Sand a Hardwood Floor
Sanding solid wood flooring is integral to hardwood renovation as a whole and should therefore never be omitted. Do not be tempted therefore to apply new finishing on top of the old, no matter how smooth it may appear. This way lies disaster in the form of unnecessary work and expense to put right.
First things first; empty the room of all fixtures and furniture. Remove any existing floor covering and hammer protruding nails and tacks so that they are flush with the boards. A good rule of thumb is to hammer down about 6½ mm into the wood, although if the nail is sticking up a fair distance off the floor then it may be easier to pull it out.
Next check the floor for bits of old carpeting or jute matting stuck to the boards and carefully remove with a putty knife or the edge of a Stanley blade. If the room was previously carpeted then there may be some tack edging to remove.
Vacuum thoroughly and wipe floor with a lightly damp mop to catch any stray shards or dust.
Sanding is a traditional part of refinishing hardwood flooring and although the machines may have evolved over the decades the principal has not: sanding means simply to remove all traces of the existing refinishing before applying the new.
The sanding machine you will probably have hired will be too large to reach right up to the floor edges. So you will need to go around the perimeter of the room on hands and knees with an orbital sander fixed with coarse sandpaper (140 or 180 grit should do it). Hand sand from the edge to about 200 mm towards the centre of the room all around.
Now you can turn your attention to the rest of the floor.
Fit a coarse grade of paper into the sanding machine and slowly move off working along the plank lengths sanding as you go. Don’t rush the process at this point, especially if you have never used an industrial sander before. You should also never attempt to use a sanding machine unless you have thoroughly read and understood the instructions provided at the time of hiring.
Avoid digging into the floor as this will cause unsightly gouges. Stubborn marks should be dealt with by multiple sandings instead, and the machine should always be in motion when working as a static sanding machine switched on will have nowhere else to go but downwards into the wood!
Depending upon the initial condition of the floor it may be necessary to complete more than one round of coarse grit sanding before moving on to the medium grit round. For a complete finish you can finish off with a final sanding using the lightest grain of paper. Now remove the sander from the room and vacuum carefully.
The floor should now feel very smooth to the touch with no shards or protruberences. If you have sanded successfully the floor will also be even with no dips and bevels cause by over-sanding a small area.
At the end of the sanding process you will have a pile of sawdust which works very well to plug any small holes which may have been created when hammering in nails at the start of the process.
Sanding can be a messy process so it is a good idea to have children and pets removed for the day. Also keep the room well ventilated and always wear the appropriate safety equipment including gloves and safety goggles.
If you suffer from respiratory problems it would probably be a better idea to get a quote from a local floor sanding company to do the job for you.