Floor Sanding vs Buffing
Does your floor need to be buffed or sanded? Which will give you the results you desire? Let’s break down what is involved in the two, for you to make a well-informed decision.
- Floor Buffing
Here, the goal is simply smoothing out the floor, restoring the lost glow to refresh the look. The existing finish is replenished and left intact, and is particularly suitable when you’re just dealing with minor scratches or scuffs. That way, you can ensure that the shiny lustre remains for longer. Sure, it appears simple, but it still takes quite some time, especially if an extra coat will need to be added to the existing finish and buffed out. However, it saves on costs, while still keeping the floor in shape.
Note that applying the topcoat smoothly and correctly requires some skill. Also, buffing doesn’t resolve imperfections like discolouration of the wood floor, or extensive damage to the installation.
- Floor Sanding
Here, the top surface of the wood floor is abraded, removing the existing finish, and exposing the bare wood. Floor sanding is carried out when the finish has got completely worn through, or if you’re dealing with damages like deep scratches on the wood.
With sanding, you basically give your wood floor a fresh start – but it is a more involving process, consuming both time and resources, and generating loads of dust.
With sanding, there is a limited number of times that it can be carried out. This is because it just entails the thin top layer of wood, and oversanding will weaken the floor. Engineered wood floors can be sanded 2 or 3 times, while solid hardwood floors can be sanded 7 to 10 times. When it comes to the dust, approaches like using dustless floor sanding systems have been developed to make the process less messy.
After the floor sanding, new treatments can be applied – from the wood stains to the lacquers. Selecting the products will depend on the aesthetic requirements, as well as factors such as the amount of traffic handled by the premises, and the level of water and oil resistance needed.
The wood floor is an expensive installation, and you don’t want it getting damaged due to the wrong approaches being used on it. Mistakes during the floor restoration process can end up wreaking havoc on the floor itself, the equipment being used, or injure the individual carrying out the task, since you’re dealing with heavy-duty machinery.
Common problems in the finish that are due to mistakes made during the preservation process include:
- Peeling, which occurs when the floor sanding has not been properly done, and bits of the old finish remain on the surface. This prevents the new treatments from bonding well with the floor, and they end up peeling. It also happens when there is debris on the floor that gets trapped under the new coats being applied.
- Uneven sheens, which can be due to issues like working with poorly maintained applicators, or even simply forgetting to mix the product well before allocation. If the result is particularly unpleasant, the only recourse would be to have another round of floor sanding and recoat the surface, which will end up consuming more resources.
- Scratches, which are made more prominent by the finish coats. These are commonly caused by using sanding pads or abrasive screens that are worn out, whether it is for the initial sanding, or that which occurs in between consecutive coats being applied. To get rid of the scratches, the affected surface needs to be sanded back down past the coat that has the scratches. Since this is actually quite difficult to accurately determine, the whole finish usually just ends up being sanded completely away and the process started again.
- Mishandling the floor sanding machinery is also problematic, whether it’s sanding too fast, too little, following the wrong direction, or starting the drum sander before it is in contact with the ground, which causes it to spin on one spot – there are different ways that a rookie or DIYer can go wrong, and all will be costly to resolve.
There is no way around it. Sloppy sanding results will show in the final finish. Whether it is the scratches that are left behind getting highlighted through the glossy lacquers to be applied, spider-web-like defects caused by mishandling the sanders, dust that gets embedded in the wet finish coats – they will all be problematic to remove. Add this to the actual time and effort that is taken up by the floor sanding process. It’s a very intensive job, where you manoeuvre heavy equipment in the target rooms over long hours of the day. Dealing with the dust compounds the issue, and without proper containment systems, the particles end up covering the entire space, even getting into the vents and cabinets. This necessitates a laborious clean-up job afterwards, adding to your workload.
On the other hand, professional contractors have the skill needed for the task, and work with high-capacity machinery that reduces the amount of time taken for the overall project. Moreover, the experience garnered over the years enables them to appropriately deal with issues that arise during the process. Hiring local floor sanding and restoration teams will enable you to avoid the hustle of the process, and still wind up with quality results at the end of it. The choice of company you hire is a sensitive one, and should not be rushed. Take your time to go over past reviews of the company as well as the activity on the different social media platforms, from the feedback that they get from clients, to how they address complaints that are raised. For the costs, this will be determined by your individual situation, including the condition and size of the floors to be worked on, the extent of the repairs that are needed, as well as the finishing process required. Be sure to ask about the kind of systems that the personnel will use for the project, and how you can prepare for the day they arrive to smoothen up the process.