When DIY Floor Sanding Jobs Go Bad
With the range of DIY projects nowadays, more people are putting themselves up for different challenges in the various aspects of their lives. There’s also plenty of information that is readily available, from blog posts to videos. Everything from fixing vehicle problems, concocting cleaning formulations to get rid of those stubborn stains in the households, to learning new crafts in the creative field. The rush has seen people set out to go through the uncharted waters, pick up a new skill, and save on costs in the process. It, therefore, is not a surprise to find homeowners with wood floors who are contemplating taking on the sanding as a DIY job. They have barely got their minds around the fact that it will involve some serious sweat equity due to the labour-intensive nature of the project, and are up for it. However, things often end up going wrong- with dire consequences.
Floor sanding is not your everyday renovation task. It is fraught with risk, and you only have little margin for error. For every successful DIY project, there are dozens of horror stories of things that went awry. These range from issues like the costs running amok due to the materials that end up being used in the project, the rental equipment proving to be ineffective, the project taking far much longer than expected, which means that the floor will remain out of commission for weeks, the subsequent finishes not being applied consistently to the floor itself vetting ruined and requiring the floorboards to be replaced. When improperly sanded, the floor will definitely be ruined. Some mistakes are manageable, and will simply require a repeat of the process. On other cases, the damage will be so expensive, that you will find yourself being forced to budget to have an entire new flooring installed. Just what happens?
Let’s start with the machinery that is used for the task. After all, they are the backbone of the process. The machines that are available for rent, such as the belt sanders usually have a rating such as 120v. This is as opposed to the industrial-grade sanders that run on at least 240v. Thus, right off the bat, you are already operating at a disadvantage. The machines that the professionals use are behemoths, needed to meet the demand for frequent sanding jobs in both residential and commercial establishments. On the other hand, the dealerships need to make more money renting out their units, hence they focus on getting sanders that are light and easily portable, for the DIYers to move around conveniently. This has the negative effect of compromising on the effectiveness of the process. There are cases where the rented units have been through so many hands with low maintenance measures being put in place, that they get out of tune. This adds another layer of troubles. The beat-up sanders end up creating chatter marks on the floor.
- Removing the old finish
This is one of the main goals of the floor sanding process. Sure, the DIYer may get a nifty planetary sander that reduces the risk of ruining the floor and leaving chatter marks, as opposed to the belt sander. However, the units don’t deliver the required grinding power to get rid of the old finish completely. For those who have obtained belt and drum sanders that have a low capacity, the effectiveness of the job will be compromised. You end up sweating through an entire day in a dust-filled room, while making slow progress. It can be exasperating. In fact, this is the stage where most DIYers throw in the towel and call in the professionals to take over. The next issue lies with the sandpaper being used.
- When the costs pile up
If you are able to acquire quality sanders, that have been properly maintained, you’re likely to have spent extra for it. Focus then shifts to the sandpaper that should be used with it. A lot of factors come into play here. First, the appropriate grit sequence needs to be used, starting from the coarse grits like 24 and 36, following through with the medium grit, then completing with the fine grits- such as 100 and 120. The grit that one starts with depends on the condition of the floor, with some situations calling for as low as 12 grit. Most dealerships stock sandpaper from around 36 grit for the belt sanders that they lease out, and around 50 grit for the planetary sanders.
The quality of the sandpaper itself matters. For many jobs, you’ll find the professional contractors starting out with premium-grade 36 grit sandpaper. This is of a high quality, that can last for longer in the job. For particularly stubborn situations- such as then there is sticky shellac or mastic that is on the floor, low grits like 12 or 16 are used. It is rare to find these in the dealership stores. Back to the paper quality- premium sandpaper is expensive, hence the DIYers tend to get just a couple of the lowest grits that are available at their stores. Before long, the paper will have clogged up with the finish even before it has got dull. Clogged sandpaper is basically waste at this point, and more paper will need to be bought. This ramps up the costs.
- Ruining the floor
This can happen in different ways. For instance, when the DIYer drops the drum onto the floor without the sander being in motion, it will spill on spot, creating anything from a small divot to a large hole in the middle of the floor. It’s common to find drum marks that have been left behind due to DIYer working with belt sanders that have not been properly tuned. Even the tiny blemishes during the floor sanding become glaring errors once the finishing process is completed. You don’t have to ensure such frustrations and liabilities. Get the task done appropriately, and in a fraction of the time a DIYer would have taken, by simply hiring the professional floor sanding crew for the task.