Anyone can start a floor sanding project but not anyone can properly finish a floor sanding project. For a professional floor sanding specialist to reach that high level of smoothness on your floors he had to do an advanced training course and then work as a trainee for a few years. But many people seem to think that it must be pretty easy so why not do it yourself for cheaper?
To be able to start a floor sanding project you will need some basic tools. You can hire the floor sanding equipment from your local hire centre. Here is the list of the tools required:
a. Floor Sander – belt or drum
b. Floor Edger
c. Sandpaper belts or sheets starting from 36 grit up to 120 grit
d. Sanding discs starting from 24 grit to 120 grit
f. Dust mask
h. Brush & Tray
i. Roller & Handle
j. Masking Tape
k. Small Sander
l. Hammer & Hand Saw
Assess the job. Find all the nails and hammer them down. Repair any imperfections. Prepare the room for the first sanding.
The first sanding can make or break the floor. If the floor is very uneven or if there is paint on the floor or carpet glue, it would be a good idea to start the floor sanding operation with 0.24 grit sandpaper. You cannot start with 0.24 grit sandpaper and then move to 0.60 grit sandpaper because the scratches created by the 24 grit sandpaper have to be removed in stages. You start with 0.24, then 0.36, then 0.40, then 0.60, then 0.80, then 100 grit. Otherwise, the scratches created by the first sanding will be visible after you apply the first coat of varnish.
If the floor looks ok, start with 0.60 grit sandpaper and follow the process up to 100 grit. There is no magic remedy, you will have to take your time. Floor sanding is a slow process and the more time you spend doing it now the better the finished result.
After you have sanded the whole room, you will need to use the edger. The edger is designed to remove all the imperfections from around the skirting board area and any areas where the big sander does not fit. Take your time and use your common sense. Spend the same amount of time on all areas.
After you are done with 100 grit, you will have to start the fine sanding. At this stage, you need to assess the floor and if there are issues or gaps, this is the time when you fill them in. Sand the floor one more time with fine 120 grit sandpaper and save all the dust. In a bucket or tray, mix the sand from the sand bag with a gap filler. You can buy professional solvent gap fillers from Junckers and Bona. Junckers Prefill, Junckers Basefill or Bona Mix & Fill are three of the most popular gap fillers. Mix 1 L of gap filler with some of the dust until the mix looks like a thick cream. With a wide scraper, fill up all the small gaps 0 to 0.5 mm. Take a 1 hour break until the gap filler dries. 1 hour later sand the whole floor again with 150 grit sandpaper. If you have done it right, all the gaps should be filled and it should look like one flat surface. Job done. Prepare for finishing.
Vacuum the whole floor a couple of times and inspect the floor. If you are happy with the finish, you can apply the first coat of primer. Use a small brush and start with the areas around the skirting board and all the narrow areas. The open spaces you can prime with a roller (any short hair roller). The most popular floor primers:
A primer is not a varnish. The primers job is to even up all the imperfections on the floor and to create a flat base for the varnish. A quality water based floor primer will seal all the pores and it will not allow the wood to absorb more varnish than needed. A primed floor will dry faster.
It should take around 1 hour for the floor to dry after priming. One more sanding is required if you are looking for a perfect smooth surface. After the primer has dried, most of the tiny spikes that were left after the last floor sanding operation, will have gotten hard and it will make the floor feel rough. A quick re-sanding with 150 to 180 grit sandpaper, will remove all these spikes and will leave the floor perfectly smooth and ready for varnishing.
Apply the first coat of varnish from north to south. Apply very thin coats. Allow up to 2 hours to dry and then apply the second coat of varnish. Job done. It sounds complicated but if you follow the process, the results will amaze you.
Avoid solvent based floor varnishes. Solvent based floor varnishes stink and takes many hours to dry. There are quality water based floor varnishes available that do the same job, look better and are odour free. Use two pack water based floor varnishes to enhance the protection.
Staining & repairing wood floors is a bit more complicated and you should only start these jobs if you are very handy at DIY jobs.
A domestic floor finish is a good quality floor finish designed to last for a few years on a standard house or apartment floor. Most domestic floor finishes are 1 pack – a varnish or hardwax without hardener. A commercial floor finish is a two pack (usually) floor finish with hardener. The varnish itself comes in 4.5 L + 1 bottle of 500 ml hardener. When the varnish is mixed with the hardener, the mixed content becomes very hard and much more durable than domestic varnishes.
The difference in price between domestic and commercial floor varnishes can be very high. In most cases it is around 100%. Most brands of floor finishes offer domestic single pack floor finishes and commercial two pack floor finishes. The quality, durability and drying times differ between domestic and commercial finishes, the commercial floor finishes are much better as they are designed to withstand heavy traffic.
Why opt for a domestic floor finish? Well, we cannot offer a definite answer. We highly recommend high traffic floor finishes to all our customers, both domestic and commercial. In fairness, you will pay a bit extra for a two pack floor finish but you will benefit from a higher quality, longer lasting finish getting years of extra traffic, you will not have to pay to have your floors re-sanded for at least 10 years.
The truth is that most floor sanding companies do not explain the difference between the two options to their customers or will charge you for a two pack finish when a cheaper product is used. Most people think that the only difference between a domestic water based floor varnish and a high traffic commercial two pack floor varnish is the price.
Let`s say that you live in a home with 2 kids, 1 dog and a fair amount of daily traffic. A domestic floor varnish like Junckers Strong Plus or Bona Mega will offer superb protection for about 5 years. To varnish your living room you will need to use around 5 L of varnish and 5 L of primer, approximately 120 euro worth of products.
Let`s say again that you live in a home with 2 kids, 1 dog and a fair amount of traffic. A commercial two pack floor varnish like Junckers HP Commercial Floor Lacquer or Bona Traffic HP Floor Varnish will offer around 10 years of protection. For a living room floor you will need 5L of primer & 5L of varnish. You will have to spend around 200 euro.
Can you notice the difference? If you spend 100 euro extra when having the floors done you will get 5 years extra durability on the finish. It is well worth it. We advise our customers to pay a small bit extra to use a two pack finish and save money in the long run.
Junckers HP Commercial Floor Lacquer has added protection against chemicals. For a domestic customer, this is great news. Unlike a shop, a pub or a school, you don`t have the finances to buy floor buffers and special wood floor cleaners. You are likely to mop your floors (not recommended) with universal floor cleaning products. Most other brands of floor varnishes are not suitable for wet washing with acidic chemicals, but Junckers HP Commercial Floor Varnish is different. The varnish won`t dull up and won`t look tired after washing with acidic chemicals.
Ask your floor sanding contractor for advice. Ask about the best options and the most durable floor finishes. Reduce the time between floor sandings by 100% with very little cost. It will be well worth it.
Permanent floor finishes have not yet been invented so you will have to refinish your floors regularly. Regularly can mean different things for different people. A commercial floor with a lot of traffic will have to be refinished much more often than a domestic floor with normal domestic traffic.
Even if the wood floor is not subjected to a lot of traffic, the finish on the floor will change colour and look a bit tired after few years. There are a few factors which can make your wooden floors look more worn out and jaded than they should be.
a. Wrong cleaning products
b. A lot of direct sunlight
c. A lot of heavy traffic
d. Too much water
Here are some of the most common reasons why a floor needs to be refinished. There are high traffic water based floor varnishes that are designed to take a lot of use and abuse but all will eventually wear off. A floor sanding company needs to be contacted once in a while (every 3 years) to assess the wood floor. Even if the floor looks clean, a trained eye will be able to see imperfections and issues, if there are any issues.
Wood floors have to be refinished regularly. Waxed wood floors should be refreshed every 6 months. Refreshing a waxed floor is a pretty easy operation and no training is required. Floors that are finished with a varnish can also be refreshed or sealed with a water based wood floor polish. Solid wood floors are designed to last for a lifetime if properly maintained.
Have a look under the heaters, around the kitchen area, at door entrances etc. to see if you notice black spots on your floors. Black spots are a sign of water damage and you need to act fast to sort it out and prevent further damage. There are many floor sanding companies in Dublin that would love to help you out. Bear in mind, it is cheaper to prevent than repair.
*** most floors have to be refinished every 5 years. If there is a lot of traffic, the periods between floor refinishing is reducing by 50%***