Wood floor sanding! Whether you have a hardwood, softwood, herringbone parquet or strip board floor there are some simple basic guidelines that you must follow to get professional results when sanding a wooden floor. Firstly if you are hiring a belt sander for the job, make sure you get one with good dust extraction… this will save you dearly when you come to the clean and tidy up, also make sure it has a drum lift lever… this will limit the amount of drum marks you leave on the floor.
Preparation is vital at this stage, ensuring all the staples or nails are punched down will give a much better appearance and result but will also reduce the risk of sparks getting into the dustbag creating a fire hazard. What sandpaper to start with? Dependent on the condition of the floor (commercial or domestic environment) it may be required to start with a coarse grit such as a 24 or 36, you must however check the composition of the floor! Some wooden floors are termed engineered which means there is a real wood layer on top of a cheaper ply or soft wood backing, the top layer can vary dramatically from 1mm up to 10+mm which means you must be careful when using a coarse sandpaper not to go through the top layer of real wood.
Once you have determined the composition and condition of the wood floor you will need to start the sanding process using the correct grade of sandpaper (you may need to take advice on this), If you are sanding a strip floor that seems a little uneven work on a 15 degree angle from left to right along the grain of the timber, this will give you a flatter finish to the floor as you move through the grit ranges. Make sure you walk at an average pace when using a belt sander, too fast and the drum will not have enough time on the floor and too slow will result in an uneven cut. Having completed a 36 grit pass with the belt sander the next grit to move to will be a 50 grit (never jump more than two grit ranges!), you should now alter the angle that you passed on the previous grit, try 10 degrees the other way whilst still moving left to right. On completion of the 50 grit pass with the belt sander it would now be a good time to do the edges and corners, edges should be done on a left to right movement with a rotary edge sander, first with a 40 grit then followed by an 80 grit (tip – keep the edge sander moving in a circular motion so it doesn’t create swirl marks).
So, edges and corners are completed, now for the final passes of grits on the belt sander. It would be recommended to pass with an 80 grit sandpaper next, you will be running along the grain of the boards now to obtain a nice smooth finish. Once completed a final pass with the 120 grit to ensure a beautiful ultra clean smooth finish to your floor.
If you have access to a finishing sander, normally a three headed machine with dust extraction (lagler trio), run this over the floor with 120 grit papers and you will be amazed at the finish before you apply a coating or finish.
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