Genuine wooden floors - whether hardwood boards or parquet blocks – can be a valuable feature in any property, so regular maintenance will prolong their life. Some will eventually benefit from restoration. Sanding and refinishing is a highly skilled job – but one within the grasp of a competent DIYer.
You can bring back your floors to their original beauty: follow these tips on preparation and for safe sanding.
Be methodical – be safe
Dust and some sealants such as lacquer are highly inflammable. So please, no smoking or open flames while sanding and sealing.
Preparing the room
- clear the room as far as possible: remove furniture, rugs, curtains, pictures and other items that can be conveniently handled.
- finish decorating the room before working on the floor.
- cover a large doorway with a sheet or plastic covering.
- place rags or towels under exit or fitted wardrobe doors. Cover all air vents.
- check the fuse supply to ensure the machine does not overload the circuit.
Unplug the sanding equipment when not in use or when changing the paper.
- provide adequate ventilation during sanding and refinishing.
- empty the dust collection bag frequently into a container. Wood dust is a fire hazard, so keep the container away from the site of the job.
- never stop the sander with the drum in contact with the floor.
- clean, soft footwear will prevent dirt marks and scratching.
Sanding and Refinishing Equipment
Depending on the job and the shape of your room, you may need the following items:
1. Drum or Belt Floor Sander
2. Edger Disc Sander
3. Rotary Floor Buffer / Maintainer
5. Sandpaper (fine, medium, coarse)
6. Grade 120 Mesh Screen Disc with Pad
7. Hammer and Nail Set
8. Pry bar
9. Hand Scraper
10. Dust Mask, Safety Glasses, Ear Plugs
Preparing the Floor
- glue and nail loose boards.
- repair or replace any damaged boards.
- hammer flat all protruding nail heads.
- vacuum or sweep the floor.
Sanding the Floor
A small wooden wedge between the skirting board and the pry bar of the sander will prevent damage to the skirting board.
New floors - recently installed or slightly worn
First sanding in three stages (medium abrasive paper: grit 36-2)
1) Install the sandpaper following the manufacturer's instructions on the machine. Make sure it fits snugly - neither too tight nor too loose.
Position the drum sander along the wall in the direction of the wood grain, leaving about two-thirds of the length of the floor in front of you.
Start the machine and ease the drum to the floor. Walk forward at a slow even pace. As you near the wall, gradually raise the drum off the floor.
Start pulling the machine backwards as you ease the drum back onto the floor. Walking backwards, cover the path previously sanded, raising the drum upon completion of this pass.
The next cuts should be performed in the same way: move the machine each time approximately four inches into the unsanded floor area.
After a few passes, your sander's dust bag will start to fill up. Stop sanding and make sure you empty it often.
2). When two-thirds of the room is sanded, turn the machine round. Sand the remaining area in the same manner, allowing a two or three foot overlap of the first cuts.
If the sanding rate begins to slow down, your sanding sheet is probably clogged or worn out. Stop sanding and change your sheet. If you continue, you will burn or damage your floor.
3). Use the edger disc sander near the walls and in areas where the drum sander won’t reach. Move the edger in a brisk left-to-right, semi-circular motion. (use the same grit abrasive as on the drum sander.)
Scrape or handsand corners and areas inaccessible to the machine. Vacuum the entire floor. Apply wood putty to any cracks or holes in wood. Make sure this dries before the next sanding step.
Second sanding (fine abrasive paper: grit 80-0)
Repeat the above procedure.
Old Floors (with a substantial amount of old finish and/or uneven
floor contours that need correcting)
First sanding in three stages (coarse abrasive: grit 20-3 1/2)
1) Install the sandpaper according to the machine manufacturer's instructions.
Place the sander beside a wall facing the direction of the grain with two-thirds of the floor in front of you. Start the machine and ease the drum to the floor while walking at a slow even pace. As you near the wall, gradually raise the drum. Begin pulling the machine backward as you ease the drum to the floor.
Walking backward, sand the same path again. Raise the drum upon completion of this pass. Sand the entire floor area, overlapping about four inches on each new cut.
Turn the sander round to sand the remaining one-third of the room in the opposite direction.
If your floor is severely cupped or curled, make the first cut at a 45-degree angle to the direction of the wood grain (see above diagram). Otherwise, always sand with the direction of the wood grain.
If the sanding rate slows, your sheet is probably clogged or worn out. Stop sanding and change it. Otherwise, you will get burn marks and damage to the floor.
After the main wood floor sanding, use the edger disc sander to sand near the walls and in areas, the drum sander won't reach. Move the disc edger in a brisk left-to-right, semi-circular motion. (Use the same grit abrasive as on the drum sander.)
Do not attempt to remove 100% of the old finish during this first sanding. Subsequent sandings will remove any residual amounts. Vacuum the entire floor.
Second sanding (medium abrasive: 36 grit)
Sand as before. Apply wood putty to exposed cracks and allow them to dry.
Third sanding (fine abrasive: 80 or 120 grit)
Sand as before
Stains and sealants
Follow the manufacturer's recommendations and guidelines for applying stains (if you so choose) and your floor finish of oil, wax or lacquer
Yes, floor sanding is a skilled and ambitious DIY job. If this seems too much for you, then call on the Sanding Wood Floors.
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