I had an argument once with a guy who tried to tell me, “All floors are the same. You get in, you sand ’em, you coat ’em, and you get out.” But that’s wrong. In fact, the truth is the exact opposite: Every floor is different. You could take a batch of oak flooring and put it in ten different houses and have ten different sets of problems.

I’ve been refinishing wood floors for more than 25 years — up until a couple years ago, when I decided to give my knees a break and retire. I figure I’ve sanded and coated more than 3,000 floors — everything from chicken coops and old storefronts to castles and multi-million-dollar mansions — and each floor has been unique. I came away from...

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