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Sanding and maintaining your floors is not a task which should be overlooked. Your floors are the canvas on which the rest of your home furnishings are mounted, and it provides the support for both furniture and footfall traffic on an everyday basis. This stress put on floors means that you need to prepare and maintain them properly, so that they maintain their quality for as long as possible. When it comes to home improvement and the longevity of your floor quality, properly sanding, treating and maintaining your floors is therefore hugely important.
It is also vital to appreciate that different floors require different treatment. The uses of the floor should determine your sanding and maintenance methods, as the floor will need to endure different behaviours and conditions.
We have put together this concise guide on how to best prepare and sand wooden floors to ensure that they will look beautiful and last you a lifetime.
Preparing your floor
When it comes to restoring wooden floors, preparation is hugely important. Sanding is a thankless task if the surface is not sufficiently prepared beforehand. Here is what we would advise:
- Furniture removal– Remove as much furniture as possible to make the job easier. Larger items such as sofas might need to be left and moved around during the sanding job if they are too difficult to remove from the room entirely. You may also want to remove light fittings such as any chandeliers as the movement from the sanding machine might cause them to loosen.
- Vacuum the floor– Giving the floor a quick once-over with the vacuum will give you a cleaner surface to deal with and will reveal any exposed nails or staples.
- Carpet tacks– Be sure to remove any old carpet tacks or fragments without damaging the wood so that you can get a completely smooth finish on your floor. If they are impossible to remove, shear off the heads of tack and drive them into the floorboard. This is important not only for the end product, but also to ensure that tacks do not get caught on the sander and cause any damage.
- Fix loose floorboards– Make sure you check for any loose floorboards and use new nails to secure these in place. Also ensure that any raised nail heads are driven into the boards to give an even surface for sanding.
- Replace damaged boards– It might be necessary to cut out and replace any sections of floorboard which you are not able to salvage. Try to replace floorboards with sections of the same type of timber, with the same thickness, so that the applied finish and overall effect will be consistent across the entire floor.
Sanding: the actual process
Sanding wooden floors is not an easy task, so you need to be ready for hard work before you start. Being thorough is also key to achieving an attractive even finish for your floor. You will need to use decreasing coarseness grain sand paper so that you sand off any initial lumps and bumps before gradually sanding down towards a smooth floor overall. Here are a few points to remember:
- Sand along the grain– Always sand along the grade of the wood to ensure that the finish is even and you make the most of the original appearance of the timber. However, if the floor is very uneven you will need to begin by sanding diagonally across the floor with the coarsest grit level to smooth it out.
- Be gentle– Be gentle in every element of your sanding, as you do not want to gouge out any of the wood, or cause damage to skirting boards when using your edger. It is all about being gradual, there is no point applying too much pressure as you won’t achieve the desired result.
- Keep moving– It is important to keep the sander moving across the floor to ensure that you achieve an even result, and you must never leave your sander to rest in one place as this with damage the boards and leave marks.
- Ascending grain grades– You should start by removing all the old finish and discolouration with the coarsest grade- which one you use will depend on the condition of your floorboards- and you should eventually finish the floor with 120 fine grade grid to achieve a smooth finish. Don’t be tempted to skip grades as you won’t get rid of the previous scratches.
- Avoid the edges– Never use your sander near the edges of the room where there are radiators or skirting boards, as the sander will cause serious damage. Instead, stop a few inches from the edge and finish off with a scraper and a detail sander.
Things to remember with different floor types:
- Parquet– Parquet and original wood strip floors can be sanded but extra care must be taken, as these materials are thinner and less robust compared with floorboards.
- Bathroom– Floorboards in bathrooms need to withstand higher levels of moisture, and therefore getting an even finish and sealing these floors properly is hugely important.
- Decking– Getting the right finish on decking is important so that the wood can withstand varied weather conditions, so it is necessary to focus on both water proofing and reinforcing when sanding and treating decking boards.
- Hallways– These areas have to deal with high levels of traffic, and therefore sanding these floorboards need to be levelled and treated to enable them to withstand against regular footfall on a daily basis.
- Commercial floors– When sanding and treating larger flooring areas, such as office floors or school halls, getting an even and level finish can be more challenging. It is therefore important to take extra care during the earlier sanding stages to get the floor even before worrying about smooth appearances.
This is by no means all there is to know about preparing and sanding your floors; but in our opinion these tips will have you well on your way towards the perfectly restored wooden floors you’ve been dreaming of. However, sanding your own floors it not something which should be taken on lightly, and often if you have a lot of floors you want sanding you might be better off going to a professional, who will be able to do the job for you and achieve top quality results in a fraction of the time.