The Best Way to Renovate Your Solid Wood Flooring
London homeowners who enjoy the benefits of solid wood flooring can do a lot to keep the wood in tip-top condition between professional renovations. Those with more than a smattering of carpentry experience may even like to try their hand at renovating their own floor.
Wood floor renovation involves taking the wood back to its original condition and rebuilding to a new veneer. During this process you are likely to discover flaws such as split planking, gaps between the boards or even damaged boards. If this is the case then do not be tempted to ignore these snags and carry on. It’s far better to roll the sleeves up now and tackle the problems rather than expend time and energy creating a brand new finishing which will, more often than not, do little to hide those problem areas. However, if you feel that the challenge is beyond your capabilities don’t be tempted to ‘have a go ‘- hand the process over to the professionals.
The average time between solid wood restorations is around a decade, so given that this is not a job you are likely to do too many times in your life, it is always best to tackle those pesky snags at the pre-sanding stage.
Most common wear and tear signs are of raised (warped) boards, boards which have become marked by heavy furniture and gaps. Warped wood has been caused by water puddling on the floor perhaps by a leaking radiator or allowing water to lie on the wood for long periods of time. If this is the case then you need to remove and replace the offending planks. Areas that have become marked by furniture will benefit from sanding and those marks (unless they are gouges) will disappear. Gaps between the boards can be filled with wood or MDF strips packed into the spaces and glued in place. If the gaps are hairline you can use wood filler.
The sanding process
The next stage is sanding. You can hire an industrial sanding machine, which is driven by either a belt or a drum. This machine will roll along the floor (much like a lawnmower) sanding as you go. You should find the machine easy enough to operate, but always adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions that the hire shop should issue you. If there is no operating instructions then do not take the machine!
The most common error people make is to allow the sander to idle. Do this and you will have unsightly ruts on the floor that will be impossible to repair and require replacing. However, sanding should not prove too daunting a task to a DIY-er with a little joinery experience.
Depending upon the condition of the floor, you may have to sand twice or even three times to obtain the smooth level boards which are essential to a successful renovation. Begin with a coarse grain and move to a finer sandpaper with each sanding round.
Edges and awkward spaces should be sanded by an orbital sanding unit. Belt and drum sanders will be unable to sand flush into the edges, and you will have a perimeter of unsanded floor that you will have to finish off by hand.
Remember to vacuum after each round of sanding using a vacuum with a hose attachment to get right in between the boards.
A fully sanded floor will be a degree lighter than before and will feel ultra-smooth to the touch. Only when your floor has reached this stage should you move on to the finishing.
Remember it is extremely unlikely that you will floor sand and finishing your floor in one day, so put aside enough time so you do not feel you have to rush the project.
There are extensive finishings on the market and you can choose from wax, lacquer, varnish and wood paint. Whichever veneer you choose make sure to follow the guidelines and wear protective clothing, mask and goggles throughout the job.