Image source: Indulgy
One of the very first things we did when we moved to our new house was rip up the carpets. They were old and rather dirty and gave the house a kind of fusty smell which wasn’t very welcoming. We were lucky in that all but one room greeted us with either lovely wide tongue and groove floorboards either that, or our gorgeous Edwardian tiled floor.
Only one room had sadly been modernised with some rather fetching mottled brown and grey floor tiles sealed onto the floorboards with the stickiest black glue you can imagine. What we are going to do about that remains to be seen but we are very clear that we want to keep all the floorboards exposed in the other rooms.
There is something so beautiful and warm about wooden floors and they are incredibly practical in a house with children and dogs.
Given their current state (complete but very old and occasionally painted) we are going to need to get sanding! There is so much information out there on sanding, what to do, what not to do and especially what sander and equipment to use that it’s a bit of a minefield. We’ve done our research and purchased our equipment ready for sanding as well as taken note of all the tips we’ve gathered along the way.
I’ve summarised all the helpful information from all corners of the web into a guide to sanding floors tips and tricks. I thought I’d share it in case anyone else fancies having a go at sanding their floor. Wish us luck and of course please share any good tips I’ve missed in the comments!
- If you’ve got the time and patience to do it yourself it can be really worth it, getting someone in to sand your floors is expensive!
- You will need a main belt sander and an edging / detail sander. You can hire floor sanders but they are rather costly and you have the added time pressure of getting it all done that weekend. If like us you have a large house then maybe it’s a good idea to invest in a good quality sander like we have. There is no way we would ever get the whole house sanded in a weekend so this is much more suitable for us. Do your research on the best sander for your job.
- Make sure the room is completely empty before attempting to sand. You will create a lot of dust. Take down curtains too. Try and open all windows and close the door. Tape the door off to try and contain the dust. Apparently if you empty your dust bag before it gets full this can help reduce the dust levels. Don’t forget your professional dust mask!
- Make sure all your nails are knocked in before you sand so that the surface is even and the sander doesn’t get caught.
- Fill in any gaps between floorboards on the ground floor as these let in cold air! (Even though ours are tongue and groove I’ve noticed in the few places they have been cut to allow access below in lets in a hell of a draft.) You can do this with thin slivers of wood or specialist product designed to fill in the gaps.
- You will most certainly need earplugs and if you have joined neighbours maybe it’s kind to do it when they are out or at least let them know you will be doing it.
- Sand in the direction of the wood grain, moving side to side as you work your way down the plank.
- Do check that any paint on floorboards (older than 1960’s) is not lead based paint which is pretty nasty stuff if it gets into the air, especially for children and pregnant women). You can pick up a test to check this. If it is lead based you will need to find a specialist product to remove it first – don’t just sand it off!!
- Start with really coarse sandpaper, like 20 or 40 grit moving gradually in steps (then to 80 grit) to finer grit paper (120 grit). Don’t miss out any of the stages of sanding as they are all important! Remember to change your sandpaper often.
- Vacuum and wipe down between each sanding stage. When you are finished wash your floor down with white spirit and water and leave to dry before varnishing or oiling!