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Hardwood Floor Sanding: Do It Yourself Tips

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Sanding hardwood floors may seem like a difficult task. Sanding hardwood floors can be a difficult job and cause major disruptions to your home. Then there’s the big, terrifying sanding machine…

It’s not difficult. I’ve helped hundreds of homeowners–some of them complete DIY novices–successfully prep their floors for a new finish. These are my top tips for floor sanding in west auckland.

Goodbye, base shoe

Quarter-round molding, also known as “base shoe”, is a type of molding that I remove from the baseboards. Edge sanding lowers the floor slightly and leaves the baseboard on a small plateau. This is something you might not notice, even though you think so. Edge sanding can also scratch the base shoe. This means that you will need to do some touch-up work later.

Both problems can be avoided by removing the base shoe. To avoid confusion when you reinstall the base shoe, label it as you take it out. I will leave the base shoe in place if it is permanently bonded to the baseboard due to decades of paint buildup. You can leave the baseboard in place if you have a newer board and no quarter-round. However, be prepared for a lot of the above touch-ups.

Pet stains can last a lifetime

After a few passes with the sander, water stains will usually disappear. Pet urine stains can penetrate wood so deeply that it is impossible to sand them off. Although bleach formulated for wood floors might be worth trying, I have found that the results are poor at best and the wood ends up blotchy and pitted.

Sometimes, you can only replace the wood or apply a stain to it and consider it a permanent tribute to your pet.

How can you tell the difference between water and pee? Pet stains tend to be darker, almost black at the edges, and look more like an Indonesian map with large and small islands. You can search the above box for “patch wood flooring” to see how to replace a section.

Prepare the room

Seal ducts

Tape plastic on ducts to keep sanding powder out.

Some prep work is simple, such as removing furniture and covering doors with plastic. These are steps that DIYers often overlook:

  • To keep dust from ducts, cover or plug the air grilles. The thermostat should be turned off. Less air movement equals less dust moving around your home.
  • If you don’t want to clean them later, remove all window coverings.
  • Doors that lead to the room should be removed. Even if you open and close doors, you can’t sand completely under them.
  • Low-hanging light fixtures can be raised by simply tying two links of the chain with wire. You’ll bump your head if you do this. Repeatedly.
  • Finish nails can be used to nail down any boards that aren’t in place.
  • Nail heads can cause damage to the sanding belt or drum, which will cost you more. Make sure to countersink every nail by at least 1/8 inch.
  • Drag a snow shovel made of metal (upside-down) across the floor to detect nails. You’ll hear the sound when it hits a nail.

Tips for renting

Good sander choice

Rent a drum sander equipped with continuous belts and a lift lower lever to get better control.

Two rental machines are required: A drum sander for most of the floor sanding and an edger for baseboard sanding. These are some tips.

  • Instead of renting from a general rental shop, rent from a flooring specialist shop. You’ll get expertise at no extra expense.
  • Measure the space. The crew at the rental shop will be able to estimate the number of sanding discs and belts that you will need by knowing the area.
  • Do your preparation before you rent. Preparing for your rental will take more time than you might think. Do not waste your money on sanders that aren’t ready for use.
  • A drum sander should use a continuous belt, or sleeves, and not one that requires that you wrap a strip with abrasive around it. This is tedious and can leave chatter marks on your floor.
  • You should think twice before renting a flat-pad (or square-buff) sander. They are easier to use but not aggressive enough for hardwoods or finishes. “We don’t rent flat-pad sanders. They don’t work for most jobs.
  • A sander with a lever that raises and lowers the sanding drum is a good choice. This makes it easier to make graceful stops and starts, and reduces gouging.

Get rid of corners

Scraping corners

To remove the finish from corners, use a carbide scraper.

After the sanding is complete, you can use a paint brush to scrape away any areas that the machines cannot reach. The result will be a smooth, glossy surface that is not as durable as the surrounding wood. Use 80- or 100-grit papers to roughen up the areas you have scraped.

Choose a starter grit

To cut through a finish into hardwood, you need a coarse abrasive. It can be difficult for DIYers to determine how coarse the abrasive should be. It is best to try it out. I recommend starting with 36-grit. If this doesn’t remove all of the finish in one pass then you can go to 24-grit. If you don’t get at least three quarters of the finish with 24-grit, then go to 16-grit. No matter what grit you use to start, the finish must be removed by the time that you are done with 36-grit.

Nix the stripper

Many DIYers believe that paint stripper can be used to remove the finish from the surface before sanding. Don’t waste time. Sanding is quicker. Sanding is also cheaper.

It is important to change your belts frequently

Belt change-out

New, sharp belts sand quicker and produce better results.

This might seem self-serving. Trust me. You’ll regret using dull belts. The problem is that you won’t be able to see if the sander is working after the floor finish has dried. So you keep sanding. Everything seems normal, even though the machine is producing dust. The dull paper doesn’t cut deep enough to remove scratches from the old grit. This may not be obvious until you finish the floor. A dull disc for edging is worse because it doesn’t remove cross-grain scratches from the previous disc.

Even though paper may feel sharp, it could be past its prime. The best way to determine its condition is by the area it covers. My belts cover approximately 250 sq. The belts cover approximately 250 sq. ft. and the edger discs can be used after 20 sq. ft. It varies so be sure to ask the rental shop.

Edger education

Floor edging tool

A floor edger sands up to the baseboard.

The edger is basically an edger, which is a sanding disk mounted on a powerful motor. It is a simple tool but it can be difficult to use. These tips will help you to master the edger and reduce the inevitable swirls caused by the spinning disc.

  • Each phase of drum-sanding should be followed up with edging. For example, after drum-sanding at 36-grit, edge with 36 grit.
  • Under the sandpaper, place a nylon pad. This cushion reduces the risk of gouges and deep swirls. You can rent pads from the rental shop.
  • When the sandpaper becomes dull, replace it. The swirls created by the previous grit won’t be removed by dull paper.
  • To highlight any remaining swirls, place a flashlight on the floor at the end of the job. Next, sand the floor with 80- and 100-grit papers.
  • Warning to woodworkers: While you might be tempted to use your belt sander to edge, even the most powerful belt sander won’t cut as fast as an edger. A random orbit sander can also be used to smooth out swirls. Be aware that this can cause the wood to take a different finish than the rest. Hand-sanding can be safer. “Edging with a belt-sander is similar to digging a ditch using a trowel. It is possible, but it takes forever.

Don’t skip grits

Sanding scratches

The finish is now gone but there are still scratches that need to be sanded.

The first coarse grits are used to remove the finish from the wood and flatten it. This is not enough. To remove scratches from the previous grit, you need to go through eachgrit. For oak, which is coarse-grained, my job sequence is 24-36-60-60-80. Fine-grained woods like maple and birch are more susceptible to stains, so I use 100-grit.

“Timid sanding is the most common DIY error.” You’ll have a dull floor if you don’t sand enough.

Clean up between grits

Vacuuming dust, grit and other debris

To remove any coarse grit on the floor, vacuum after each sanding.

Before you start to use the next grit, sweep or vacuum the floor. Even the most powerful abrasives can leave behind a few granules when sanding. A 36-grit granule caught in a 60-grit belt can cause a nasty gash on the floor. Tape the vacuum nozzle to prevent damage to the floor.

Check the floor

Buff with a screen

To eliminate any fine sanding marks, use a buffer with a screen.

The floor will look great after you finish with the sanders. But don’t. Screening blends the edge-sanded area with the drum-sanded fields and removes sanding scratches. It can be done with a rental buffing machine, or with a sanding stick (such as the one used to sand drywall). You can use a 120- or 150-grit sandingscreen (just like the stuff used to sand drywall).

Is DIY a good idea?

DIY floor refinishing usually costs around $1 per square. ft. The average cost to hire a professional is $3-4 per square. Average cost per square foot, particularly for jobs larger than 500 square feet. My DIY customers save $1,000 by learning how to sand hardwood floors themselves. It’s not hard to do in a weekend. It’s worth calling around to find out the local pro rates.

You will need the following tools to help you sand hardwood floors.

You’ll save time, frustration and money by having all the tools you need for your DIY project on how to sand hardwood flooring.

  • Dust mask
  • Hammer
  • Nail set
  • Paint scraper
  • Shop vacuum
  • Tape measure
  • Wood chisel

A drum sander (rental), edger (rental), and buffer (rental are also required.

Materials required for this How to Sand Hardwood Floors Project

Don’t make last-minute purchases by having all the materials you need prepared ahead of time. Here is a list.

  • Masking tape
  • Plastic
  • Sanding discs and belts
  • Sanding screens

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