Sanding Back the Years
To get your wood flooring looking like new again, it’s time to get sanding! Sanding a floor basically means removing ancient coats of finishing by using an industrial sanding unit and reapplying a fresh veneer of varnish, lacquer or wood stain. Of course there is more to the process than that, but basically that is the refinishing procedure sanded back (pun intended) to the bare bones.
If you have never attempted to sand your own floor before but feel it is a challenge you could rise to them read on. If you would like to have your floor refinished but feel it is a bit beyond you physically then don’t worry. Instead of tackling the job yourself you can enlist the aid of a professional wood sanding outfit who offer a no-obligation quotation so you can see where you stand.
Sanding – the facelift for floors
Because sanding is absolutely integral to any successful wood floor restoration, it is essential – in every case – that old veneer is completely stripped away before applying fresh finishing products. Unlike paint, which can be applied on top of previous coats, wood floor finishing products must only ever be used on newly sanded bare boards.
The best place to start then is in a completely emptied room with interior doors you are not going to be using taped up to help prevent residual dust from creeping throughout the rest of the house. Keep windows open in the room you are working in throughout the process, especially when you are applying finishing and wear appropriate dust masks, goggles and gloves.
If your room is medium to large sized you will need to use a large sanding machine. These are available for hire at DIY outlets and plant hire premises. You can choose from a belt or drum sander. If you are unfamiliar with its use, make sure you receive a breakdown of the operating instructions (including health and safety guidelines) from the hire shop.
Before putting the sander anywhere near your floor, inspect the boards thoroughly and wood floor repair or replace damaged or worn planks as necessary. Gaps between the boards should be filled with wood filler paste applied with a plastic spatula. Take out any sticking up nails or tacks and secure any boards which are loose.
With these essential preliminaries completed you are now ready to sand – once you have thoroughly vacuumed the room, of course! Affix the coarsest grain of sandpaper onto the machine, switch on and slowly walk it along the floor boards. The machine will sand as it moves but (especially in the case of the drum sander) it will continue to sand when in a stationary position, so never, ever leave the machine on when it is not in motion. This large machine will be unable to reach flush into the skirting so leave an 8-inch perimeter around the room. This area you will have to sand by hand.
If your floor has never been sanded chances are you will have to repeat the sanding process two or three times. Always vacuum between sandings though and each time upgrade the paper to one of a finer grain.
The final sand down
When your floor has benefitted as much as possible from sanding, the boards will feel smooth with no wood splinters, holes or ruts in evidence. Don’t worry if your floor is now a different colour from when you started. This is natural and will change again with the application of the finishing product.
When your floor has been sanded sufficiently it is always a good idea to let the wood ‘breathe’ for 24 hours before finishing. That way you can look at the floor again with fresh eyes and check one final time for flaws.
When you are happy with the finish then you can safely apply the varnish, wood stain, lacquer or oil you have chosen. Play safe and apply in small areas using a lint-free cloth rather than a brush, which may leave brush marks and stray bristles to spoil the final effect.