Sanding a Timber Floor - How to Sand Floorboards and Use a Sander

Summary: Sanding a Timber Floor. Learn how to use a floor sander to sand floorboards. Whether you are sanding parquet or woodblock floors you will need to know how to use a floor sander. Get some great tips for DIY sanding floorboards.

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One of the most rewarding DIY jobs in the home is sanding an old floor and transforming it into a lovely new surface. This application is generally not suitable for parquet floors which are best done using a special sander for parquet. Information on this particular floor sanding can be obtained from Floor Sander Hire. Its as well to remember that pine floors, however flat they look, will probably have a slight dip in the middle of each board. Its easy, without the correct equipment, to get an uneven finish, so take care.

Trio

The parquet floor sander is the ultimate floor finishing sander, ideal for veneered floors, parquet and all hardwood strip floors a real pleasure to use. Leaves floors absolutely perfect with hardly any effort. Can be used in any direction as it does not need to follow the grain.

First use a nail punch and punch down all the nail heads to about 1 eighth of an inch below the surface. If you do not do this the nails will rip your sandpaper to pieces. Then you need to hire two sanders. These can be hired from Floor Sander Hire who will always give you fairly new machines with good quality dust bags. Older machines will fill your house with dust in seconds.

Belt sanders are used for the edges. These sanders are virtually dust free because of a huge dust bag, or collection unit, incorporated into the design. You will get a drum/roller sander which has the sandpaper attached to a big roller. To apply the roller sander to the floor its necessary to tilt the sander up and down to make contact. This can, in inexperienced hands, lead very easily, to huge gouges in the floor. Most belt type sanders use sandpaper on a belt which is operated so simply by a clutch type lever, making starting and stopping a much safer affair.

New belt sander
New belt sander

Old drum type sander
Old drum type sander

Edge sander
Edge sander

You will need a large sander for the main area, and one for the edges. For stairs you will just need the edge sander. These machines may be 110 volt and require a transformer, which you will be given at the hire shop. You will also need to buy some “throw away” facemasks.

40 grit, which is a very coarse paper, 80 grit, a medium paper and 120 grit, which is fine. The grit element refers to the actual pieces of grit in a given area.

The machines are very powerful, they have to be to give you the kind of surface you need. You must remember when using them, not to leave them in one place for one second too long, they will eat the floor. Keep them moving for a nice, even finish.

You need now to fit the 40 grit papers to both machines. Tilt the roller back so the paper is off the floor and press the trigger to get the feel of the machine. Lower it gently and let it pull you along at a steady rate. You can stop it any time you like so don’t get into a panic when you get to the end of the room, just turn it round and come back. It is always better to sand with the grain than across it.

If you have gaps in the floorboards that you do not want, see our filling gaps in floorboards project. Please remember though, when you varnish or stain the boards afterwards, the joint will come up a slightly different colour than the rest of the floor because its composition is different.

Keep at it until you have the main area sanded down to the new wood, there will probably be a few undulations in the boards, which will prevent you getting the big sander into some of the marks, but you can get them with the edge sander later.

Now use the edge sander to get close to the skirting boards and any marks mentioned above.

Change the paper to 80 grit and repeat the process and finally with the 120 grit.

These final passes are really to erase the scratch marks made by the first pass with the 40-grit paper. When you are happy that the floor is as smooth as you can get it, you are ready to apply the finish coat.

Hoover the floor completely, then leave for a couple of hours and repeat to ensure that you have removed as much dust as you possibly can.

For those of you who are in any doubt about how dusty this job can be if you do not use the modern up to date sanders take a look at this photo. This is a real job done by real people in a real house!! Apparently the dust got into every room in the house and took weeks to get clean. Thanks to Katie for the photo!

Sanding Dust

When you are sure the place is dust free, give the floor a wipe over with a rag soaked in white spirit. Wear gloves for this. This will clean up any surplus resin that has come out of the timber and generally de-grease the floor. Allow the spirits to evaporate for at least a couple of hours.

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