Floor Sanding Machines
For those real wood floor lovers who understand that a thorough sanding is the bedrock upon which any refinishing is built, read on and discover your choices when it comes to choosing a floor sander to help you get the job done right.
Caveat: never, ever sell yourself the option of applying varnish or any type of finishing on to a floor which has not been sanded, no matter how smooth and even the floor may look to the human eye. There will be lumps, bumps, flaws and general disparity which occur naturally over time in all types of hard and softwoods and it is these seemingly minuscule flaws which are highlighted whenever new finishing is introduced.
Unless you have sanding tools in your tool box then it is more than likely that you will be looking to hire a walk-through sander as well as a hand held tool, such as an orbital sander, to get into those awkward corners, around fireplaces and behind doors. You can even use sandpaper squares by hand on really tight areas such as on stairs and around cupboards.
The original carpenter’s friend, the belt sander comes in many sizes – from hand-held varieties to sand down kitchen units or to redefine furniture to the industrial strength sander used for flooring. The size of belt used will of course typically correspond with the type of sander. A belt sander requires the user to use ear defenders – they may be effective, but belt sanders are very noisy!
A firm favourite with hire shops everywhere, the good old drum sander works well on all types of wood. However, first-time users should take care (as well as full instruction from the DIY outlet from which it is hired) as it is very easy to not only gouge the planks but also to leave abrasions across the boards. Avoid these problems by starting out by using the correct grain of paper (the general rule is start off coarse and use a progressively finer grade on each sanding). Using sandpaper that’s too fine straight away can result in a ‘burn’, which leaves nasty scoring on the planks. This can easily be avoided by using the correct grade of paper from the onset.
Another common problem with inexpert use of both the belt and drum sander results in bevels, which occur when the operator tries to cover too large an area in one go. It is far better to systematically walk the machine along the length of the planking at a steady and even pace. Try to resist the impulse to push the machine into the wood, as this will most certainly cause damage. Instead, allow the machine to ‘skim’ across the surface of the wood veneer and never leave it switched on when the machine is stationary. This can cause deep gashes in the surface of the wood that are extremely difficult to remove.
Most commonly used in industrial premises and construction sites, the dustless sander is more expensive to hire than the others described here, but offers the obvious benefit of a 99% reduction in residual sawdust, making the dustless floor sanding sander best choice in a home with asthmatic and allergy sufferers.
The dustless sander operates by way of an electrically powered hose, which is attached to the sander but located on the exterior of the home. The additional power gives more suction and takes any lingering dust particles outside.
This small hand held device is uncomplicated to use and, with common sense and a bit of care, gives a smooth finish to all types of wood floor sanding. If using on stairs, be sure not to dig in’ to any stubborn areas. It is far better and kinder to the wood to sand the area more than once to achieve the desired effect.
Generally speaking a floor which has not been refinished for a decade or so should require three sandings before finishing is applied.