Sanding Your Floor

f you have a house with old carpets covering up reasonably sound wooden floorboards, why not consider getting rid of the carpets and exposing the beauty of the wood. Having a sanded and varnished or polished wooden floor can really enhance a room.

How To Do It

First, remove all the furniture from the room and take up any carpet. Remove everything off the walls too, as anything you leave in the room will get covered in dust. Then go over all the floorboards and bang in any nails poking their heads above the flat level of the floor with a nail punch. Once you've done this, run your hands over the floorboards to make sure all the nail heads are below the level of the surface. This is very important, as any nail heads poking up will rip the sandpaper of the sanding machine.  This could even actually wreck the machine.

Hiring The Machine

You will need two machines - a main drum or belt sanding machine and an edge sander. Try to get the newest type available, as they are usually easier to use, and make sure they come with dust bags like a vacuum cleaner. Otherwise you will end up with dust all over your house! Make sure that the hire shop not only demonstrates how to use the machine but also shows you how to change the sandpaper.

You will need several different grades of paper, starting with rough sandpaper, descending through medium sandpaper and finishing with a fine paper. The size of your room and the unevenness of your floorboards will determine how much sandpaper you will need, so be on the safe side- get a lot. You can always return what you don't use, but you don't want to have to run out to the shop to get more sandpaper in the middle of the job! As this is a very dusty and noisy job, you will not only need some disposable facemasks but it's also a good idea to use ear protectors.

Doing The Sanding

Once you have the sanding machine home and have the first sandpaper attached, you can start sanding the floor. Work from one side of the room to the other, working with the grain of the wood. Drum sanders are heavy beasts so let it do the work, similarly to the way you vacuum a floor. Be careful to let the machine down slowly onto the surface to avoid gouging the floor. Walk slowly and steadily across the floor as many times as you need to cover the whole floor. Slightly overlap each cut as you go, always working with the grain of the wood. Change the sandpaper with the same grade of paper as often as you need. Don't skimp on this, as the sandpaper stops working after a while. If you find you do gouge the floor you can tackle it later with the edge sander.

Then go round the edge of the floor on your knees using the edge sander. Don't forget to empty the dust bag frequently too. Sweep and vacuum the floor. Then change the grade of sandpaper and do the whole floor again. Then change the sandpaper grade again, and sand the whole floor again. Then vacuum and wash the floor and let it dry.

By now, you should have a beautiful floor ready to seal or varnish.