Floor sanding is not as simple as many take it to be. It’s not like using sandpaper on a couple of planks in woodshop class. The heavy-duty machinery involved in the process and the uniformity required for the results increases the stakes involved. Plenty of risks abound, and there is lots of room for error. Unfortunately resolving the damages made can be costly. Let’s take a look at why DIY floor sanding ends up being more trouble than its worth:
This can lead to a whole range of problems. The powerful machines needed from the sanding require one to be skilled to operate them. From setting up the units to how you manoeuvre them over the surface – it all comes into play. Take an aspect like the grit sequence to use for example. The grit to start with depends on the condition of the floor. There are three different stages: coarse, medium and fine grits, each with different levels of sandpaper.
A common mistake made by DIYers is starting with medium grit sandpaper, such as 60. This is usually out of a fear of removing too much wood, but in the process they end up not removing most of the old finish itself. The goal of the floor sanding is to actually get to the bare wood. When bits of the old finish remain behind on the surface, the new treatments to be applied will react differently to these sections compared to the rest of the floor. The result will be an unsightly aberration that will require the floor sanding to be redone and new coats applied – which ends up costing more.
Insufficient sanding is also an issue. While the task is admittedly straining on the body, rushing it will not help the situation. When working with the lower capacity floor sanding machines available for rent at the local stores, you will end up pushing around the heavy equipment for hours as you make repeated passes on the various sections of the floor. During the initial stages, the changes will be dramatic as the old finish coats are removed. However, as one progresses through the grits, the changes become less pronounced. Here, the focus is on removing the deeper scratches of the previous grits, and shallower ones are formed by the finer grits. This continues until the 80g or 100g sandpaper, where the surface will ideally be ready for the new coats that are to be applied. The progress will be slow since you also need to ensure that the floor surface is flat and uniform. What’s more, after working on the open floor space, you will also need to focus your attention to the edges. After all those hours sweating it out with the heavy drum or belt sander, then spending more hours with the edger, this can take a toll, which is why DIYers tend to rush through it. It can all be exasperating: those uneven sections, the shadows that are formed at the middle of edges of the floorboards depending on whether they have convex or concave curvature respectively, to dealing with those final bits that even seem non-existent – yet if you skip them it will affect the finish.
There are different risks involved with the sanding. One of the major ones is the copious amounts of dust generated during the process. Those fine, light particles can get airborne and inhaled by persons in the premises. What’s more, when they get into the HVAC systems, they can be recirculated into the indoor airspace for weeks, prolonging the risks. Allergic reactions from irritated throats, watery eyes, coughs, sneezing, increased frequency of asthma attacks, damage to the lung tissue by the abrasive particles – these are not issues you want the persons in the resistance being exposed to. Actually, professionals opt to work with dustless floor sanding systems, where the setup gets rid of over 99% of the dust, making it a safe approach compared to the conventional sanders with dust bags that the DIYers use, which still allow lots of dust to escape into the environment.
Equipment used factors in as well. Working with heavy machinery, lots of wire connections in the household and the abrasive tools involved in the process certainly comes with its risks to injury. For instance, it is common to find pets and kids tripping over the power cables – which is why alternative arrangements should be made for them to be away from the residence while the floor sanding is being carried out. Remember that with the rental equipment, any damage to the units will be added to the costs, since you will end up footing the repairs. Issues like the sanding belt getting damaged by an exposed nail head will force you to dig deeper into your wallet to make repairs.
In addition to the physical toll, there is also the frustration that comes with the process. The pressure to ensure that the surface is perfectly prepared for the floor treatment to be applied is immense, given that any blunder at this stage will ruin the quality of the final result. The different machines need your attention as well. For instance, each time the belt is being changed, the drum should be inspected and cleaned. The presence of dirt and debris can lead to chatter marks. The condition of the top roller should be checked as well, in addition to cleaning and setting both the feather handle and the paper tensioner.
Even listening to the machine factors in, so you have to be really alert. Any changes in the sounds – from a high-pitched squealing, a sudden thumping noise, or sounds from the motor getting bogged down – they could mean that the machine needs to be repaired. You then need to make arrangements to have it checked before it gets damaged further, noting that the financing for all this will come from your pocket, be it a rented floor sanding machine, or you’ve gone all -out and purchased your own equipment.