4 Blunders That Frequently Occur During DIY Wood Floor Sanding
The biggest mistake is usually assuming that the project will be simple. After all, it just involves moving the sander around the surface and watching it grind away the old finish coats, right? The professionals make it look easy as well. All that you need will be to rent a machine and gets started, and it will probably take you just a day or to- or so it would seem. This is far from the truth. The tips and hacks that are obtained from online videos and blogs are not comparable to the rigorous training that the professional technicians have been put through, plus the years of experience they have garnered while providing the services to both residential and commercial clients. Just what can go wrong? Here is a look at the mistakes DIYers usually make during the floor sanding.
- Sanding too much
This can happen in different ways. For instance, there are those who may carry out the sanding with too coarse of a grit level, which ends up eating deeper into the wood than expected. There are also instances when one moves too slowly over the floor, such that the sander ends up grinding away more of the wood tissue. Too much sanding is irreversible. It reduces the number of times that the floor can be sanded and refinished in future, while also putting the structural integrity of your installation at risk.
- Not sanding enough
On the other end of the spectrum, there are those with the fear of sanding away too much of the wood, such that patches of the existing finish are not even removed. In fact, there have been scenarios where the DIYer starts out the sanding with a 120 grit sandpaper. This is too fine for the job, and will barely get the task done. Yes, the underlying wood will not have been affected, but this defeats the purpose of the sanding and refinishing process. Without the old finish being removed, the new one that is to be applied will not bond properly with the floor, resulting in all sorts of issues- from the colour not being yielded as expected, to the protective attributes of the lacquer or varnish applied being compromised.
- Uneven sanding
For the sanding to be successful, the surface should be smooth and even. Improperly moving the sanders across the surface, causes some sections to be oversanded, and others lightly sanded. The end result is sections having patches of old finish, and others having dips. Oversights like staining the sander when the drum is in contact with the ground causes it to spin on one spot, creating a divot. On other sections, the DIYer skips grit levels, hence resulting in scratches remaining on the floor. These all will have a negative effect on the new treatments that are to be applied. The sections where there is old finish will be unsuitable for being treated, as the wood stains, sealants, lacquers or varnishes that are to be applied will react differently to these areas, as opposed to those where the products are being applied onto the bare wood. The distorted effect can only be rectified with more sanding, since the applied coats will need to be removed- further racking up your floor renovation costs.
- Inadequate dust control
This is mostly attributed to the machinery that is rented for DIY jobs. There will be loads of dust generated during the sanding- there is no escaping that fact. Focus then goes to how this dust is handled. Without containment systems, the particles will end up all over the space, coating your furniture, getting into the sockets and electrical units, covering the window sills, and getting into the sinks, and even the HVAC units are not left behind. This creates a huge mess, that will need to be cleaned up. The fine sanding dust particles remain suspended in the air, and once inhaled lead to an assortment of health issues. The dust itself is an allergen, and triggers reactions once inhaled. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has also classified wood dust as a carcinogenic substance, causing cancer of regions such as the nasal cavity and the paranasal sinuses. The different wood species come with their various effects. For instance, Birch contributes to irritant dermatitis, Cedar is actually a sensitizer, increasing one’s susceptibility to reactions, and whose dust also causes eye irritation, conjunctivitis and rhinitis, sanding dust from Maple floors lead to rhinitis and trigger asthma attacks, and that from Teak is actually toxic, while Rosewood exacerbates eczema. Oak, mahogany, walnut- they all have their effects. Note that the dust also contains a cocktail of chemicals- those varnishes, lacquers, sealants and the wood stains that are being sanded off the surface. These include everything from toxins to pollutants, and you don’t want to expose yourself to the substances as you carry out the sanding, or increase the risk to the members of your household. Speaking of which, there are cases where the dust gets into the vents and ducting, where it keeps getting recirculated into the airspace, leading to prolonged exposure.
What’s more, any lingering dust will distort the finish coats, with the particles landing on the wet lacquers or varnishes, which then lock them in as they dry. This ruins the aesthetic appeal of the final result. You don’t want to be in a position where you’re being forced to contemplate redoing the sanding just a couple of days after you’ve just completed finishing your floor. Getting it right from the onset is key to avoid the loads of expenses that are incurred.
Nowadays, the sanders that are available for rent usually come with dust bags, which help in mitigating the issue. However, they are not as effective as the dustless floor sanding systems that are used by the professionals. Here, instead of the dust bag that is fixed to the sander, the units are attached to high-powered vacuum systems, and the suction involved picked up by over 99% of the dust that is generated during the process. It is then safely directed away through hoses into containment units, awaiting disposal.