Timber floors are a valuable part of your home. Timber’s natural colour can add warmth to any space and a quality timber floor can add value to your home. If properly cared for, a timber floor should have a long life. However, over time even the best flooring will start to look worn. Heavy foot traffic, scuffs, scratches, dents and fading varnish can leave your timber flooring looking tired and old.
Refreshing old or worn timber flooring can be done by sanding back and repolishing. It’s a popular DIY project that can be done fairly cheaply and with a minimum of specialised equipment and know-how.
However, a DIY job is not without its risks. If the floor sanding and polishing is not done properly it can be easy to make mistakes and do damage to your flooring,which may be difficult and expensive to rectify.
If you’re looking to breathe some new life into your tired timber floorboards, then you may want to consider hiring professionals. Hiring the pros may cost a little more than doing it yourself, but it will save you a lot of time and you’re guaranteed quality results. MAB Timber Floors provides expert floor sanding in Melbourne, as well as professional floor polishing in Melbourne.
If you are determined to sand and polish your floorboards yourself, however,we have some important tips before you get started.
Floor Sanding in Melbourne – What You Need
Before you get started on sanding your floorboards you will need to make sure you have the appropriate equipment. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Drum sander
- Detail sander
- Dust mask
- Ear muffs
- Hand sander
- Nail punch
- Safety glasses
- Plenty of plastic wrap and tape
Prepare the Floorboards
Before you dive into the sanding process you will need to prepare your floorboards. Here’s what to do:
- Remove everything you can from the room. Removing all furniture, wall hangings, ornaments, electrical equipment etc. will help to prevent damage from the sanding equipment. Sanding also generates a lot of dust and you want to minimize the dust contamination to your furniture and anything else in the room. Anything that can’t be removed from the room should be thoroughly covered to prevent dust contamination. If there’s any furniture that can’t be removed, all exposed parts (e.g. table legs) should be covered or wrapped to prevent damage while sanding.
- Dust-proof everything you can. You don’t want the wood dust getting through the house, so you should cover any ducts or grills, power outlets or anything else the dust could get into. If you’re doing the floorboards in the kitchen, ensure you move the food to prevent dust contamination.
- Close all doors to other rooms and seal them to avoid getting dust through the house. Open all windows to let air in and dust out.
- Use a hammer and nail punch to make sure all nails and fasteners are sitting at least 3-4 mm below the level of the floorboards. Any nails protruding from the boards will damage the sanding belt.
- Thoroughly sweep and vacuum the room to remove any dust and debris.
- Make sure you have properly set up your power sanders and you’ve read all operation and safety instructions.
Let’s get sanding
Once the floorboards and the room are properly prepared, you’re nearly ready to get sanding. But first, you will need to make sure that your sanders are properly set up.
For sanding the floorboards, you will need a drum sander and an edge or detail sander. The drum sander will be used to sand the open spaces on the floor, while the edge sander is needed to sand the edges, corners and other hard to reach places.
In general, it’s recommended to sand the floor three times using three different types (or grits) of sandpaper. A sandpaper’s grit indicates how coarse or fine it is. A high grit number (i.e. more ‘grains’ per square centimetre) is a fine sandpaper, while a low number is coarse. The sanding process should begin the with coarsest paper and finish with the finest.
The sandpaper grits you use will depend on the type of wood, the age of the floors and the depth of the wear or damage you need to remove.
For each sanding, make sure the drum and detail sanders are using the same grit sandpaper. And be sure to vacuum between each sanding to remove sawdust as you go.
Before you do the final finest grit sanding, you should fill in any nail holes and cracks with a water-based putty, giving it time to dry.The final sanding will determine the smoothness of the timber floor, so take your time with this round.
Once the sanding is done, thoroughly vacuum and clean the floor to remove all traces of dust and debris before moving on to the polishing step.
Floor Polishing in Melbourne
Once the sanding is done, it’s time to move onto the polishing or sealing. Sealing a timber floor helps to protect the timber and highlight its natural beauty. It also prevents stains and makes the floor much easier to clean.
There are two main types of floor varnish: water-based and oil-based. Water is generally preferable as it is quicker to dry and has less odour. You will also need to choose the gloss level of your varnish. High gloss has a lot of shine and reflects a lot of light. Semi-gloss or matte varnishes reflect less light and make the natural wood patterns more visible. The gloss you choose depends on the aesthetic you’re going for, the kind of timber flooring, and the amount of light in the room.
The different types of varnish also have a range of properties that makes them more or less suited to different areas around the house. For example, urethane, urethane-alkyd and polyurethane varnishes are more resistant to moisture making them good for bathrooms and kitchens.
Water-based varnishes based on polyurethane resins are more resistant to abrasion and so work well in hallways and stairways. For high-traffic areas, urethane varnishes with an anti-slip component are well suited.
Whichever varnish you select, it will need to be mixed according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Once properly mixed you can begin applying it to the floor. Here’s a few tips for applying the varnish:
- Make sure the varnish and the ambient room temperature are between 12 and 25 degrees Celsius. This temperature range is necessary for the varnish to dry properly and retain its decorative and protective properties
- Use a special varnish brush
- Use smooth brush strokes to prevent bubbles forming and follow the direction of the wood grain
- It may seem obvious, but don’t paint yourself into a corner. Have a think about how you’ll leave the room (i.e. work your way towards an open door)
Once you’re done applying a coat of varnish, allow ample drying time. Drying times will differ by type and manufacturer so consult the manufacturer’s instructions. Each layer must be completely dry before you apply subsequent layers.
DIY vs Professionals
Sanding and polishing a timber floor is a DIY job that can be carried out without too much experience or specialised equipment. If you do it right, you can even expect results comparable to those delivered by the professionals.
As satisfying as the final DIY result can be, however, you will want to consider some of the pros and cons before getting started.
Pros of DIY
- Cheaper than paying a professional
- A challenge and a learning opportunity
Cons of DIY
- Labour intensive and time consuming
- Risk seriously damaging the floor
- Lack of professional equipment and know-how
- Can be very expensive to fix mistakes and damage
If you want to save some time and make sure you get the best possible results, then hire the pros. At MAB Timber Floors we provide expert timber floor sanding and polishing across Melbourne.