Can you really sand engineered wood? After all, you have limited lippage- around 4 to 8 millimetres to work with, and after that you’ll be grinding through to the plywood. You don’t want to sand through to the subfloor and ruin your investment. But when the floor begins to look dull and dilapidated, it needs to be restored- there’s no question about it. So how do you go about it? Can your installation be spruced up and brought back to its glory? We’ll look into this and more.
Engineered wood flooring is basically plywood that has a veneer of fine hardwood on top of it.
Different wood species can be used, with Red Oak, Brazilian Cherry and Hickory being the most popular. This is different from laminate floors, where thin wood boards are pressed together, with an image of wood on top, which is covered with a wear layer. The base ply layers of engineered wood floors are of high quality, to enhance the strength of the structure. This also increases its moisture resistance compared to solid hardwood floors. The engineering design makes the flooring sturdier than conventional natural wood floors, and easier to install. One can have an installation that is glued, nailed or stapled to the subfloor, or a floating engineered flooring that rides independently of the subfloor underneath. However, it increases the level of complexity when it comes to refinishing it.
The Sanding Oversanding a single spot makes it uneven and distorted compared to the adjacent floor boards. This may occur when one is attempting to remove a stubborn stain, gouge or scratch. Focusing all that sanding action on one area ends up creating a bigger problem, sometimes going as far as developing a dip in the surface. Moreover, the dust that is generated obscures the surface, further affecting the outcome. Hence, going the DIY route can end up to messes being formed. Remember that any slight defect will be magnified once the finish is carried out. A professional crew will ensure the sanding is evenly carried out, to protect the flooring itself, and ensure quality results are obtained. Note that the wood is not being sanded to make it as smooth as glass. It simply needs a clean and even surface, that’s free of
scratches and dents. This will prepare it to receive the finish coats that are to follow.
The Refinishing Now clear out all the dust and debris. You’ll need plenty of vacuum power and it will be a monstrous cleaning job. This is yet another reason to hire professional services, who employ dustless floor sanding systems.
After the floor is clean, grab your rubber gloves and start with the staining. Plan your method of approach, since you don’t want to find yourself trapped in a corner, or walking all over the newly-stained sections. For instance, you can begin from the furthest wall, working your way to the exit. Apply the stain on the surface, following the direction of the wood grain. Allow for at least 2-5 minutes for the stain to soak into the wood, then wipe off the excess using paper towels. Thereafter, give the flooring around 24 hours to dry.
With the stain having dried, you can now add the gloss onto it. Prepare it according to the instructions of the product, and then gently brush it onto the surface. This is to avoid bubbles forming on the floor, since they will lead to unsightly results. Give the gloss 24 hours (or the time indicated on the product label) to dry.
Buff the floor using high grit sandpaper- going up to 220-grit if needed. Add an extra coat and also allow sufficient drying time. Lightly sand and buff, and you’re good to go.
Issues To Watch Out For • First, the working area should be well ventilated, especially when the finish products are being applied. • Nail and screw heads should be countersunk into the floor, to prevent them from damaging the sanding equipment. • The grit sequence is of utmost importance. One should go from coarse to fine grit, with the final passes being in the direction of the wood grain. This has a huge bearing on the quality of the results. What’s more, you don’t want too coarse a grit that it sands through to the subfloor. Bringing in the professional floor sanding crew will enable you to avoid the risks to your investment, and save your time, ensuring things are done right the first time around.
How Many Times Can The Engineered Wood Floor Be Refinished? Let’s do some quick maths. The wear layer (layer of solid wood on the engineered wood floor) is between 1 to 8 millimetres. During the refinishing process, specialist crews sand just 0.75 to 1 mm of the wood. Hence, with a wear layer of 8 mm, the floor can be refinished 8- 10 times. At 6 millimetres, it can be done 6-8 times, and at 4mm, there’ll be 4-5 times, and so on. Below 4 mm, things get dicey, and highly skilled services will be needed to ensure that the floor doesn’t get damaged. When the wear layer is 1mm or less, then it shouldn’t be sanded.
In addition to the thickness of the wear layer, more factors come into play. For instance, presence of deep scratches and set in stains in the flooring may require more of the surface to be grinded off. In cases where there are planks that have cupped or warped due to water damage, more material will also end up being removed. For extreme cases of floor damage, such as severe cupping, and uneven flows that have very low dips, the surface will require an inspection to ascertain the precise measures that will be taken on it.
Examining the condition of your engineered floor will enable you to know if it can be sanded. When you remove a floor grate, the edge profile of the wood will be exposed, which allows you to measure the thickness of the remaining wear layer. In case there aren’t any floor grates, you can remove the baseboard trim or the door trim, which will expose the edge. A tool like a small pry-bar may come in handy for lifting the edge. You can also get creative with a dental mirror tool, slipping it into the gap that’s between the edge of the flooring and the wall, in order to view the wear layer. As always, an expert flooring contractor will enable you to fully ascertain the condition of your installation, and the steps that will need to be taken to maintain it.
Refinishing The Finish When the wear hasn’t penetrated through to the floor itself and has only affected minimal sections of the existing finish, you don’t need to go all out with the sanding. You can test by putting some drops of water on the floor. If they bead up, then the current sealer is still in good condition. If the water penetrates into the wood, sanding and refinishing will be necessary. Otherwise, simply refresh the floor by having an extra layer of polyurethane sealer added to its surface. However, some light sanding and general cleaning will still be needed.
So, Can You Sand Your Engineered Wood Flooring? Yes. Get rid of that tatty old look and replace it with a brand new finish. Sometimes it’s not because of reversing widespread damage to the floor. One may simply want to change the stain colour of the wood. Either way, it can be done. It’s an intricate process and will require plenty of research on the floor sanders and edge sanders to work with that will be suitable for your type of floor, plus the skill of manoeuvring the machinery over the surface. Hence, it’s recommended that you leave the job to the professional floor sanding crew. That way you get to avoid the stress and hustle that come with the job, get it complete in minimal time, and obtain superior quality results.