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9 Secrets for More Efficient DIY Wood Floor Sanding
Sanding is a crucial part of the maintenance and improvement in the condition and appearance of every wooden floor. It gets rid of the tired, aged, distressed, and dull appearance, it removes all sorts of imperfections, flaws, and issues, minor and sometimes major ones. Sanding is recommended for improving the stability, solidness, and durability of real wood flooring. Additionally, wood floor sanding ensures better insulation, more beautiful and elegant appearance, even a full transformation of the surface if desired, longer lasting protection and hard-wearing power. Finally, it is very beneficial because it opens the pores of the wooden structure and prepares the floorboards for staining, re-finishing, sealing.
Once you know all the benefits of wood floor sanding you may consider it for your favourite solid, engineered wood, or parquet floor. However, for some reason finding a reliable contractor may be impossible for you, or you are keen on attempting a DIY project. While DIY wood floor sanding is not necessarily an easy job and it often takes a lot of knowledge, experience, and specific set of skills to do the job the right way and ensure great results, the process can also be a subject of DIY-ing. However, before you start such a challenging project all by yourself, make sure that you take your time and do good research on the topic, go through all the information available, especially if you don’t have any previous experience. We hope that this guide will help you achieve the best results and ensure a stress-free experience and minimum disruption.
Before you start with the DIY project you should prepare for what is coming. Besides preparing mentally for the possible challenges, make sure you have the right accessories and tools too. Of course, on the first place, you should make sure that you have everything needed to protect yourself during the process and that includes a dust mask, in this case, you can opt for a disposable one or a respirator one, safety glasses, hearing protection, etc. Keep in mind that sanding is a noisy and messy process and the fine sawdust produced during the treatment of the wooden surface can be dangerous for your lungs and eyes, so always be protected when working on your floor.
What are the different sandpaper grits?
One of the first things you will learn is that sandpaper comes in varying grits and each of them has a different purpose. When you look at packages of sandpaper you will see descriptions such as coarse, medium, and fine, along with numbers such as 80, 100, 150, 220. The grading system of sandpaper depends on its coarseness or how quick it removes material and strips off surfaces. The coarser the grit is, the more material it will remove but it will leave the surface rough. Medium grit is what will leave the floor’s surface smoother. However, it removes less material and more slowly compared to the coarse grit. The lower number of the sandpaper packaging shows a higher coarseness, while the top number of 220 means a very fine grit that will leave the surface very smooth and directly ready for the application of the finish or stain.
How to achieve a smooth surface of the floor?
Sanding is the process that smooths the surface of the floor. Thanks to the coarseness of the sandpaper, it gets rid of all imperfections, issues, and flaws that make the surface less smooth, such as bumps, dirt buildups, chipped finish, dents, scratches, etc. You always start the process with coarser sandpaper that will remove the main defects. Then, you progress with less coarse sandpaper that will gradually smooth out the surface of the floor. For instance, you can begin with 80-grit sandpaper, then next you can switch to 100-grit and finish with 120-grit for a perfect smoothness and even and uniform surface. However, if you are not happy with the overall result, make sure to use 150-grit sandpaper that will provide you with the flawless smoothness you are expecting.
Don’t skip a grit
It is very important to move progressively and change the sandpaper grits smoothly and gradually. Every of the more coarser sandpaper grits are preparing the surface for the finer ones and this is why it is important to go as recommended by the professionals. Each step of the sanding process and each grit is important and essential, each grit contributes to the overall effect and results you are aiming towards. So make sure that you have an assort of grits and you use them gradually by leaving each one to do its job and contribute to the process.
Sanding with the grain – what does that mean?
It is one of the most crucial things you need to remember and do when DIY sanding your floor. The grain or the wood fibres are running the length of a board. You want to sand the floorboards in the same direction as the direction of the grain. Otherwise, sanding against the grain means that you risk scratching the floorboards significantly and even distressing them to an extent that you will soon or later be in need of a serious repair project or even replacing the floor.
When sanding, use light
Good lighting is essential for achieving the best results. The good and strong light will show you all the possible fine scratches and marks left during sanding. You want to get rid of those before applying the stain and the finish because the pigments of the staining product will highlight even the finer imperfections and make them more noticeable. From now one, the only way to fix that is starting the whole process all over again and sanding the surface. Make sure to choose a light that is not only strong but mobile and movable enough so you can easily and conveniently use it whenever you are moving around. Make sure to position the light in a way that it shoots across the surface of the floor because this is the way to “catch” all scratches and imperfections left.
How to sand fast?
The fastest and easiest way to treat the entire surface is by using a sanding machine. A few types of machines to be exact, such as edge, palm, random orbit sander, etc. Now, we know that purchasing professional equipment just to complete your DIY project is pretty much pointless and definitely very expensive.
Thankfully, you can opt for just renting the equipment from your local professional company. In case this is not a possibility for you, we highly recommend you choosing a professional service instead. Keep in mind that even if you are able to rent a sanding machine, you cannot go with one type and skip the rest. Just like with the grits, each type of machine/tool contribute to the whole project and has a different purpose. If one of them is missing, you won’t be able to enjoy flawless results.
Sand as you go
Newly installed wood floors are also in need of a thorough sanding when unfinished. Unfinished boards have to be prepared for the application of finishes, stains, etc. Not to mention that during the transportation process some boards may be left scratched and marked and this is when a bit of sanding comes into place. However, a wood floor installation project takes long enough and when we add the sanding, finishing, staining, and even the waiting time for drying of the products, you can assume that you won’t be able to use the floor for weeks. This is why we recommend you to sand the floor as you go and not wait until the floor is fully assembled and fitted. Otherwise, it will take you a lot of time, because you have to wait long enough for the glue to tighten, for example. In addition, sanding in areas and step-by-step is significantly easier, especially when it comes to a DIY project and a novice.
Remove the dust after sanding
Making sure that the surface is completely clean and free of dust between every round of sanding is essential, to say the least. The finer dust left from treating the woodworks as an abrasive that can permanently scratch the surface of the raw wood. In addition, dirt and dust buildups will look extremely ugly and noticeable once you finish the floor with the sealing and staining products that will only enhance any imperfection. Thankfully, nowadays there is advanced machinery available for sanding that can collect the majority of the dust along the way. However, this does not mean that you still don’t have to vacuum between every round, it will just be less mess and stress to deal with.
Make sure that all nails are nailed down
Before you start sanding the floor if the floorboards are secured and fitted with nails, make sure there is not a single nail head that is popping up. Nail them down before you start, otherwise, the nail may get caught by the sanding machine and destroy it, plus it will scratch the surface with very deep and impossible to fix marks and dents.
Sometimes you may find out that the floor has some noticeable gaps between the floorboards. Worry not, the easiest way to fill these gaps in is by collecting the sawdust after the first round of sanding, then mixing it with resin and placing the substance in the gaps. Once the gap filling mixture is completely dry, you can carry on with sanding the surface. Using the sawdust of your own project means that you will be able to achieve a complete match in colour.
Once your project is finished and you are happy with the results, it is time to carry on with finishing the surface. Protecting the surface with a finishing project is essential for making sure your floor is lasting and you will be able to enjoy its beauty and durability for decades. Take your time and do research on what finishing product is the best option for you.
Some floor requires a heavy-duty, hard-wearing finish that will survive the heaviest of footfall and the highest of traffic, while for other floors you can go with simpler finishing products such as oils that will enhance the natural colour and texture of wood and nourish and strengthen the wood from within while penetrating into its porous structure. Also, make sure to consider which finish will be easier for you to keep clean, maintained, and scratch-free.