Successful Wood Floor Renovation
Any wood floor restorative process must begin with repair or replacing damaged or missing planks including gap filling and securing loose boards as appropriate. While it may be tempting to scan the floor quickly, pronouncing it okay in eagerness to get onto the sanding and finishing part of the job, it is a great mistake to do so as ignoring basic repairs at this stage will shorten the life of your refurbishment and could well cost you more money in the long run.
So when the furniture, fixtures and fittings have been removed and carefully stored in other parts of the house you should get down on your hands and knees (with a magnifying glass if you have to!) and examine the floor inch by inch. Pay careful attention to planks close to pipework which was installed later than the floor as there is likely to be spaces, loose or chipped boards in these areas. Fill gaps with wood dust resin, epoxy or even papier mache applied with a Stanley knife. Fill the gap completely and even of with the edge of the blade removing all traces of excess mixture before it hardens.
The next step is to remove all dust and dirt with a careful vacuuming using the nozzle attachment to get right into corners and when the floor is as dust-free as you can make it. Only then is it ready to receive its first sanding.
Be sure of your sander
Choose a large sander that operates either with a belt or drum movement and which is available for rent. This process is infinitely preferable to getting down on your hands and knees with an orbital sander to work on a medium to large sized room. But bear in mind that you will have to use a hand held sander for the perimeter and corners that the large sander will not be able to reach.
However, it does take a degree of mastery to use an industrial machine as a heavy handed sanding can cause damage to the floor boards. Therefore make sure you have a basic understanding of carpentry and the workings of the sander before you take it anywhere near your floor. The hire shop should be able to provide full instructions for use, which you should read carefully before beginning the important task of sanding your floor for the first time.
Basic good practice is to walk the sander lengthwise along the planks, not ever across. Do not leave the machine running whilst it is not travelling. Start with a coarse grade of sandpaper, using stepped finer grades with each subsequent sanding. In general terms a floor which has not been sanded for 10 years or more will probably require three sandings before it attains the all-over smoothness required for a successful finishing.
The type of finishing used is really down to personal preference. If you choose varnish it should be applied with a floor pad in small areas and always along with the wood grain. Remove excess varnish and allow to fully dry before applying a second coat.
For additional finishing gloss try lightly sanding in between varnishings but be sure to leave at least a day and a night after the final coat before bringing furniture back into the room.
When the floor is fully finished it is easy to keep clean. Brush or vacuum weekly, remove stains and spillages as they happen and damp mop once a month. This simple care routine should be enough to keep your floor in beautiful condition for years to come.