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Safety Measures For Floor Sanding
DIY activities are something wonderful. There are some tasks which once accomplished, can bring a sense of joy purely because of the knowledge you did something well with your two bare hands. A spark of positive emotion knowing that you do not have to rely on others to get something done, that you have some hidden talent or ability beyond your current occupation.
For better or worse, floor restoration is not very popular as a DIY project. Some consider it easy only to realise they were wrong and eventually giving up. Others simply find the process boring and unrewarding. Third parties lack the will or the skill to finish the job. Make no mistake. When undertaking a floor restoration project (depending on the size and severity of the problem) you are in for a hard job. To be honest, even those that make a living with this profession will rarely say – ‘Hey, I love my what I do!’
Regardless of personal opinions, however, floor sanding and restoration can hide potential dangers. This is probably true for every craft but surprisingly many disregard sanding as simple and pays the price afterwards.
What Do You Need?
When talking about safety we have to cover everything from top to bottom. This includes personal protective equipment. The thing is, you don’t need protection just against possible incident during the floor restoration process. You also need it to keep you safe from exposure to certain chemicals many of which can be found on modern adhesives and floor finishing products. Don’t be fooled, even water-based finishes which are said to be relatively low on VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) can contain some nasty chemicals you don’t want to have around.
Personal Protective Equipment:
Ear Plugs/Defenders - Floor sanding equipment can produce a lot of noise which will damage your hearing if you are left without proper protection for prolonged periods. Using ear defenders can not only prevent this from happening but also make sure that the working process is more comfortable as a whole.
Dust Mask - Needed mostly when doing aggressive sanding, dealing with bitumen stains or stripping the old finish. Once certain chemicals become mixed with the sawdust while you sand the floor, they can freely enter your lungs unless you wear a mask.
Goggles - There is always a possibility that a sliver of metal can find its way into your eye. Once this happens, your vision will never be the same. Why take chances? Goggles are particularly useful during rough edge sanding and help keep your eyes safe by deflecting any potentially harmful particles.
Protective suit and gloves - Always help to have those, though, the suit may cause you to sweat a bit. Gloves will save you from getting your hands bruised and protect you from direct skin contact with some flooring products. Yes, the high solvent content in some floor finishes can lead to skin irritation and some say even worse things.
Knee pads. Many retired flooring experts complain about pain in the joints. Is there any price too high for your health? A fine expanded foam knee pad can also make it a lot more comfortable to work.
Good Preparation is the Key to Success
Before even thinking about sanding, you must make sure that your floor is ready. The first step is to find out if you have any protruding screws, nails, staples because they can hurt you or damage your expensive hired equipment. Nails must be punched in until no more than 3 mm is out. Clout nails should be removed entirely because they can, at some point, split the wood.
Cables - you won't believe how many cables can be found near your floor – telephones, alarms, TVs, Internet and God knows what. Make sure to fix them in place with duct tape. Generally, remove anything even remotely breakable like pictures or mirrors.
Floor finishes are dangerous! We cannot stress this enough. Many floor finishes are flammable and contain chemicals which can trigger asthma, allergies, cause damage to the reproductive or the nervous system or even. There are multiple cases of ill-prepared floor sanders working in the US who used flammable finishes carelessly and died in flash fires. When purchasing a floor finish or hiring sanding equipment, make sure to ask a lot of question because ignorance kills … literally. Even better, you can use floor finishes made from natural products which do not contain any chemicals. While usually less durable, they are also a lot safer.
A Few General Tips
Using floor sanding machines carelessly can be dangerous for you. Make sure that you always think and consider before taking action. If you are not aware or confident about how to properly use the equipment, ask for professional advice. Here are some quick hints which would ensure your safety while doing the wood floor restoration in your house.
- Use safety equipment such as glasses, masks and ear defenders during the floor restoration process.
- Clear the areas before floor sanding. It helps avoid injury and damage to the machinery.
- Mind cables in the area.
- Mind the moving parts of the sanding equipment.
- Use sufficient number abrasives and change when needed.
- Empty dust bags frequently. Full dust bags prevent the sanding machine from working efficiently.
- Empty and store the dust from the sanding in a fireproof container outside of the house.
- Work consciously and carefully with hired equipment. Remember that it is your responsibility to return them in their original condition. You are liable for any damages.
- Adjust the floor sanding machines only after a consultation with an expert.