6 Mistakes Commonly Witnessed During DIY Floor Sanding Jobs
The sanding process comes with its fair share of risks. This is not a surprise, given that it’s one of the most laborious stages of the floor renovation project. There are lots of factors involved, from the equipment being used, the type of flooring being dealt with, the veneer that is available for sanding- otherwise one will sand too much into the wood and permanently ruin the boards, to the skill required to properly operate the machinery. Taking on this task as a DIY job often leads to lots of frustration and extra expenses to remedy the damages that result from blunders that are made. In fact, it is common to find DIYers giving up midway and calling in the professionals to complete the task and rectify the problems that were created. Right off the bat, this is not your average renovation task. Without the right equipment to handle the task, it will end up taking far much longer than anticipated. Without the requisite skills to handle it, you risk destroying the floorboards- and the only recourse will be to have them replaced. Here is a look at the common mistakes that DIYers make in the course of the job:
- Starting with fine grit sandpaper
This is usually because of a fear of sanding too much of the wood and ruining the floor. So, one starts the sanding with 120-grit sandpaper. What happens? They end up not even removing much of the previous finish itself. Sure the floor may look nice and clean, but when you apply the new finish over patches of the old one, it will have a different rection as opposed to that which will be witnessed on the sections with bare wood. This leaves the floor with a weird variation of colours, completely different from the intended result. Coarse grits are needed to sand through to the bare wood.
- Skipping grits
While you may find blogs and video tutorials telling you that it will only take 3 sanding grit passes to fully sand a floor, this will easily wreck your installation. For instance, if the floor was really damaged and scarred, that it necessitated you to start at a 16-grit level, skipping all the way to the medium grit 36, then to the finer 80 grit, will result in lots of scratches being left behind on the unit. The grit sequence needs to be followed appropriately, with all the finer grits following the initial one used being required to be applied.
- Overusing the sandpaper
It is bound to dull quickly, since the sanding process is an abrasive job. Once it is dull it will not remove the scratches effectively, However, with the DIYer proceeding to use a sandpaper that is clearly dull such that it doesn’t remove the previous scratches that had been left behind by the previous grit passes, it result in more time being spent on the task- and eventual exasperation of the DIYer.
- Insufficient sanding
There’s no getting around it: floor sanding is physically straining. Pushing around that heavy gear and spending hours making repeated passes on the different sections of the surface can wear one down. At the start, as one removes the top layers of the finish and exposes the wood, there will be a huge difference. However, after most of the varnish has been removed and focus shifts to getting rid of the scratches and smoothening out the surface, the progress will appear to be much slower. What’s more, one needs to ensure that the surface is flat, and the edges are worked on for uniformity. Lots of sweat equity goes into this- and more is required during the DIY projects due to the use of low capacity machinery. Dealing with uneven sections, shadows at the edges or the middle of the floorboards, when they are concave and convex respectively, can also be frustrating. Working on those last bits is especially exasperating, as they seem non-existent, yet skipping them will ruin the quality of the finish. The sanding needs to be carried out until all marks and shadows have been got rid of, leaving the floorboards looking brand new and opening up the wood grain to enable the treatments that will follow to bond strongly with the wood.
- Rushing the edging
Dealing with the edges themselves is a complete pain. Those hours spent hovering over the edging sander can really put your back under pressure- especially after you’ve just come from using the drum sander on the rest of the flooring. As such, the DIYer may quickly rush through the edging process. However, this leads to differences in the texture and colour when the finish treatments are applied. Just like the rest of the floorboards, the edges will also need to be evenly sanded, to the bare wood, and the surface smoothened, in order for the finish treatments that will be applied to react properly with it.
- Ignoring health and safety concerns
Conventional floor sanding methods can be dangerous to your health, and that of your family. One of the biggest risks lies with wood dust. Those fine dust particles that get airborne and are inhaled lead to reactions in the affected persons. These can range from the expected coughing and sneezing, cases of watery eyes and an irritated throat, to headaches and shortness of breath. Asthma attacks can be triggered, conditions like bronchitis getting worsened, dermatitis for those whose skin is sensitive, and reduced lung capacity on prolonged exposure to the particles. This is why professionals work with dustless floor sanding systems that get rid of over 99% of the contents that are generated, and also wear gear like respirators to protect themselves as they go about the task. There are also dangers that come when working with the equipment itself, with all the power cables, heavy machinery and connections that are involved. A simple issue like ignoring that nailhead that is sticking out of the floor will damage the sanding belt of the equipment being used, meaning that you will have extra costs to meet in order to make repairs to the machinery.