Floor Restoration – To DIY Or Not?
Is it time to get your floor sanded and refinished, and you’re weighing between doing it yourself or hiring a professional? There are different factors to consider. These include the type of wood floor being worked on, the size of the rooms, the budget of the project, all through to the machinery required and the extent of the deterioration of the surface. Unlike other home improvement projects, there there is lots of room for error, and the cost implications of damages made will be high.
What To Expect from The DIY Floor Sanding And Refinishing
While there is potential for making savings, will it be actually the case at the end of the project? Firstly, you’ll need to hire sanders for the job. Different sets of equipment are needed – from the drum, orbital and edger sanders, to the buffers. Each has its purpose, and since it is unlikely that you have stocked these in your home, getting them from the dealership will be the next step. Additional costs will also go into safety equipment – from the protective gloves and safety goggles, to shoes that you can use for the task, respirators to protect you from the dust, and ear muffs since the machines can get quite noisy. Add sandpaper to this – and it will be required in different grit levels. Speaking of which, there’ll need to be research that goes into the grit sequence for your particular type of floor, and this will largely depend on is current condition, especially with how coarse the sandpaper for the initial pass should be. All this is you before you’ve even started on the actual work itself.
The capacity of the rented floor sanding machinery will have a direct impact on the effectiveness of the job. Right off the bat, you will be operating at a disadvantage compared to the professionals, who use industrial-grade equipment. While powerful, this machinery is large and cumbersome to carry around, which is why dealerships opt to stick the smaller units. These are lighter and more portable, but they end up compromising on the power needed for the job. As such, the floor sanding ends up taking far much longer. This is assuming that the equipment itself is in proper condition. Given that it could have been rented out to dozens of enthusiastic DIYers before, there could be damage to the component parts, or the machines themselves may not has been properly maintained, which will reflect in their capacity for delivering on the job.
Then there is the issue with subpar results. Note that any imperfection that will be on the floor from the sanding process will be highlighted by the finish coats that will be applied. Those tiny hills and valleys that were created due to not properly following the grit sequence will become glaring anomalies one the final coats are applied. This is because the wood stains and treatments used will collect at the depressions, and also not be enough on the peaks of these ridges, leading to an unsightly appearance, as opposed to the smooth finish that you were expecting.
The skillset of the individual carrying out the sanding will be critical to the outcome. Even with properly maintained equipment, if it’s not used as intended then the resultant effect will ruin the floor. Some of the common mistakes that DIYers make include:
- Insufficient sanding
A key concern during the sanding process is grinding away too much of the wood. This reduces the wear layer, and means that there will be fewer chances to restore the floor in future. The DIYer, knowing this, may work with too fine of a grit, or move the sander quickly over the surface of the floor. This has the negative result of not removing the old finish enough – which is also a problem. Unless those old coats are completely removed, the new treatments that will be applied will not bond well with the wood floor. Remember that the goal of the floor sanding process is to leave the wood surface bare. Patches of old finish coats will react differently with the new treatments applied, resulting in a blotchy appearance all over the floor, messing up the results. Under-sanding can also be an issue with using the inappropriate equipment, such as when working with planetary sanders that do not have sufficient capacity to remove the thick coats of finish that are on the floor.
Already exhausted from sanding the open floor space, DIYers tend to rush the edging process. After all, the DIYer will have likely spent hours sweating it out in a dust-filled room, manoeuvring the drum sanders all over the floor. Following that with working with the edger on the tight spaces can be exhausting, but it still needs to be done. Otherwise, the resultant colour and texture of the finish products that will be applied on these sections will be different from the rest of the flooring.
When it comes to applying the wood stains, sealants, lacquers or other treatments that are to be used, it also requires skill. There are numerous types of products to use, and these will react differently with each other. Instruction including the drying and curing times needs to be strictly followed, as well as carrying out light sanding in between consecutive coats that are applied on the surface. You don’t want to be in a situation where there is bubbling in the finish coats, or they start peeling off. Such issues are only resolved with another round of floor sanding and finishing, which will only drive up the costs. A poorly applied finish will also be weak, which will put the underlying floor at risk of damage – reducing its lifespan. While it starts out with the aim of saving money – and perhaps the thrill of taking on a new challenge, DIY ends up being exasperating to the individual, with hidden costs that take a bigger bite out of the household budget.