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Painting, decorating and home improvement tips blog

How to sand a floor

Posted by Adrian
November 23rd, 2013

How to sand a floor

You may want to have an alternative floor covering to carpet, but don’t want the expense of a hardwood or laminate floor. Well, if you have wooden floorboards you can sand them down and either paint them a colour or use a clear floor varnish to show off the beautiful wood, or stain them.

To sand the floor well you will need to hire a floor and an edging sander. Hiring these is relatively inexpensive at around £50 for the two sanders for a day, and you typically get 24 hours hire which should be enough time for an average sized room.

Before you start sanding

As you sand the floor you will make a lot of dust, so remove as much as you can from a room, cover wall and ceiling lights (as long as they are not in use) with black bags, put masking tape over wardrobe doors and cupboards to prevent dust getting in, you can also seal around any doors to try and contain the dust in the one room.

Safety first

You should wear a suitable dust mask, goggles and ear defenders whilst sanding. These can be bought from the hire shop when you pick up the sanders.

Preparation for sanding the floor

Before you start sanding you should fix any loose floorboards, replace any damaged or rotten boards, and nail punch raised nails as they can catch the sandpaper and rip it, and maybe even cause damage to the sander which could result in paying a charge for repair at the hire centre.

Start sanding

To start sanding decide on the coarse of sandpaper to use, you should of got three types when you hired the sander, a coarse, medium and fine. Depending on the condition of the floor will depend on what sandpaper to use, if the floor is in good condition and has not been previously painted or stained you can use the medium, otherwise start with the coarse.

You should keep the sander moving at all times whilst it is switched on to prevent making dips and low spots.

Sand diagonally across the boards, this will help level them off and remove a good amount of the surface to reveal the wood lower down. Once you have completed one diagonal sanding, go the other way, and them sand in the direction of the boards.

Once you are happy with the boards you can change to the medium grit, working in the direction of the boards go up and down overlapping each strip, once you have done this a couple of times, repeat the process with the fine sandpaper until the floor is smooth.

Finishing of the edges

To finish off the edges, use the edging sander, again use the coarse, medium and fine sandpaper. A word of warning, be careful around heating pipes as the sander could damage or even cut the copper pipe. You can use a scraper or chisel to get right into the corners and around pipework.

Varnished floor

Staining, painting or varnishing a floor

Once you have sanded the floor and you are happy with it, it is time to clean up all the dust, vacuum the floor in both directions, and around and under the skirting boards, to remove any fine dust left on the floor, use a soft cloth and white spirit to wipe over the boards, this has the added benefit of removing and grease that may be left on the boards.

At this stage you need to be aware that the floor is vulnerable to stains so be careful walking across it and don’t spill your tea or coffee over it as you stand back and admire your hard work.

Painting the floor

If you are varnishing, painting or staining the floor the principle is the same, use a roller to apply the paint, I prefer to use a small roller but you may find it easier with a 9 inch roller to cover the area quicker. You will also need a brush to paint around the edges of the skirting boards.

Make sure the paint you are applying is a good quality floor paint, start with painting around the edge and then rollering up to it, apply one coat and leave to dry. If it is a quick drying paint / varnish you can apply more coats the same day otherwise leave overnight to dry.

Lightly rub the floor down between each coat and remove the dust before apply a second coat.

For high foot traffic areas apply three good coats to the floor. Once you have applied all the coats leave to fully dry before putting back furniture etc into the room. You may consider adding felt pads to the bottom of furniture such as dining table and chairs to help protect the floor.

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