Thursday, January 17, 2013

Successful Hardwood Floor Stripping

The art of any type of real Wood Floor Renovation begins with stripping the boards of old veneer. So it follows that this initial process must be carried out perfectly as it is the foundation upon which the whole of your refinishing project will stand.

Throughput traffic, sunlight and natural scrapes and scores can cause your wood finishing (and varnish in particular) to look off-colour and tired looking. Of course this can be aided to a degree by a professional buffing and polishing, but there will come a time when even that won’t do the trick and your floor will need to be stripped back to the base wood, sanded and a new topcoat applied.

Floor stripping is an excellent excuse for fixing those annoying squeaks and creaks that have accumulated over the years, and damaged boards can also be repaired or replaced at this time.

Stripping your wood

The best and cleanest way to remove the old finishing is to use an industrial sanding machine which you ‘walk’ along the grain of the boards at a slow and steady pace. The sander will take the veneer off as it moves, leaving your floor smooth to the touch. The main caveat of using a sander is never to have it switched on whilst stationary as this will cause nasty gauges in the boards that will be practically impossible to repair.

When sanding it is best to leave a circumference of about nine inches or so around the room that you will work on with an orbital or edging sander to make sure you get right up to the skirting and into those difficult to reach nooks and crannies. If you find some particularly stubborn spots that the big sander has not removed, rather than risk over-sanding and damaging the boards you can use the hand-held sander in those areas too.

It is unlikely that you will get away with just one sanding, especially if your floor has not been stripped for many years, or indeed ever! So when you hire the machine make sure to select various grades of sandpaper. Your first sanding should be with paper of the roughest grain, becoming finer with each sanding. After each sanding leave the dust to settle down for at least 20 minutes before sweeping or vacuuming and carrying out the sanding.

A general rule of thumb would be that if your floor has been sanded within the last 15 years or so you will require two sandings and if your floor has never been sanded to your knowledge then you can safely sand three times using rough, medium and fine grades of paper before moving on to the finishing coat.

Stripping hardwoods is a fairly exacting science and should never be hurried. Don’t try to squeeze floor stripping into a day off work or even a weekend. Your floor deserves the best workmanship if it is to look its best and that means following each step of the process so that you have an evenly stripped and ultra smooth floor on which to build your new veneer.

If you are unsure of any part of the wood stripping process you are best advised to take professional advice rather than risk ruining your floor. A specialist consultation with a reputable flooring company will be free and you will also gain an accurate assessment of your floor’s general condition.

Whilst there are products on the market you can use to strip Hardwood Floor Sanding without benefit of sanding, these products are not be recommended by wood care specialists in place of sanding.  If you do decide to use a wood stripper, apply in strictly accordance with guidelines.

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