A Guide to Floor Sanding
Wood floors can last generations, if not lifetimes, if they are looked after properly but if they aren't all is not lost. It's perfectly possible to restore a wood floor to its former glory by sanding it back to reveal good wood.
Floor Sanding OverviewThe basic concept behind wooden floor sanding is to remove a fine layer off the surface, something that's usually done with a floor sander. You can hire one for a day or a weekend but you will also need a small handheld orbital sander for the edges and corners that the large machine won't be able to reach.
You'll also need an industrial strength mask and filter to wear because sawdust can easily get into your lungs and eyes. Again you can hire these from the tool hire shop and it's worth getting a pair of ear defenders too.
Preparation Before Sanding is CrucialWith floor sanding, just like so many other household restoration jobs, the preparation work needs to be done first. The more time and care spent on this, the better the overall result will be. It might be an idea to spend one weekend lifting whatever flooring is down and just doing preparation, so that the following weekend is clear to make the most of the floor sander hire.
The last thing you want to do when floor sanding is to be spending money on the machine only for it to sit idle. Or, worse still, having to hire it again for the following weekend because you were unable to finish the job.
Sort Out Problems FirstPreparation involves fixing any major faults in the wood floor, making sure that there isn’t anything protruding from the floor that will rip the sandpaper, and masking up to control the dust. The faults could include filling gaps, woodworm, rot or damp and it's important to sort them out first otherwise you'll be having to re-sand and finish again in short order. More information on dealing with these problems can be found in our article on wooden floor restoration.
Then go round on your hands and knees feeling carefully for any protruding nail heads. Hammer them down to just below the surface using a centre punch or other suitable metal drift. Finally mask up using dustsheets at doorways to prevent sawdust getting all over the house. Use masking tape at windows and any other escape routes such as keyholes.
Using the SanderNow you're ready for the actual floor sanding. Work the room from left to right, going with the grain of the floorboards, always sanding on a forward stroke, never pulling the machine backwards. Keep it moving at all times, if you need to stop switch the sander off, even it's its only for a minute.
Use the handheld sander for the edges and corners and have some sanding blocks on standby to get into any really awkward places by hand. Empty the sawdust bag regularly as they can explode under the wrong conditions, but hold on to some sawdust if there are small gaps or holes that need filling. By mixing that sawdust with wood glue you can make a filler that will be an exact match for your wood floor.