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Sanding Floors Successfully

Posted on September 28th, 2012 In: Articles, Hardwood Floors Sanding Articles

Solid hardwood floors, whilst sturdy and hard-wearing, will also require sanding from time to time in order to prepare the wood for a new coat of veneer, be it stain, lacquer, wax or varnish. Never apply a new topcoat to your hardwood flooring without first sanding and removing the existing finishing, as that is the classic way to a botched job!

Sanding floors requires specialist care and expertise in order to prevent the wood from splintering or being damaged. The object of Hardwood Floors Sanding is to remove the existing finishing and to remove any flaws in the boards, as well as filling in any gaps. In order for all these things to happen successfully the floor must be smoothly and evenly sanded throughout.

There are various types of sanders which can be used simultaneously on different parts of the floor.

Drum Sander

This is a heavy piece of kit that requires two people to lift it. As its name suggests, the drum sander works by way of a large drum with integral dust bag on which large, measured sheets of sanding paper are affixed. Sanding paper is available in course, medium and fine grade.

As it rolls over the floor the drum sander takes off any uneven patches, marks and old staining. However, be careful when using this sander as it can leave ruts in its wake, which are nigh on impossible to remove! Also make sure no part of the floor is over-sanded as this will become highlighted when the finishing coat is applied.

But in careful hands or used by professional floor sanding experts with the experience and expertise to use this complex and finicky piece of kit properly, the drum sander does a good job in taking hardwood flooring down into the naked wood. When your floor has been drum sanded properly it will feel smooth to the touch and be a few shades lighter.

Vibrating Sander

This sander should be applied to wood which has been drum sanded. The vibrating sander is less heavy to use and the vibrating motion makes for easier purchase across the floor. Because of the lightness of this sander there is less risk of over sanding or otherwise damaging the floor. When the vibrating sander has done its job the floor will feel extremely smooth and may now adopt a slightly blanched appearance.

Orbital Sander

The orbital sander can be used instead of the vibrating sander and is ideal for use if the floor’s original condition is relatively good. The orbital sander is excellent at removing sealant with minimum fuss. Both the orbital and the vibrating sander will, in the right hands, bring your hardwood floor to the smoothest finish possible.

Edging Sander

This hand held tool is just the job for getting into those hard to reach places like around the floor edges, in tight corners and alcoves, stairs etc. The edging sander also carries a dust bag and its circular motion makes it fairly simple to use.

On a cautionary note; the edging sander is a piece of expensive industrial kit especially made to sand hardwood flooring. Don’t be tempted to use your own orbital sander (if you have one) as this is completely the wrong tool for the job and could well make you cry with frustration!

When your floor is properly sanded it will be uniformly smooth throughout with no wood snags, rogue nails or gaps and is now ready for finishing.

Be sure to have adequate ventilation as there will be residual dust particles in the air, depending upon the quality of machine you are using which may cause upset to asthma sufferers and people with respiratory problems in general. To be sure of getting the right finish with the minimum of fuss, dust and upheaval, your best route to sanding floors successfully is to hand the job over to the professionals.

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