These days, hardwood flooring is a staple in trendy Melbourne homes.It’s hard-wearing, naturally beautiful, will add value to your home, and each type of wood has its own unique character. Over time, however, even the toughest hardwood floor will start to show signs of wear.
Everyday wear and tear will eventually lead to some splitting and splintering, scratching and fading. But don’t despair. From time to time, timber flooring will require a little care and love to get it back to pristine condition. This means floor polishing and floor sanding.
Sanding and polishing your timber floors will bring even heavily damaged flooring back to life. It’s a rewarding (and completely do-able) project for the home DIY enthusiast. However, it can be tricky (and messy) if you don’t know what you’re doing.
So, we’re going to run you through the basics of what’s involved in restoring your hardwood floors. While by no means a comprehensive guide, this is designed to help you decide whether you want to tackle the project yourself, or bring in the pros.
Floor sanding – 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
Professional sanding equipment can be hired from good hardware stores, but the rest will need to be purchased.
Preparing the floorboards
Before you can start sanding the floor, you need to prepare not just the floorboards but the surrounding area. Timber sanding will give off huge amounts of sawdust, which will get into absolutely everything. So, before sanding anything you need to remove everything you can from the room. Anything that can’t be removed should be completely covered and taped, especially anything in contact with the floor that could be damaged during sanding, like table legs or skirting boards.
You should also look to dust proof as much as the house as possible. Cover any vents, ducts or grills, as well as power outlets and anything else dust can get into.
Use a hammer and nail punch to make sure all nails and other floor fixings are sitting 3-4mm below the level of the floorboards. Any protruding metal will damage your sanding equipment. Once you’ve done this, you need to thoroughly sweep and vacuum the room to remove any dust and debris. Particles caught between the floorboards and the sander can scratch the timber, and these scratches can be difficult to remove.
Finally, make sure your sanders are properly set up, have the appropriate grit sandpaper and that you’re familiar with all operational and safety guidelines.
Sanding the floor
Once you’ve prepared the floorboards, it’s time to start sanding. Use a drum sander to tackle the open spaces on the floor and an edge or detail sander to do the edges, corners and other hard to reach places.
Ideally, you should completely sand the floor three times using different sandpaper grits each time. The grit will indicate how coarse the sandpaper is. Low grit numbers are coarser and should be used for the first round of sanding. High grit numbers are finer and should be used for the final round of sanding or finishing.
Make sure you thoroughly clean the floor between each round of sanding to prevent scratches to the floorboards.
Selecting and applying varnish
Once you are done sanding the floor, it’s time to move onto the polishing or varnishing. This will help to protect the timber as well as bringing out the natural beauty of the wood.
Selecting the gloss of the varnish is an important decision. High gloss has a lot of shine and will reflect a lot of light. A semi-gloss or matte varnish will reflect less light and better showcase the natural wood patterns. The choice you go for depends on the desired aesthetics of the room, the amount of light it gets and the type of timber floor you have.
Once you’ve selected your varnish, you need to prepare it for application. Make sure it’s properly mixed and at an ambient room temperature. Use a special varnish brush and use smooth strokes that follow the wood grain. And make sure you don’t paint yourself into a corner!
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 hiring professionals
If you’re thinking that this all sounds like a bit too much work, then you can always call in the professionals. Professional timber floor restoration will be more expensive than a DIY job, but you’re guaranteed premium results, and chances are the pros will be able to get it done faster than you could.