Taking the toxins out of floor refinishing

BOULDER — Skills learned from past job experience give a leg-up when an employee decides to break out and become an employer.

In the case of Shane Neven, it was seeing the negative results that can take place when a company grows.

“It’s an advantage that I’ve worked for others and seen their processes and what’s gotten them into trouble,” he said. “Customer service seems to be the one thing that can go by the wayside.”

To help his “green” floor-refinishing company, Artisan Roots Hardwoods LLC, dodge the potential problem, he keeps communication at the top of his to-do list.

“People want to know what’s going on in their homes and what’s being put on their floors.  It’s very challenging for homeowners.”

To keep them in the loop Neven provides clients with daily progress reports and photos and videos.  He starts each job with an extensive consultation that reviews the entire project, recommendations and schedule.

“We’re homeowners and consumers, too,” Robyn Krueger, co-owner added. “This is the second-largest investment people make in their home.”

Krueger and Neven, who are both life and business partners, launched the company in May 2013.
“Our main goal is to educate consumers and change the footprint of this industry,” Neven said.
Artisan Roots Hardware was chosen by Bona AB to represent them in this region. Bona, based in Sweden with operations in the United States, offers floor-care products with the environment in mind.

“It’s a very prestigious honor,” Krueger said.  “They investigated our references and showed up at our job sites.”

Bona’s equipment provides a 100 percent dustless process and water-born products.  According to the company, it promotes the highest standards possible within the hardwood industry.
“Shane went through rigorous training and testing to become BONA certified,” Krueger added.
“We use Bona processes and products because there are no toxins and no formaldehyde used,” Neven said. “Many people still use toxic finishes that make it so they can’t go back into their homes for days.

“What they don’t realize is after that, when you walk on the floor it breaks off particles that go into the air.”

As part of the education he provides customers, Neven clarifies misunderstandings. “For example, people think that bamboo is green, but traditionally when you get to the place where it’s ready to be put in, it’s been processed to the point where there’s nothing green about it,” he said.

“It’s dried with formaldehyde so when you put a sander on it, all the toxins are exposed.”

In addition to using green processes and products, being certified by BONA sets Neven apart from his competition is other ways.

“The hardwood floor industry is not a licensed trade.  Anyone with a sander can say they’ll do the job,” he warned.

“BONA will actually warranty my work.”

Artisan Roots Hardwoods installs, sands and finishes, restores and repairs hardwood floors. It is paired with a lumber company that provides handcrafted wood for floors and follows the same principles it follows.

Sustainable Lumber Co. in Montana is also a family-owned operation. It employs local Mennonite artisans to create one-of-a-kind, handcrafted wood.

All of the company’s lumber comes from Montana from reclaimed wood, dead standing timber and SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative) certified.  All leftovers are used in an outdoor wood burning furnace to kiln dry the wood.

“We wanted a true made-in-America product, and Sustainable Lumber’s entire location is fully self-sustainable by hard-working hands,” Neven said, adding that the each board is handled at least 12 times at the company to assure quality.

The benefit of kiln drying is that it stabilizes the wood.

“Wood is like a sponge — it swells when it’s wet and shrinks when it’s heated,” Neven said.

If not kiln dried, wood can shrink about one-eighth of an inch when the heater is turned on and it will never re-expand.

To side step having to store inventory, Artisan Roots Hardwoods has its made-to-order lumber drop shipped to every clients’ door.

The cost for standard size red oak to be installed, sanded and given a water-born finish is about $1,200 per 100 square feet.