Important Rule to Prepare your Floor
If you have decided to sand your own floor then the most important rule is to prepare. Many sanding jobs are ruined due to a lack of basic preparation. Gather together the tools you will need for the job and these should include hammer and carpet staple remover, palette knife and wood putty for filling in gaps between the boards, gaffer tape to mark off edges and to protect surrounds which cannot be dismantled, chisel and scraper to remove stains on the wood and of course the sanding machine itself as well as a hand-held orbital sander for edges and corners. Remember to protect yourself by wearing the appropriate safety kit including goggles, dust mask and gloves.
Another important point is to give yourself enough time to complete the sanding. Don’t try to fit the whole process into one day. It is more likely that sanding an average sized room will take at least a weekend. If you intend to undertake a whole Floor Sanding and Finishing then you should realistically put aside 4 or 5 days for completion.
Elbow grease is a must!
Although you have an industrial sanding machine to help you, be prepared to get down on your hands and knees to hand sand the edging boards, around bay windows and fireplaces, stairs and other small areas that the sanding machine won’t be able to get into.
The best (in fact, the only!) way to successful sanding is to clean as you go. This means sweeping and vacuuming the room prior to the first sanding and in between subsequent sandings. How many times your floor requires to be sanded is dependent upon its condition.
Get the basics right
Before doing anything else make sure you have a nice through-flow of fresh air coming into the room and carefully remove all furniture and soft furnishings, lightshades and skirting boards. Anything which cannot be safely taken out can be marked off with the gaffer tape. Remove any old floor covering, dry sweep or vacuum carefully and check for any loose boards or planks with gaps, as any repairs should be attended to before sanding. If any planks appear rotted or otherwise damaged these must be removed and replaced before continuing. Removing rogue planks should be done carefully with chisel and hammer shaft as support.
Take out (or hammer in) any protruding nails or carpet tacks. If your floor was laid prior to the installation of a heating system then you might find loose or wobbly boards that have been removed to allow an engineer entry under the floor. If this is the case then carefully nail the loose boards back via the parallel joists before drilling and screwing into place.
Spaces between the boards occur naturally due to the wood contracting and expanding over time. Use good quality wood putty and fill in any spaces. If left, gaps will cause annoying squeaks and groans in a very short time and well as causing draughty corners in the room.
Ready to sand
If your floor hasn’t been sanded for a long time then start off by using a rough grade of sandpaper in the machine, using a finer grade for subsequent sandings. Always move the machine in the direction of the natural wood grain and move slowly, making sure each board receives the same level of sanding. When you want to stop sanding then switch off the sander first as an idling machine can cause grooves in the planks that can be very expensive to repair. Leave an all-round gap of about 8-12 inches around the walls as this is the area you will be hand sanding so that you can get in close to the very edges. Once the sanding is successfully completed your floor should feel very even and smooth to the touch.
After Floor Sanding you are ready to apply your finishing of choice. Always use hardwood floor products in accordance with guidelines and make sure your room remains well ventilated at all times.