A Perfect Refinish For Your Hardwood Floor
Attempting the rather large project of refinishing your hardwood floors sanding is not for everyone. But it does offer some degree of personal satisfaction, and is a real notch in the DIY bedpost for enthusiasts who have more than a smattering of carpentry under their belts and are willing to put in the time (and effort) to ensure a perfect job.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is to think that refinishing can be crammed into a single weekend or (even worse) a single day. No, no and thrice no! Even the smallest of rooms will require ‘breathing’ time between processes and the final finishing alone takes 48 hours. So whatever you do, don’t start refinishing your floor until you can devote plenty of time (at least 4 or 5 days) to the project. This allows the luxury of not rushing, because as everyone knows a rushed job = a botched job in 99.9% of cases.
So having marked off enough time you can now gather together the things you will need. In the main these are:
- Claw hammer
- Sealing tape
- Epoxy filler
- Sanding machine
- Hand held sander
- Finishing product
Sweep and vacuum the room after removing everything that can be removed. Tape up doors you don’t need to use and it is a good idea to tape around skirting, tiled fireplaces and bay windows too. This becomes especially important when you get to the finishing stage. Use the hammer to remove nails and the filler to repair gaps between the boards.
Hopefully your floor won’t have been subjected to too many previous sandings in the past. Ideally a floor that is well maintained with average traffic should need sanding every 8-10 years. Over-sanding tends to thin the boards and can cause damage.
Assuming that this is not the case the procedure for a medium to large room is to hire a drum or belt sanding machine that you will ‘walk’ along the boards. If the room is small like a box room, landing or stairs then you can chose to use an orbital sander instead. This hand-held sanding machine does require you getting down on your hands and knees and will take longer, but it is much gentler on the wood and considerably easier to get into those cramped spaces or nooks and crannies.
Either way accept the fact that getting down and dirty is inevitable, as you will require a palm sander to get flush with the skirting and corners of the room even if you are using an industrial machine. If you have never attempted refinishing before it may be a good idea to start with a small room, before tackling anything more substantial.
If the floor hasn’t been sanded in a while you are best advised to choose a drum sander with a coarse grade of paper. Never leave this type of machine switched on whilst not moving as it will cause ruts in the planking.
After each sanding (you will probably need to do at least two and possibly even three passes) change the paper to a finer grade. Unless the floor is in very bad condition, three sandings should be sufficient.
After each round of sanding, vacuum the room thoroughly. Wait 10 minutes and vacuum again (this allows time for the sneaky residual dust particles in the air to settle before vacuuming them up). The final floor sanding will leave the floor ultra smooth and a little lighter in colour.
When the floor is perfectly sanded you can now apply your finishing; varnish, wood stain or oil. Finishing is a matter of personal choice but whichever product you opt for make sure you apply exactly as per guidelines.
Usually two finishing coats are required, with the final coat requiring a full 48 hours drying time before furniture and fittings can be returned to the room.