The Hassle Of DIY Floor Sanding
Is it time to give your wood floor a new lease of life? One of the benefits of these types of flooring is that when the surface gets old and worn out, you can easily revitalise the installation by sanding away the existing finish, and applying new coats. From the wood stains to the sealants and lacquers, you get to choose the new products that will be used, whether you want to restore that original charm and appeal, or go for a different look that meets your changing style goals.
As is with the case of many home improvement projects, you may have the urge to take on the job as a DIY task. It seems straightforward, right? Just grab a sander, grind away that old finish, and apply new coats and you’ll be good to go – what could be hard in that? Well, as it turns out, things could go terribly wrong. This is one of those home improvement projects that is best left to the professionals. Here, we will expound on issues that the DIYer will come across.
The first hurdle will be getting the right equipment for the task. Different kinds of machines are used, from drum sanders, planetary sanders to edgers. Each has its role and target application. One key issue of concern will be the power and capacity of the machines that the DIYer may rent from a dealership store. For instance, while professionals will typically have sanders running on at least 240V power and clocking over 180lbs, many of the dealerships stock sanders running at around 120V, and weighing a lot less than the units used by the professionals. This means that right from the start, you will be at a disadvantage. The floor sanding is a tedious job that requires powerful machinery, and the rental machines usually have come with lower capacities. The reduced sizes and ratings of their component parts such as the motors, is to enable the machines to be small and light enough to be carried in conventional family vehicles and manoeuvred in the different rooms. However, the professionals use industrial-grade units that are both heavy and expensive. Thus, the DIYer ends up taking far much longer to carry out the task.
Maintenance is also an issue. With many amateurs renting the equipment from dealerships stores, it’s common to find component parts having been damaged, which will end up affecting the quality of the job. The sanders can be so out of tune that they end up forming chatter marks on your floor. One of the concerns with planetary sanders is the reduced aggressiveness when removing the old finish. While they have the selling point of being gentle on the floor thus reducing the risk of damaging the boards, it brings about problems with patches of the old finish remaining.
Mistakes that enthusiastic DIYers make over the course of the floor sanding can be costly to resolve. Note that any blunders will feature prominently with the latter finish coats that are to be applied – and this will need extra sanding to revert to its original condition. Just what can go wrong?
Take belt sanders for instance. They can leave drum marks on your floor when they are operated wrongly, or they have not been properly tuned. A simple mistake of dropping the drum when the sandpaper is not yet in motion will cause the machine to spin on the spot. The result is anything from a small divot, to a large depression in the middle of the floor. What’s worse is that even the tiny imperfections that are caused will be boldly highlighted after the finish has been applied – even if the discrepancy was not noticeable beforehand.
Improper edging is also another issue. Even the pace of moving the sander comes into focus. When you move too slowly over the floor, then the machine ends up sanding too much into the wood. On the other hand, moving too fast causes bits of the old finish to be left behind on the surface, which prevents the new finish coats that are to be applied from bonding well with the wood.
It’s actually common to find DIYers starting the task, then stopping midway to dial up the professionals to come in and rectify the messes made. It’s an arduous job, and with so many factors that come into play, it ends up frustrating people without the appropriate skills and equipment. Given that it is the initial stage of the floor restoration process, any issues that are encountered here end up having a ripple effect on the rest of the task. What’s more, the longer that the floor sanding takes, the longer that the area will be out of commission. You can avoid these frustrations involved by getting a professional crew to handle the floor sanding from the word go.
The DIY process will also dig into your wallet. Firstly, there are charges when renting the floor sanding machinery. Different units are required for the various aspects of the job, from the belt sanders to the orbital sanders and edgers. Vacuuming gear, bin bags, extension cables, ear muffs – they all have their role during the floor sanding process. Add sandpaper to the shopping list. Most of the dealerships start stocking sandpaper from 36 grit for use with the belt sanders, and around 50-60 for the planetary machines. Low grits like 12 or 16 may be difficult to find. Speaking of which, the starting point of the grit will depend on the particular condition of the floor, the amount of treatment product to be removed, to the level of scratches and gouges being dealt with. Here, the quality of the sandpaper is also key. Low-quality sandpaper will end up costing you more in the long run. It will keep getting clogged up with the finish even before it has become dull, forcing you to use more material and rack up the floor sanding costs.