll tell you what I found out.
See all of Stephen Diggins' Wood Floor Mysteries and more here.