There are plenty of home jobs where a homeowner relies upon the professionals to get the work done, but in reality, with the required time, patience, tools and understanding, many of these jobs can be carried out to a great standard by yourself, saving you a lot of money in the long run. One of the more straightforward home reno jobs that even the most inexperienced of homeowners’ can take on themselves, is sanding wooden floors. By following this simple and easy guide, you will first become familiar with what equipment you need to carry out the job, how to prepare your hardwood floors before sanding, and the process and techniques to confidently have a crack at sanding your own wooden floors.
So get stuck into this guide, and when you’re ready to give sanding your own wooden floors at home a go, come and see the team at Hirepool for some quality friendly advice. We can fit you out with the right electric sanders you’ll need for the job and you’ll be good as gold! Once you’ve nailed your floor sanding job, check our comprehensive guide on polishing a wooden floor to complete your project.
There are a few important pieces of equipment that can help you achieve a professional result. Unless you’re planning on sanding floors for a living, your best move is hiring all the gear you need for the job.
The first piece of equipment you may need is a floor stripper. A floor stripper is a valuable tool as it does the hard work for you by removing floor materials such as lino and tiles, leaving behind a clear floor before sanding. While you can do this job with hand tools, if you’re working in a large area this tool is a game-changer.
Next, is a floor sander, which you will use to remove the top layer of your floor giving you a smooth, sanded surface across the majority of your wood flooring. At Hirepool we stock two different types of flooring sanders; a rotary floor sander or scrubber for use on specialist flooring types like cork, partek or particleboard, and a drum floor sander for standard hardwood boards or planks. In this guide we’ll be covering the use of a drum floor sander for hardwood floors as this is more commonly found in residential properties.
To get in around the edges of your skirting board where the floor sander can’t reach, you’ll need to grab yourself a floor edger sander.
Lastly, get yourself fitted with the appropriate safety gear for the job. You’ll need safety glasses, hand protection, fully enclosed footwear, a dusk musk due to the risks of inhaling wood dust and a good pair of earmuffs because it’s going to get noisy!
Like any good DIY job, achieving the best result is contingent on proper preparation.
Firstly, you should identify whether the type of flooring you have is suitable to be sanded. For example, flooring types such as parquet flooring may not be suitable because they are made up of many layers, with the top layer being solid timber. If you have parquet flooring at home, it can only be sanded a certain amount of times before this top layer wears away.
To prepare your floor before sanding, you must first remove the flooring material atop the hardwood floor with the floor stripper. The walk behind floor strippers from Hirepool are easy to use. With a sharp blade which can be adjusted to find the perfect angle to remove a range of flooring materials. After this, you can manually scrape off any old glue or polish that remains on the floor. Using floor wax remover will make removing old, stubborn wax a lot easier.
Once you have removed old floor coverings, we highly recommend that you seal off the room which you are working in from the rest of your home with drop sheets. This will prevent any dust from travelling through your house and settling on any surfaces.
Before you begin sanding, make sure you have an appropriate number of sanding belts. This will depend upon the size of the floor which you are sanding. It is also important that you choose the right sandpaper grit for the job at hand. The more coarse sandpaper you use, the more effective it will be at removing material. However, if the sandpaper you choose is too coarse, it can leave scratches when sanding floorboards. You also want to make sure you don’t choose sandpaper that is too fine and removes too little material or you could find yourself sanding away at your floors until the cows come home! Click here for a very handy guide on choosing the right sandpaper grit for your home reno job.
A handy tip to check for nails and staples that must first be removed, is to grab a one metre ruler and run it across the floor. If the ruler scratches over any part of the floor, you will need to remove the nails/staples that are located here before continuing. This is also a good time to identify and repair any damaged or loose floorboards before moving on.
You must first make sure to punch the floorboard nails so they are firmly embedded in the wood below the surface. You can do this by using a hammer and nail punch on every floorboard nail. This needs to be done to prevent the nails from catching and ripping the sanding belt.
Once your floor and room you are sanding in are set up, you can commence the sanding!
To prepare the drum sander, ensure that the dust bag is attached to the floor sander securely to catch any dust particles and prevent them from filling your workspace.
Before turning on the floor sander, raise the standing drum by pushing the designated handle forward. Once you’re in your starting position, you can switch on the floor sander. Make sure to let the motor reach full speed before continuing.
When you start to sand, make sure you are moving with the grain in the floorboards, as moving across the grain will cause the floor sander to scratch the floor. To begin sanding with the floor sander, whilst slowly moving forward, simultaneously lower the sanding drum onto the floor by pulling back the designated lever towards your body. It’s very important that you only ever travel in a forward motion and dont bring the floor sander backwards towards your body while the drum is lowered as this can damage the wooden flooring. When you reach the end of your forward path, you will need to lift the sanding drum off the floor by pushing the lever forward, prior to bringing the floor sander to a standstill. If you don’t lift the sanding drum before turning around to continue forward on the next section of the floor, you will cause scours and scratchings in the floor. By ensuring the drum is always briefly raised at the beginning and end of each path, you will avoid causing any depressions in the floor.
Repeat step 5, keeping sure to always follow the grain, until you have sanded the entire reachable surface of the floor. Remember to remove and empty the dust catch bag often to avoid it overflowing and entering the room.
Once you have sanded as much of the area as is possible with the floor sander, it’s time to grab your edging sander. The edge sander will allow you to sand the remaining areas that the floor sander couldn't reach (except for in the very tight corners). Remove the old disc from the edge sander by removing the locking nut and washer and replace with a new one, locking the new disc in place with a lock nut and washer. Make sure that the edge sander is tilted off of the floor to ensure the sanding disc isn’t in contact with the wooden flooring while the sander builds up speed. Once the sander has reached full speed, you can use the edging sander in a circular motion in the corners of the room where the floor sander couldn’t reach. As the edge sander is a disc sander (uses a circular sandpaper disc) and you will be working in the corners, it’s unavoidable to be going against the grain at times with this machine. Therefore when using an edge sander, you must use a disc with a sandpaper grit that isn’t too coarse, to avoid scratching the floor.
Once you have finished with the edging sander, you can finish off the job with a belt sander. For small areas like bathrooms or wardrobes where the drum sander cannot fit, you can use a belt sander for the entire floor area. Always start with coarse sandpaper and work to a finer grit for a smoother finish. Now you’re ready to finish your floorings with carpet, tile or polish for a classic finish. [link to polishing a wooden floor guide when live]
At Hirepool we have a variety of sanders for hire to help you achieve the smooth hardwood floor of your dreams. You can order equipment easily online or get in touch with your local branch to talk about selecting the right gear for your reno project.