The sanding of timber floors takes off the top surface area of the timber to prepare it for receiving the final protective finishes of polyurethane or oil. This is done using different grit sandpaper starting with the roughest, then the medium, and finally to the finest grit sandpaper. The sandpaper is usually stuck or put on a sanding machines that make the job go faster and smoother.
Several types of timber floors can be sanded – some harder than others – depending on the density of the timber. Some engineered timber can be sanded while others cannot. If a homeowner doesn’t know the type of timber floor that has been installed in the house or building, an in-floor vent should be taken out if the floor has them and look at the edges of the cut wood. If the floor turns out to be a laminate floor, sanding is not an option. Engineered wood is usually a thin piece of real hardwood on top to cheaper plywood. It can be sanded once or twice if thicker but not more than that. It’s probably better to replace the engineered floor rather than risk sanding it. Solid timber can definitely be sanded if it’s at least 2 cm thick or more. Very old homes like historical homes that have the original timber floors can be sanded if the floors are thick enough.
Before sanding begins, the floor should have been examined for damage and missing or protruding nails. The floor should be free of debris and the area flat. Protruding nails should be punched in deeper so the sandpaper won’t get caught and ripped or the machine damaged. Skirting boards do not have to be removed, but if not already installed, sanding should occur first. Broken floor boards should be replaced and holes filled with wood filler. A good vacuum of the floor should be done as well. When the wood filler is completely dry, proceed with the first pass of sanding. The area being sanded should be sealed off to prevent dust from travelling and contaminating the rest of the home or building.
A large drum/belt sander should be used for the main floor space. Smaller areas and edges that the main sander cannot reach should be done with the edge sander which is a smaller hand-held sander. The old top coat or stain should be sanded with the roughest grit of sandpaper. When the first pass is done with the large machine, the first pass for the edges and smaller areas should also be done with the smaller edger sanding machine. The machines should be hooked up to a vacuum to collect the dust or should have a vacuum and bag attached already. Sanding without these attachments is hazardous and spreads too much dust everywhere. Even though there are vacuum attachments, there will still be dust on the floor after sanding so vacuum the floor well after the first pass so the dust won’t stick to the sandpaper and interfere with the next pass.
The used large-grit sandpaper should be removed and replaced with the medium-grit sandpaper on all of the machines. The second pass is done on the larger surface area with the medium-grit sandpaper. Once the large surface area is done, the smaller areas and the edges are also done but with the handheld edger sander. Again, vacuum the area well after the second sanding pass. The third and final sanding pass should be done with the fine-grit sandpaper. Sometimes a different machine is used to do the fine-grit sanding on the larger surface areas for the final sanding. The smaller areas and edges are done by the same edger machine for the fine-grit sanding. Vacuum well after the last sanding. The floor is then ready for the application of the chosen finish.
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People who have the time and money to hire professionals like Floor, a floor sanding company, will enjoy having a newly sanded and finished floor that exceeds industry standards without having to do backbreaking labour. Though some homeowners can sand their floor themselves, sanding a floor is labour-intensive and if not experienced can damage the timber floor or make mistakes that are either not repairable or will need to be re-done by professionals anyway. Before tackling a floor sanding job, it’s best for homeowners to get practical advice from experts and do some research on how to sand their specific type of timber floor.