When it comes to flooring, nothing compares to the natural beauty of hardwood flooring. However, to keep the timber looking great the surface will need to be sanded back from and refinished from time to time. Timber floor sanding can be done by a home DIY enthusiast, but it will take some preparation and the right tools.
- Gather your tools
As they say: the right tool for the right job. So before you start, make sure you have all the appropriate tools on hand. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Detail sander
- Drum sander
- Hand sander
- Wood putty
- Nail punch
- Dust mask
- Protective earmuffs
- Safety glasses
- Put on safety equipment
Sanding creates a lot of dust, which can irritate your eyes as well as cause respiratory problems. Before you begin any work, put on your safety equipment. This includes safety glasses and a dust mask. Have earmuffs ready to wear when you start using the sanders as well.
- Prepare the surface and surrounding area
Before you start sanding, you need to properly prepare the surface and the surrounding area. Remove all furniture and other materials from the room so the floor is clear to sand. If there is furniture that can’t be removed, make sure everything is covered with drop cloths and that the legs are taped to prevent damage while sanding. You should also tape up any other surface that could get damaged, like skirting boards and window or door frames.
Since the sanding will generate a lot of sawdust, you need to take precautions to ensure it doesn’t get into other areas of the house. Cover any vents and tape up cracks around doors and windows. It’s also worth taping up power points, as the sawdust can cause damage to your wiring.
Before sanding, you also need to make sure the floor is properly prepared. Remove any staples and check that any nails or screws are sitting at least 3mm below the surface of the wood. If not, use a hammer or nail punch to push them down below the level of the wood. Floor staples or nails can catch and rip the sandpaper, making your job more difficult and potentially damaging the sander.
Apply wood putty over the nails to ensure you have a flat surface to work with. Use a scraper to remove any excess putty.
- Set up the sander
Once the floor is prepared, you can load your sanders with sandpaper. The grade of sandpaper you need will depend on the job. For a floor that requires a lot of work, use 40-grit paper in the drum sander. Other floor sanding jobs may only need 60- or 80-grit paper. Remember, the lower the number, the coarser the sandpaper will be.
For your edge and detail sanders, put in a finer grit sandpaper than what you’ve used in the drum sander.
- Sand floor with drum sander
Before starting the drum sander, lower the drum to the floor with the lever on the side. This ensures a smooth sand and reduces the risk of you accidentally scratching the floor with the sander.
Follow the grain of the floorboards, pushing the sander forward one row at a time. Don’t rush and keep your pace even to get a smooth finish. When you finish a row, raise the drum using the lever, and then reposition yourself for the next row. Lower the drum and begin again.
Don’t forget to wear your earmuffs to protect your hearing.
- Sand edges with edge sander
Your drum sander won’t be able to reach into the edges around skirting boards or door frames. This is when you’ll need the edge sander. Go along the edges making sure you reach as much of the area as possible. Remember to keep the pace slow and even for a smooth sand.
- Use a detail sander for tight edges and corners
If there are any tight corners or spaces, you’ll need a detail sander. Just as you did with the drum and edge sander, stick to a slow and even space.
- Clean up dust
With the sanding done, you need to vacuum up the dust. If you intend to apply a finish to your floor, leftover dust can affect the end result. The dust can also irritate allergies.
Depending on the size of the floor, you can sand your floor in a weekend or less using our guide above. While it may be easier to call a professional, DIY can be the way to go to save on home renovations. Consider your budget and the size of the task and decide what is the best way forward.