The Definitive Guide to Wood Stripping & Sanding
In homes up and down the country people are peeling back their old carpet, pulling up their engineered laminated floor, cutting up their lino, and re-thinking their existing wooden floors. Re-finished hardwood floors have become incredibly fashionable in recent years, but they also have a number of practical advantages over other types of flooring, and can add a significant amount of value of your property. So if you want to refurbish your floor, how do you go about it? Well there are two methods: Stripping and sanding.
What is wood stripping?
A different option to the more conventional sanding process is to use a chemical agent to strip back any finishes or paint on your floor. This will essentially leave the wood intact without having to buy or rent any expensive sanding equipment, but it does require much more stringent approach to health and safety, with excellent ventilation and protection of your skin from potentially harmful chemicals a necessity.
How do I do it?
If you do decide that the correct course of action for you is to strip your floors, rather than sand them, there are three main types of floor stripping agent you can use. Chemical stripping is the most effective and is the most gentle on the wood, but this requires the use of a respirator and the chemicals can be highly damaging to your skin if exposed to it. The second type, solvent stripping is similar to chemical stripping but is perhaps more appropriate for avoiding the discolouration of the wood if that is a concern, although like chemical stripping it needs extreme care to be employed to avoid injury. Finally, there is caustic stripping, which is by far the cheapest and easiest to apply, but it has the drawback that it will stain the wood as a side effect, as well as the safety requirements of the other types of stripping.
What is sanding?
The most common and most widely used method is sanding, which essentially requires taking a layer off the wood on your floor using a sander. This allows you to remove any sort of imperfections or inconsistencies in the wood itself, as well as removing the exist finish on the floor allowing you to essentially start from scratch.
Should I hire a pro?
There are a number of important factors to consider with sanding, the first of which is whether you are going to do the work yourself, or if you would be better served in hiring a professional to do the work for you. The DIY approach is of course the cheaper option, but will be less convenient and more time consuming, so if your circumstances mean that having a room out of commission for a whole weekend then getting the work done for you might be more appropriate.
How do I do it?
If you do plan to do the work yourself, you will need to hire the correct equipment for the job, which will generally involve a large industrial sander (typically a drum sander), as well as an edge sander for the borders of the room, and usually some sort of finishing tool, such as a vibrating sander. It is typically the way most people will choose to use, simply because it eliminates the need to use chemicals. However, if you are unsure if this is what is best for you it is well worth consulting a professional to get more in depth advice.