How to sand a wood floor
Achieve professional results when wood floor sanding
So, you have uncovered a carpet, moved into a property or have an existing floor that is tired, worn or scratched and the decision has been made to restore the floor to its former glory.
There are a number of different possibilities to achieve a fresh/new floor look, you can engage the services of a professional wood floor sanding company or you can hire equipment and do-it-yourself. The plus side of engaging a wood floor sanding contractor should be that they will carry all the equipment and knowledge to complete the works to a high standard, the other option of doing it yourself is more demanding but if you follow the guidelines below you should be able to get a good result.
Machines & Tools required;
Belt sander with drum lowering facility (grit range of abrasives 36,60,100,120)
Edging sander (grit range of abrasives 40,80,100)
Finishing Sander (3 head machine – grit range 120,150)
Before commencing any sanding with the belt sander it is vitally important to remove any sharp objects from the floor, these could be in the form of staples and tacks, it will also pay dividends to punch the nail heads down for two reasons – 1. It will save the abrasives and you will get more life from them and prevent sparks from entering the dust bag 2. The end result will be cleaner finish without shiny nail heads spoiling the appearance.
If the floor is very scratched and worn it may need the first grit size on the belt sander to be a 36 grit, you should always go with the grain of the timber (along with the boards) to ensure no cross grain scratches. Tip: Start walking with the belt sander before lowering the spinning drum onto the floor, this will reduce scorch and drum marks
Once you have completed the first cut of the floor with the belt sander on a 36 grit, check that you are happy with a consistent level of sanding across the floor, now it is time to start the edge work. Using the edge sander on a 40 grit use a clockwise circular motion to sand the edges, do feather it into the belt sanding work that you have completed, make sure to do the corners as well. A thorough vacuum of the floor is best practice in between sanding of grit ranges.
You can now sand the floor with the belt sander on a 60 grit and afterwards repeat the process on the edges and corners as before with the 80 & 100 grit.
The final sand with the belt sander can be done with 100 grit, as before make sure to go with the grain of the timber and you should end up with a smooth unfinished floor.
If a finishing sander was available you can now use this with 120 grit on the machine, this will blend any edge work and main body of the floor sanding and create a super smooth timber floor before application of wood finishing products.
The above is a traditional method of sanding wood floors when they require a full renovation, there are other methods of preparing wood floors for finishing of which can be easier but may not give as a professional finish.
Chemical abrasion is a risky method as it depends what has been applied to the floor previously as a finish i.e. wax, lacquer, oil etc. If it is not carried out correctly with due care and attention it can result in a patchy, uninform appearance that will then need a full sand to restore the surface.
A much more effective method for removing dirt and light scratches will involve the use of a rotary floor machine and abrasive 3M SPP pads and water, wood floor cleaner or heavy duty cleaner, this can be a swift exercise in the partial renovation of wood flooring. By spraying the floor with the relevant chemical/cleaner/water and working over with the rotary machine and SPP pads it will lightly key and abrade the surface whilst removing ingrained dirt and light scratching. You can then run diamond finishing floor pads over the unfinished wood floor to polish the surface before refinishing but this is not an essential process.
So, which finishing product do you use?
After the surface is prepared you must always pre-water the wood floor surface, you can read more about that here.
It is all dependant on the use of the floor and the amount of footfall that will occur, some of the options are;
Lacquer – a durable finish that requires little maintenance, general spillages will just sit on the surface and wipe away. It comes in matt, satin and gloss finishes and varying hardness levels (single & two component) to cope with commercial environments, sports halls and domestic usage. Sometimes it is confused with ‘Varnish’ but it is a much harder wearing material.
Oils – can be a great way to finish wood floors, they give a very natural finish and floors can be multi coated within a short time period. They will require a periodic top up/re-oiling to ensure they are protected and do not dry out.
Hard Wax Oils – A blend of natural waxes and oils that give a rich lustre whilst accentuating the grain of the timber. They do cure to a hard finish, can be used in both domestic and commercial environments and are available in matt, satin and gloss finish. It will require periodic maintenance to keep the appearance.
Whichever finish you decide to complete your floor, it will all depend on the preparation work that you have done and is all important to the final result.
Wood Floor Maintenance cannot be underestimated, correct wood floor cleaners, flat mops, top up products are all vital in the on-going care of your hard work. Making sure that it is regularly swept and free from dirt, dust and grit will reduce the frequency for partial renovation works.