Factors Considered During Engineered Floor Sanding
Engineered wood floors are popular for their speed of installation and a higher ability to withstand moisture damage when compared to solid wood flooring. They’ve come a long way from their conceptualisation in the 1960s, and are now available in a myriad of wood species and different surface effects. Whether you want a modern artistic feel or a hand-scraped effect for that timeworn patina, there are options available for you. They can also be installed in areas that would have been problematic for the mainstream solid wood floors, like in basements where there are higher levels of moisture. However, they still need to be maintained properly in order to retain them in top condition. This is not limited to the routine cleaning. After a couple of years, when the finish gets deteriorated, the floor will need to be sanded and refinished. This is where one of the biggest differences between the solid and engineered wood floors comes in. While solid hardwood can be sanded and refinished multiple times, with the engineered wood, you don’t have that luxury. Let’s delve deeper into this:
Home and business owners who have engineered wood floors tend to get nervous when it comes to sanding of their floors. This is understandable. After all, there is only a thin layer of wood that can be actually sanded, and the risk of damage to the underlying structure is higher compared to the alternative flooring types. Without the right skills, rookie technicians can easily sand through the few millimetres that are available for working with, which would put the structural integrity of your installation at risk. This is also common with the DIY floor sanding jobs, hence the insistence on turning to professionals for the task.
Issues that come into focus
First, there’s the wood veneer. How thick is it? You can easily observe it by checking the sections where the floor has been cut- like under the door threshold strips, or those sections that are around radiator pipes. The floor sanding should be carried out until the thickness of the veneer has been ascertained. This enables one to determine just how much further the floor can be sanded through. 3-ply engineered wood floor usually have a 1-2mm wear layer and this is often limited to species like oak or ash; those with 5 plys come with a 2-3mm wear layer and are seen with a larger number of wood species, including cherry and beech; while the 7-9 ply wood flooring clocks a 3 mm wear layer- a feature that allows them to be sanded more times.
Next is a history of the floor. Has it been sanded before? This will mean that the veneer will be thinner than it was originally. In case there had been sections of the flooring which had suffered more damage and required rectification during the refinishing process, these will have likely been sanded through more aggressively, meaning that the veneer may not be consistent throughout the floor.
Note that engineered wood flooring comes in two main types: single planks and 3-strip options. For the single planks (1-strip), the floor has one strip of wood. There aren’t any joints midboard- with only the edges being on the outside of the board itself. For the 3-strip, the floorboards look as though they have 3 floorboards in one. The solid wood layer at the top will simply look as though it has 3 distinct pieces of wood- the edges of the board and two bevelled lines going the length of each board, creating that triple strip look. It may actually have the 3 separate ones, which are fixed onto the solid core board of the flooring. These will also weigh in when settling on how much of the floor can be safely sanded.
The skill level of the floor sanding contractor is critical. You want to deal with personnel who have been properly trained and have the expertise needed to handle the situation, applying the required measures that are needed for your particular type of floor. The type of machine being used for the process also comes into play- from the belt sanders, edgers, to the planetary floor sanding machines. When discussing the project with the floor sanding technician, ensure that they have walked you through the measures that are going to be undertaken, that way you will be well-versed with it before they get started, and have any queries addressed.
Preparing Your Home For The Floor Sanding
After scheduling the floor sanding session, there are measures that you are advised to put in place in preparation for the task itself. Firstly, ensure that you are clear on the schedule that will be followed by the sanding team that will be sent to your premises, that way you can be able to plan ahead. This is to ensure things go smoothly, and that you won’t find yourself getting inconvenienced. Other aspects include:
- Moving the furniture and rugs. Removing the furniture pieces, wall art, decorations, fragile items and other objects in the room that will be sanded and refinished will be required. There are professional services that include furniture removal in the process, so it’s recommended that you get this clarified upfront.
- Cover up the electronics, cabinets, sinks and other areas in the room. You can use plastic sheets for the process, which are an effective barrier in preventing dust from covering up your belongings, or getting into the HVAC and plumbing systems. While on this point, it is advisable to hire the services of a company that utilises dustless floor sanding mechanisms, which drastically cuts down the amount of dust that is released into the interior space during the process. This also has the welcome benefit of reducing the cleaning workload that will follow after the sanding process.
- Inspect the condition of the floor. Sure, the professionals will also do it, but it also doesn’t hurt for you to look around, checking for issues like nail heads that are popping out of the floor and hammering them down. This is to prevent the nails and screws from damaging the floor sanding machinery that will be used. Also assess for gaps, cracks, and loose boards, and bring these to the attention of the contractors who will be coming to work on your installation.