Sunday, October 26, 2008

Using A Hardwood Floor Sander

Refinishing your hardwood floors yourself can be time consuming and a bit scary at first but well worth it in the long run. It can cost a bundle to hire a professional to refinish your floors for you, but if you have the time, you can do it yourself. The most difficult part is learning to run the sander. Many people are afraid of ruining their floors, and you can really damage a floor if you do not take care in the sanding.

Sanding is fairly easy if you pay attention and the finish does not take as long to dry as you might have been led to believe. You can rent a sander from your local Home Depot or hardware supply store. You’ll need a drum sander, a belt sander or both. They will explain to you how to use the machine and tell you what kind of sand paper to purchase. They will also tell you what kind of stain and finish to get. Make sure you also pick up some dust masks because you will have saw dust everywhere.

The key to a good floor finish is the surface, so the most important thing when learning how to run the sander is getting a feel for the equipment. Sanders are not as hard to use as you think. They are loud and messy, but fairly easy to operate. Just keep the sander in motion at all times. Moving the sander in a constant motion will reduce the risk of damaging your floor. Equate it to using an iron on your clothes – if you stop in 1 spot too long you’ll burn a hole. The sander is similar since it creates a lot of heat, keeping it in 1 spot can burn or dent your floor.

The sander is a self propelling machine so it is easy to move, but you do need to keep in control of it at all times. Retain a firm grip on it when you power it up and you will get the hang of it after a few passes. You might even think it’s fun!

Once you have removed to old finish by sanding, of course, you will need to apply the new finish. First you will apply a stain (if you want a stain – some folks like to leave their floors natural) and then the finish to protect the floor. There are basically two types of floor finishes: one is oil-based and the other is water-based polyurethane. Furthermore, oil is broken down into a semi-gloss, gloss or satin. Satin is a good choice for a hardwood floor because it hides small flaws and lets the natural beauty of the wood show without a bright shine. An oil based finish will give your floor a warm amber glow. A water based finish will dry quicker and keep from yellowing.

Make sure you let each coat thoroughly dry before applying the next. Follow the manufacturers instructions on the finish before you occupy the room again. Usually you can move your furniture back in after about 24 hours.

Don’t be overwhelmed. Just take it one step at a time and you’ll soon have a beautiful new hardwood floor.

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