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Meet Richard Cotton of RC Hardwood Floors in Metro West

Today we’d like to introduce you to Richard Cotton.

Richard, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was going to Worcester State College and working for my Uncle during the summer. I was making sandwiches at his two sub shops in Waltham, Booze N Bunz and The Sub Factory. A customer came in one day and said, “Why don’t you get a man’s job, instead of making sandwiches like a girl” LOL I asked him, “What do you do?” and he replied, “I do hardwood floors, why don’t you come work with us” And it all began. I worked hard for other companies for almost 10 years. I was 27 years old and asked my boss for yet another raise and he said, “If you get your own equipment, I will pay you by the foot” So I started out buying my own equipment for just installing hardwood floors and I was renting equipment to sand them. It was an uphill battle but I was a young buck and I made it happen! I owe a lot to my wife Renee for the encouragement to go out on my own. She has helped me tremendously! Never calls me when I am working late, never complains about how she has to do my administrative duties now hehehehe. She is a true trooper!! So now I have 4 trucks and 4 guys and a spectacular on line presence with Angie’s List. It’s been over 20 years now and were still going strong!!

Has it been a smooth road?
You know if you do a good job then everything goes smooth. It really has been a smooth road. I didn’t get paid one time and it was a good friend of mine. He was actually going bankrupt. He told me the date to go to court and get my money but I was taking the family to Disney so I couldn’t make it. It was 700 dollars. Not bad for over 20 years in business, right?

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the RC Hardwood Floors story. Tell us more about the business.
We install sand and finish all varieties of hardwood flooring. We do custom borders, inlays, custom designs and stains, whatever the customer may see in a magazine or on line, we can do it! I think what sets us apart is we really do care. Also, unlike any other company we 2 cut new wood. Every other company out there only sands new wood with 60 grit paper and then they buff and put down the first coat. They fill nail holes etc in between coats. Here at RC Hardwood we sand the newly laid floor with 40 grit to insure smoothness. Then we fill in between sandings, not coats of poly. Then we sand with 80 grit. This gives you an overall smoother floor and it protects your filler. I can’t say how many times I’ve seen nail holes on stairs that have turned black. The reason is that the filler went in the holes right before the final coat. So the filler attracts dirt and water and in no time at all you have a black mark. If you fill in between sandings then all your coat of poly, which we do 4 coats standard, are protecting your filler and they stay the color of the wood for years and years to come. Builders do the 2 coat special, standard is 3 coats, we do 4 and in some cases 5!!! I have 6 coats of oil based poly on my floors 😉 The key is to just put down some finish!! And stop skimping. People make the huge mistake by hiring the cheap guy and not putting down the proper amount of finish and then, like 5 years later, they have to sand the floors again because their floors look terrible. Bite the bullet, pay the money and have it done right the first time. Then do proper maintenance, and have the floors buffed and coated periodically. Every 3 to 5 years in high traffic areas, such as kitchens and every 10 to 15 years in the non-traffic areas. It’s just that simple.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I’ve been in this industry for 32 years now. I’ve seen some shifts and changes in the procedures and you see some new trends like, sand less floor refinishing, but the good guys know that nothing ever really changes. You need to sand them down if you want it done right. The finishes like the mono coat and the low voc finishes have given it their best shot for change but I wouldn’t stand behind that. Nothing beats the 4 coats of oil based finish, NOTHING! I don’t do many prefinished floors either. I’ve never met anyone that has had prefinished floors for more than 5 years that still likes them. They like them after they first go in but then they end up hating them. They mostly hate the beveled edges and how the food and dirt get stuck in the cracks. If you go to a store that sells rug, linoleum, tile and they “pretend” to do hardwood, they will push that prefinished stuff on you, but if you talk to a guy like me that specializes in only hardwood flooring, I wouldn’t put prefinished floors in my kid’s fort! LOL Just stick with the unfinished floors, sand them down on site (professionally) and put down some oil based poly!!

Pricing:

  • $9 a foot for 2.25″ oak install sand and finish
  • $3.50 a foot for sand and 4 coats of oil based poly.
  • We also provide a one room minimum of $650 for rooms 200sf and under for sand and finish with 3 coats of oil based polyurethane.

Contact Info:

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