If you want to save money and have the huge satisfaction of having refinished your own hardwood floors, you may attempt to sand them by yourself. Many homeowners take this route in order to cut down on costs, yet more than a few give up and hire professional hardwood floor sanding services to fix a floor that refuses to get sanded right.
In order to increase your chances of success, here is an idea about what you should expect from a hardwood floor sanding project – and what you need to finish the job.
A quality sanding machine
Sadly, the sanding machines you can find at a rental store are not the best quality. Constantly used with more or less care and badly out of tune, they do not compare with the costly machines that professionals use. Planetary sanders that are less inclined to leave marks are an alternative, but they require more time and patience, since they are often less powerful in removing the sealer.
A low-quality sandpaper may frustrate you or even convince you to give up. You may end up with clogged paper and getting into a vicious circle of buying more and achieving nothing. To avoid problems, do some research on the internet and find a quality sandpaper that is right for your machine.
This is the most critical part of the project and the one that most homeowners do not usually have. If this is your first time sanding floors, make sure that you spend a lot of time beforehand doing reading and research on what sanding entails. While learning about sanding cannot replace experience, it is a good start – and a way to avoid many mistakes by learning from those of others.
Unfortunately, sanding skills are acquired in time. Hardwood floor contractors have many sanding years behind them and have seen (and fixed) it all. Here are only a few things that you need to do and that get overwhelming fast is you are a beginner: tuning the machine, choosing the right sandpaper, having a good feel for how to maneuver the sander, what direction to sand in, how to sand patterned floors or multi-species floors if this is what you have etc.
If there is any guarantee in every sanding project is that something will go wrong. If you impose a short deadline on yourself and intend to rush through the project, you may end up not only in frustration, but with a wood floor that needs professional help.
Remember that sanding causes a major disruption in your daily life. Furniture is moved out, other areas of the house are cluttered, traffic through the house is rerouted, every corner is covered in dust, and the family is better off if temporarily relocated. If you do not feel up to the task, hire professional hardwood floor services, minimize the duration of the project and breathe easier.
If you have ever sanded a piece of furniture, you know that the process requires dedication. Considering the larger area and the higher stakes, sanding your hardwood floors will take a lot of patience that, most likely, you will occasionally lose. Get ready for a long process during which you will wonder how you ended up with this or that mark and will repeatedly have to go back and fix your own mistakes.
Remember that sanding your floors is not done in one step using only one grit. You will have to sand your floors a few times, starting with a more abrasive sandpaper suitable for removing the sealer and ending with a fine one that smooths the wood.
While usually three or four sanding passes are enough, it is not uncommon to need seven. However, patience is absolutely necessary. If you rush through the project and start maneuvering the sander in less than a steady way, you may ruin your floors or give yourself even more to fix.
Because we have seen many sanding projects gone wrong, we tend to recommend either hiring professional services for both sanding and refinishing, or a cheaper split approach, where you use the help of a hardwood floor contractor for sanding, but do the staining and sealing yourself. This will cut on cost, but will ensure that the floor is well prepared to properly receive the stain and end up with a uniform, perfect look.