Quick Guide to The Floor Sanding Process
When hiring a professional to handle the floor sanding, you should also be well-versed with the measures that are being put in place. Sure, there’s no pressure to have the nitty-gritty of the entire process at your fingertips, but as the property owner you don’t want to be in the dark for the entirety of the operation. Here, we will highlight some of the measures that are taken during the floor sanding, and the basics that you can also put in mind to ensure that the contractor you’ve hired is doing the job correctly.
There are different approaches of working on the floor, and these are usually determined by the pattern of the floor, the wood species, all through to the type of wood stain or finish product that will be applied. The goal of the sanding is to prepare the floor surface for the treatments that will follow. While it will take hours to pore through every single detail of all the methods, here are some principles that apply across the board:
The right sequence of cuts needs to be followed, starting off with the coarse grits and progressing through to the finer grits of sandpaper. The role of the initial gits is to flatten out the floor for new installations, and remove the old wood stain and floor finishes for those installations that have been previously treated. After the first cut, the successive grits are used to remove scratches left behind by the preceding cuts.
The first sandpaper to be used will depend on the condition of the floor. For instance, there are cases where 36 grit is used, and others will call for as low as 16 and 12-grit. One then proceeds up the grades, going with the medium-grit, right through to the fine grit. When it comes to the final pass, here the main factor will be the desired level of smoothness to be achieved. For instance, in the case of preparing the floor for the wood stain, the contractor may end at 100 or 120 grit. Going for the higher grit levels like 150 and above will close up the wood grain, preventing the formulation from bonding with the surface of the wood. However, these higher grit levels will come in during the finishing process, when light sanding is required in between the subsequent coats of finish being applied.
Rushing the process and skipping grits messes up the surface, leaving behind scratches that will be highlighted through the finish coats that will be applied. For instance, if the first pass is with 36-grit sandpaper, one can go to 50-grit, then 80-grit. Skipping from 36 all the way to 60 or 80 will mean that there will be plenty of deep scratches left behind on the floor. Each progressive grit sequence removes the scratches that were left by its predecessor, and in turn leaves shallower scratches. When many grits are skipped, the sandpaper used will only remove the top of the ‘peaks’ the were left by the preceding cut. The deep ‘grooves’ will remain, and you end up with a floor surface that is uneven. Not only will this feel rough underfoot, but more finish will end up in the grooves than on the peaks, resulting in an unsightly result after the finishing process has been completed.
So how is the grit sequence decided? First, the contractor determines which will be the grit used for the final pass, then works backwards. For instance, if the goal is to end using a 100-grit sandpaper, then a sequence of 40-60-100 can be used. Here, only 50-grit and 80-grit have been skipped. On the other hand, if the final pass will be made with 80-grit sandpaper, then a sequence of 36-50-80 can be used. Coarser sandpaper can be used for the initial pass based on the current state of the floor. The type of wood also weighs in when selecting the grit. For instance, softer wood species will be sanded using finger-grits for a comparative result with the hardwoods.
This is a heavy machine. As long as the sandpaper is in contact with the surface of the floor, and the belt or drum is turning, then the machine should always be kept moving. Pausing on one spot will cause deep marks to be cut into the floor – which will also depend on the speed of the belt or drum, and the machine’s weight. The contractor should also manoeuvre the sander smoothly over the floor, preferably when following the wood grain. This is because going across causes the belt sander or drum unit to grind through the layers more aggressively. The sanding can be done at a slight 7-15 degrees angle to the direction of the boards – or even parallel, when dealing with strip or plank floors. Diagonal cuts are especially more effective for cases where the floor is uneven.
Note that there will be floors that will need specialised modes of approach, especially those that have mixed material, like sections with stone, and the floors that have been installed with multiple wood species. For instance, when dealing with floors that have multiple wood species or patterns, then the contractor may make the cuts in two directions with a 45-degree angle. This is not a rule set in stone, the specific floor – coupled with the type of sanding machine being used, will determine the optimal mode of approach.
For the task to be carried out seamlessly, it is recommended that you engage a qualified flooring specialist. Here, you want a company that is fully equipped for the task, with an experienced crew to handle the process. Going through the reviews on the company’s social media platforms and listings on business directories will enable you to gauge the quality of services that the company provides, based on the experience of previous clients.