Peeling back the years – how scraping can reveal a whole new floor
With so many of London’s terraced homes fortunate enough to have been built with real wood floor sanding, it is no surprise that a huge percentage of London homeowners are looking to get rid of carpets and lino and to restore their wood flooring to its original and beautiful condition. This is a win-win situation as it gives the family elegant wood flooring to enjoy whilst adding real value to the property.
Once the old floor covering has been carefully removed, the first step in reclaiming your beautiful wood floor is the sanding (or scraping) process. This involves removing old veneer from the floor and is perhaps the most important step in renovation and must never be skipped. Even floors which look fairly smooth will have flaws, stains and possibly damaged boards lurking beneath old veneer, so never be tempted to skip this process.
That being said, if you are doing the scraping by yourself you will need to hire a large ‘walk’ sanding machine such as a drum or belt sander. You can hire such a machine from your local DIY retailer or hire shop. If you have never used a sander before then make sure you get all the instructions you need before attempting to use the machine. Take advice from the shop regarding the grain of sandpaper to use. It is always a good idea to make your room measurements with you so that the hire plant staff can advise you correctly.
Prep is important
Make sure you do all the preparation work before attempting to sand the wood. The room should be empty of all fixtures and movable fittings. Tape up door surrounds of interior doors you will not be using and windows open. Firstly take care of any damaged or loose boards and remove sticking up nails. If the floor has been covered for a long time it is likely there will be spaces between the boards, which should be filled with wood putty before the scraping process begins.
The sanding machine will take care of the main part of the floor. The surrounding 8-inch perimeter can be sanded by a hand sander and corners, nooks and crannies as well as around fireplaces, bay windows etc. can be scraped by using a carbide wood scraper. This little scraper, about the size of a disposable razor, is excellent for minute work and will get in flush to the smallest of areas. Stubborn spots of old finishing that resist all sanding efforts can be dealt with by using a paint scraper. It is possible to use a paint stripping product for this type of spot stain, but a bit of gentle persuasion behind a paint scraper is more likely to get results without damaging the boards.
If you have never sanded a floor before (and even if you have) remember to use the same grain of sandpaper throughout. For example, if are using a rough grain in the machine then make sure you sue that same grain on the perimeter area. Change the paper often, as used sandpaper will not sand effectively. When you have completed the first round of sanding then lightly vacuum the floor before sanding again, this time with finer paper. After the second sanding you will see the boards really starting to look good. Depending upon the floor’s condition a third sanding may be required. If the floor is not completely smooth and even throughout it is worth sanding for a third time using a very fine grain of paper.
Bearing in mind that the average hardwood floor sanding will last for 5-8 years with basic maintenance before requiring sanding again, it is worth completing the process fully before applying the finishing.
Before you are finished with sanding completely it is always a good idea to check the floor one final time for any stubborn scratches and other blemishes which have resisted all efforts thus far; these you can hand sand using a square of sandpaper.
Your floor should now look and feel smooth and perfectly even, ready for the finishing veneer.