DIY Floor Sanding Can Go Terribly Wrong
DIY is the in-thing for many home improvement projects, right? Making those quick fixes around the house can save you money, and you get to pick up a skill along the way. Accomplishing the challenge can be worthwhile, but not every home improvement project is the same. For some like floor sanding and refinishing, the risks far outweigh the benefits. In fact, it is one of the projects where DIYers end up stopping midway and calling in the professionals to come complete it and rectify the damages made. Here’s the thing: floor sanding is a laborious job, and requires powerful equipment to get it done quickly, plus proper training to operate the machinery. Even contractors themselves take months before fine-tuning their skills. What’s more, any imperfection that results from the sanding stage will be highlighted by the finish coats that are to be applied, and the only way to remedy this is to repeat the process, which end ups costing you far much more in the process. Let’s take a look at some of the mistakes that are usually made during DIY floor sanding.
- Blunders with the grit sequence
Generally, grits used when sanding start from coarse, then medium, and finally the fine grit sandpaper. These have different categories within them. The first step is knowing which grit to start with for the particular floor. While many scenarios call for 24-grit sandpaper, there are cases where as low as 12 and 16-grit levels are used, depending on the amount of material to be sanded off the floor. Starting with 80-grit because of fearing to damage the wood results in the old finish coats not being removed in the first place and when the floor is treated there will be huge colour variations – but we’ll get to more on that later. A common mistake seen here is skipping grits. For instance, going 16-36-80 grit will lead to the floor surface being left with scratches. Following progressively through the levels allows the subsequent higher grits to remove the scratches left behind by the previous ones. However, in the scenario, the 80-grit is too fine to remove the scratches that will result from using the 36-grit. Remember that the end goal of the floor sanding is to have the surface smooth and ready to accept the finish coats that are to be applied. These scratches will become more prominent when the wood stain and lacquer coats are applied.
Wood floors have a limited number of times in which lacquer they can be successful sanded and restored. For solid hardwood flooring, this will be more than the engineered wood flooring, as the latter has a thinner wear layer. Sanding too much into the floor weakens its structural integrity, and reduces the number of times that it can be restored in future, meaning that you will end up replacing the floorboards much sooner. The oversanding can occur when one is focusing the machine on one spot for too long – in which case they may actually dig a depression into the floor, and also when the sander is being moved slowly across the floor surface.
On the other hand, it will be a problem when the sanding is not enough. This typically occurs when the DIYer, in a bid to avoid oversanding removes the sander too fast across the floor. As a result, the sander does not have sufficient time to grind down the existing coats of finish from the floor, and ends up leaving patches on the surface. These patches are problematic since they prevent the new coats that are to be applied from properly bonding with the wood floor. This means the finish will be weaker, and deteriorate faster. Peeling can also result, leading to an unsightly floor.
The under-sanding can also be caused by sheer exhaustion for the DIYer. When you start the process, there will be a huge difference seen with the floor. After the top layers of the finish coats have been removed, the focus becomes removing the scratches and smoothening out the surface as you proceed through the various grit levels. However, progress here will appear to be slow, which can make one exasperated. Those uneven sections on the surface, that show up at the middle of the floor boards can get on your nerves, yet they cannot be ignored since they will ruin the quality of the results.
After spending several hours working on the open floor space with the drum sander, next will be the edging. Here, an edger is used since there are tight spaces to be worked on. However, it can be tedious, which is why it’s common to find people rushing through it. However, one needs to painstakingly ensure that the edges blend with the rest of the floor, otherwise there will noticeable disparities with the rest of the floor.
One key aspect that also needs to be considered during the floor sanding is the dust generated. How do you deal with it? The equipment that is usually rented from dealership stores usually comes with dust bags, but these mechanisms still allow large amounts of dust to escape into the environment. This leads to a huge clean-up job being required afterwards, and also increases the health risks due to the lifting dust particles that remain airborne. Unlike the professionals who use dustless floor sanding systems, the DIYer will be at a disadvantage here. There are also dangers that come with oversights being made. For instance, when that exposed nailhead on the floor is ignored, it will damage the sanding belt of the machine being used. Speaking of which, any damages to the rented equipment will need to be repaired at your own cost, further increasing the burden placed on the DIYer. The longer that you remain with the equipment – especially if it is charged by the day, the more you will dig deeper into your wallet to foot the bill. As you can see, it can really be a hassle. Avoid it all, and get the results you desire, by simply leaving the task to the professionals.