Floor Stripping for the DIY-er
Stripping a sanding wooden floor might seem a huge project and, depending upon the condition of the floor you may well be right. However if you would like to try your hand at stripping your hardwood floor back to basics and treating it to a suave new look then here is how to go about it.
Be prepared for household disruption though, as the sanding process can be messy, especially if this is your first attempt! If you have young children or pets it may be best to make sure they are out whilst you are working. The key is to remove all furniture and as many movable fixtures and fittings as you can. Make sure you keep a constant stream of air circulating through the room as you work.
Before attacking the floor with the industrial sanding machine you have hired, vacuum and dry sweep the area thoroughly whilst at the same time checking for sticking up nails and tacks and for loose or damaged boards. Gaps between the planks should not be left as they will only get wider, causing draughts and very annoying squeaks! Fill in gaps with a good quality wood putty and even off with a palette knife so that there is no putty left on the boards.
Strip that floor
Now it’s time for the big boy – the drum or belt sanding machine. This needs to be walked along the grain of the wood in a smooth and unhurried manner. These machines tend to be noisy in a confined space, so you should wear ear defenders as well as an appropriate mask and goggles when working with the sander. It might be a nice idea to warn the neighbours too!
The sander will strip the existing finishing from the boards to leave you with an untreated foundation on which to build your new floor finishing. The first sanding should be carried out using a fairly coarse grain of paper in the machine. You can use a finer grain for the second sanding. The sander’s job is to strip the floor of old veneer but don’t lean heavily on one spot (or even worse yet don’t go back over the same spot using the sander like a vacuum) to try to get rid of any troublesome spots that the sander has not removed first time around. Do this and you will cause serious ruts and bevels in the wood, which will be very costly to put right. If there are stubborn stains or old puddles of veneer on the floor which the sander has trouble stripping off then you can work on it by hand with an orbital or edging sander.
The most challenging stains for the sander are pet and water stains, but you can make sizeable improvement on these pesky rogues with a careful hand sanding technique. You can use a sharp paint scraper to carefully work underneath any blobs of old finishing and rub it gently with sandpaper to blend in. If the stain is large, in a prominent place and will not be moved then the only course of action is to replace the wood.
When you are sanding keep the sander away from walls and skirting boards. It’s a good idea to stop sanding about 12 inches around the perimeter of the room. This area should be sanded by hand. Remember corners, nooks and crannies are important and should be hand stripped using a small carbide scraper.
However don’t be fooled into thinking hand stripping the entire room is the way forward for that way lies both heartbreak and a broken back! Machine sanding is really the only way to go if you have a large area to cover – and it’s less expensive too.
Make sure you vacuum after every Floor Sanding and Finishing as it is essential that no residual dust remains to spoil the look of the new finishing.