Sanding is a simple and cost effective way to breath new life into tired or damaged wooden floors. Here we answer some common questions on sanding, and offer some pointers on getting started.
What type of sander do I need?

Drum and orbital sanders, and floor edgers all play a part in sanding back wooden floors.

  • If your floors require a reasonable amount of sanding back; old varnish needs removing; or warped boards need levelling, the powerful motor and cutting motion on a drum sander will help you to get the job done quickly and efficiently. 

  • For lighter sanding or polishing boards, an orbital sander works well. 

  • Edging sanders are also useful for getting into corners and harder to reach areas.

Always choose a sander with a built-in bag – this will improve air quality where you are working and reduce the spread of sawdust into neighbouring rooms. 

What else do I need to sand a floor?
  • To get started you will need a broom (or vacuum) to remove dust and debris.

  • Sandpaper is a given – although the type will depend on the condition of your floors. Use 40-grit sandpaper for floors that need a lot of work, 60-grit to 80-grit grit for floors in reasonable condition.

  • You will need a hammer and nail punch to tap in any loose nails, preventing your sander from snagging on them.

  • To finish your floors you will need methylated spirits to prepare boards for varnishing; varnish and a brush to apply it; and a mop and bucket. 

  • And finally, to work safely you will need a dust mask, safety glasses and earmuffs. 
     

How do I sand my wooden floor?

1. Preparing your area

  • Before sanding check for any gaps and cracks, and fix any nails that are poking up.

  • A good sweep of the floor area before sanding will improve the quality of your finish.

  • Close any doors leading to your work area to prevent the spread of dust, and open nearby windows for ventilation.

2. Setting up your sander

  • Fit sandpaper to the drum of your sander, ensuring a tight fit. (If your sander drum is too tight apply some fine sawdust inside the belt to help slide the sandpaper on). 
  • Check that the drum of your sander is levered / lifted off the floor to prevent accidental sanding when you start up the motor.
 

3. Sanding

  • For best results, move the sander in the same direction, working along the grain one row at a time. Move slowly and evenly for a consistent finish.

  • At the end of each row lift the drum off the floor and wheel the sander back to the start of the next row – remembering to lower it gently to begin sanding again.

  • Once you finish sanding, sweep up and complete a second pass using finer (i.e. 120-grit) sandpaper.

  • To change the sandpaper at any stage during sanding, remember to turn the sander off and unplug it from the wall first. 
     

4. Sealing

Applying varnish will lock in your finish and protect your floors from future wear and tear. 

  • Wait until the sanding dust has fully settled; then vacuum (or sweep) your area thoroughly. 

  • Wipe the floorboards with methylated spirits and leave to dry completely.

  • Apply 1-2 coats of varnish, in-line with the grain of your floorboards.

  • Always wear a mask and open windows for ventilation. 

Talk to Coates Hire about all of your flooring needs, or find your local branch.

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