Does Your Floor Need To Be Sanded And Refinished?
Wood floors are a great investment. They accentuate the décor, enhance the real estate value of the property, and can last a lifetime if properly taken care of. This includes the routine cleaning, to the occasional sanding and refinishing. Every day, the floor comes under attack: people walking about, grinding dirt under the soles of their shoes against the surface of the floor; footwear like heels that applies more pressure than that witnessed with an elephant’s footsteps with each step; food and drink spills, pet urine stains for those with cats and dogs in the household that have yet to have a full grasp on their training; to incidences of water damage that are caused by anything from plumbing leaks to rising damp from beneath the floor. How do you know when your floor needs to be restored or refinished? Here are signs to watch out for:
- Surface covered in scratches
This will be hard to miss- especially since it will irk you each time you walk into the room. When there are lots of scratches on the floor, it distorts its appearance, making the place look and feel neglected. A few scratches here and there are normal- and expected given the loads of foot traffic handled by the floor. However, when it’s all over, it will be time to consider getting the floor sanding and refinishing done. In fact, in some cases scratches have got so deep that they get through the finish to the wood itself- which puts the affected boards at risk of more damage.
- When the boards turn grey
This, in particular, is a sign of the polyurethane finish being worn out to an extent that the wood is absorbing more water. Whether it’s from the occasional drink spills, snow that has been tracked into the house, or plumbing incidences, water is a threat to the floor. When the finish has got worn out, the higher the risk of damage to the structure. If the floor sanding and refinishing is not carried out soon, more moisture will keep being absorbed, and the floor will gradually turn black. By the time it’s getting to this point, the only thing left will be to replace the boards themselves, which will end up costing you more in the long run.
- Water damage
The cyclic contraction and expansion of the wood floor with the fluctuating moisture levels in its structure are common. After all, it is a hygroscopic material. However, over time some of the changes become permanent. For instance, after cupping- which occurs are lots of moisture has been absorbed, one should allow the wood to dry out. After this, the structure may still be deformed, in which case the floor sanding comes in to smoothen out the surface. Note that the emphasis here is on carrying out the sanding after the floor has been allowed to dry out after the cupping. Premature sanding will lead to distortion of the surface once the floorboard acclimates with the environment.
- Faded floor
One of the contributing factors to this is the sunlight bathing the wood floor, where the UV radiation affects the wood tissue. However, there are wood species where darkening occurs. When it comes to the finish, the UV rays can cause a yellow tint to develop, which ruins the décor of the room. Sanding and refinishing the surface will allow you to renew the protection that had been applied on your installation, whole keeping its colours vibrant.
Importance of following the right sanding sequence
How the different grits of sandpaper are used for the process has a huge impact on the final result. Normally, a coarse grit paper needs to fist be used (such as grit 24 or 36). Here the focus is on removing the existing varnishes, wood stains, deep scratches and levelling the surface to get rid of those grooves and ridges that may have formed over time. There are cases that call for coarse grits, such as when there is really sticky shellac on the floor. Once this grit is used, the sanding may appear to be complete- but only to the untrained eye. After all, the bare wood is visible, right? Wrong. It is barely ready. In fact, there’s plenty of more work to follow- which will gradually get exasperating as the changes become less and less visible. Applying the finish at this stage would simply magnify the scratches and marks that have been formed by the rough sandpaper that has been used on it, making it appear as though your floor had been a battle-ground of sorts.
In order for these scratch marks to be removed, higher grits of sandpaper are required. This does not mean that one jumps right to 100 or 120 grit sandpaper. This wouldn’t be able to remove the marks left behind by the coarse sandpaper. There would be scratches being formed, and the scratches would ruin the end result after the finish coats are applied. Instead, one moves through to the medium grit sandpaper, gradually working their way up to the finer grits, until the floor is ready.
On the other hand, sanding to really high grit levels- like 180g sandpaper, will be going overboard. The purpose of the floor sanding is to prepare the surface to be ready to receive the new wood stains, sealants and finishes, not burnishing it to make it super smooth. This could have the negative effect of preventing the treatments from bonding strongly with the surface itself. The grit to which one should reach will depend on the particular condition of the floor. This, coupled with aspects such as the sheer workload of the task, and the need for high-powered machinery to expedite the process, are some of the reasons why it is recommended that you hire an expert company to carry out the job. That way it can be done appropriately, while saving your time as the property owner, allowing the subsequent finishing stage to be commenced much sooner.