The age of refined bloggers and online tutorials has spawned numerous DIY enthusiasts across all niches. Everyone wants to cut on costs, reducing the burden on their budget, while getting that rush of satisfaction that comes with completing a “job for the professionals” by yourself. It’s exciting and enthralling, with discoveries being made, and nifty tricks that make life more interesting. There also those who want to challenge themselves by learning a new skill, and conducting their own repairs and maintenance tasks. That way they can have things done in their own way, at their own pace, and in their own time. That’s great and all, when dealing with many projects around the home or working space. However, when it comes to floor maintenance, that’s a whole different league. It’s a daunting task, with plenty of room for error. In fact, just the amount of workload involved alone leads to some DIY enthusiasts giving up midway and picking up the phone to call the specialists. You can spend hours sanding a single living room and barely making any headway, only being covered in loads of dust and prolonging the length of time the floor will remain out of commission. But it’s not just about the sweat, you breaking your back, and enduring weeks of inconveniences. There is real risk of damage to your investment. Here are two of the biggest mistakes made by DIY enthusiasts during floor restoration projects:
- Getting the wrong sanding equipment
First off, floor sanding is a heavy duty task. The surface is coated with tough compounds that are designed to withstand abrasion. Grinding through to the bare wood is no mean feat, and without proper tools, a job that could have taken mere hours will spiral over entire days. There different kinds of equipment available, from orbital sanders, drum and edger sanders, each with their intended purpose. One needs to apply the appropriate tool at the required section, otherwise the sanding will get done wrongly. For instance, starting out with planetary sanders that lack the aggressiveness to grind away the old finish effectively will cause you to spend hours in a dust filled room having barely made a dent. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Machinery that’s available from rental stores is different from that which is used by floor care specialists. For starters, the capacity is lower. In order to make the equipment portable and reduce the effort required to manoeuvre it on surfaces, the size of component parts is reduced. You can have a 120v belt sander, while for the same category the professionals will use one that runs on at least 240v power. The weight is also reduced. The weight itself is a huge factor. Lots of pressure is needed to be applied on the floor during sanding, to ease up the process. When you have a light machine that runs on reduced power simply because the dealer wanted it to fit in the back of your family car, then the efficiency of your work is affected. There’s a reason why professional floor sanding companies invest loads of capital in industrial grade equipment and even truck mounted systems to serve their clients. From the power needed to sand through to the bare wood, all through to the vacuum systems to suction away the dust on the go. Speaking of dust, the rental machines come with dust bags that can barely keep up with the huge loads generated. In addition to this, the suction power is reduced. The result? Fine and coarse dust particles end up covering the surfaces in your establishment, meaning that you’ll have a monstrous cleaning job awaiting you, smack in the middle of your floor restoration project. All this is assuming you actually get well-maintained equipment. In case the dealer hasn’t properly taken care of the tools, the damages will reflect on the flooring. Equipment that is out of tune will lead to issues like chatter marks being left on the surface of the floor, which will become unsightly blemishes once the finish is applied. Even the quality of the sandpaper used factors in. Low-grade sandpaper ends up clogging with the finish long before it has dulled. You end up going out to buy more sandpaper, and material costs spiral out of control. When you do find quality equipment, using it is a different issue. That brings us to the next pitfall.
- Improper machine usage
Without requisite skills in operating the floor sanders, there are high chances of ruining the wood floor. For instance, one may drop the drum without having the sander in motion. This causes it to spin on one spot. You get a small divot forming at best, or creating a hole in your floor at worst. Improper edging is also a concern. Proper sequence also comes in when using the sandpaper. This involves starting out with coarse grit such as 36, following through with the finer grits. Going the reverse, or starting out with too fine a grit- like 100 and above, will mean that the existing finish won’t be removed. This not only wastes your time, but it leaves patches of the old finish on the floor, which will interfere with the new coats that are to be applied. They won’t bond well with the surface, reducing the strength of the protection that they provide, and the reactions will result in unsightly colourations on your flooring. How the machines are used in relation to each other is also a factor. For instance, starting out with the belt sanders to remove the finish, then smoothening the surface with the planetary sander. Even those tiny discrepancies will be glaring errors once the floor is finished. Then there’s the speed with which the sanders are moved on the surface of the floor. Going too slow means that the sanders eat much more into the wood that is intended, which reduces its structural integrity. It also reduces the number of times that the floor can be sanded and restored in future. The same case applies when one decides to focus on one area for too long, perhaps because there was a huge scratch, gouge, or set-in stain. Dips forming in your floor is not how you want things to go. On the other side of the spectrum is one moving too fast, most likely due to fear of sanding too much into the wood. In this case, the sander barely has any time to remove the existing finish, which becomes a problem when the new coats are to be applied. In addition to this are oversights such as failing to countersink nail and screw heads that are popping out of the floor. This causes damage to component parts such as the sanding belts passing over them, leading to more cost implications when making the repairs.
Why put yourself through all this? Don’t waste your time and energy, and put your floor at risk. Avoid the hustle and frustrations by hiring professional floor sanding and refinishing services.