One of the advantages of a hardwood floor is that when it gets old, damaged, or discolored, you can usually restore its appearance by sanding it down to the bare wood and applying new stain to it. Refinishing an old wood floor is less expensive than installing new flooring, but it does require some skill. Before you attempt to sand the floor yourself, be sure you understand all the steps and know how to operate the equipment, or you could do more harm than good. These are the steps you take if you want to sand the floors yourself.
Do Prep Work First
Get down on the floor and examine it for raised nails and loose planks. Pull out carpet nails that may be near the walls and drive raised nails into the floor so the surface is level. If there is anything that can snag the sandpaper as you run the sander across the floor, it will rip the paper and ruin it. The paper for sanding machines is costly, so you don't want to waste it. Plus, ripping off the paper could cause you to damage the floor with the machine. Once the floor is level, make sure it is clean and dry.
In addition to prepping the floor, the room has to be prepped as well. The sanders have bags to collect sawdust, but there will still be dust thrown into the air. Seal off doors, the fireplace, vents, and even electrical outlets so dust won't spread throughout your house. Leave the windows open so you'll have plenty of fresh air and ventilation while you're working.
Rent The Equipment
You'll need different sanders to complete the job. You can rent the equipment from a home improvement store and buy the sandpaper you'll need. If the floors have a lot of damage, or if there is a heavy buildup of wax, you'll need a drum sander to get down to the bare wood. A drum sander is difficult to operate, so you want to practice in a small area first. In fact, if the job requires a drum sander, you may want to let a contractor do the job so you don't ruin your floors. You have to apply even, consistent pressure with the machine, or your floor will have gouges and ripples when you're done.
If the floor isn't in bad shape, you may get by with an orbital sander. In addition to being easier to handle, there is much less risk of scratching your floor with one of these. In addition, you'll need a small handheld sander for running along the walls and sanding corners. You'll need sandpaper for each type of machine, as well as paper for sanding by hand for a final finish. Buy coarse-, medium-, and fine-grit paper because you'll make multiple passes with the machines, using progressively finer grit.
Sand The Floor
Sanding is messy work, so you want to wear eye protection and a breathing mask. Also, the machines can be loud, so you may want ear protection too. Start with the largest sander and use the coarse-grit paper first. You can sand along the grain or at a diagonal. However, you don't want to sand straight across the grain or you may damage the wood. If your floor has a lot of wax or damage, you may want to start in a corner and sand diagonally across the entire floor and then switch to sanding along the grain on the last pass when you use fine-grit paper. Sand the entire floor with the coarse-grit paper, then vacuum the dust and start over with the medium-grit paper. Repeat the process with the fine grit. When finished, run your hand along the floor and use a sheet of sandpaper to manually smooth out any rough spots you find.
The final step to sanding the floor is cleaning up the mess. You want to be meticulous about it, or tiny bits of sawdust may end up in the coating you apply later and ruin the look of your floor. Sweep and vacuum the floor as well as the surfaces in the room such as windowsills and walls. Then, damp mop the floor and surfaces to get rid of lingering dust. After that, your floors should be smooth and clean—down to bare wood and ready for you to apply the new coating to make your floors look like new.
If you'd rather that a professional handle the sanding of your floors, contact a company like Kenton Carpet - Hardwood Floor Care.