Floor sanding and polishing
Professional wood floor sanding and polishing on Vancouver Island, BC.
Why choose an expert?
The difference between D.I.Y and choosing a professional floor sander and polisher?
What’s the difference between floor sanding yourself or engaging a trained professional?
If you decide to sand, polish, refinish or resurface wood floors yourself, rather than engage an experienced floor sanding professional, you’ll need to get the equipment at a tool-rental center. Take note that these are domestic sanders and will not sand a floor as effectively as the commercial grade dust-free system we use at Island Floor Finishing. The main tool you will rent is a drum sander, but there are many other items needed to complete the various stages of floor sanding and polishing.
Professional floor sanders use either a rotating 8, 10 or 12-inch belt sanders. These machines are heavy and draw power from the same 220volt outlets used by most kitchen ranges and dryers in Vancouver Island homes. Unlike rental machines(which are smaller and less powerful) commercial belt sanders will remove old coatings, scratches or paint when combined with different grit cloth paper belts. It takes many hours to develop the skills to sand a floor evenly using either a commercial belt sander or rental machine. Domestic rental machines are powerful enough to cause irreversible dents and gouges in your wood floors if not handled correctly.
Large belt sanders can only reach up to 6 inches away from baseboards. For this reason, a rotary edge sander is required to finish off the areas left after belt sanding. Even though “edgers” are smaller and lighter than belt sanders, they are still extremely powerful. The speed and power produced by a 110v floor edger will remove old coatings and flatten areas not accessible by the larger belt sander. Hours of training is required to both remove old coatings and smooth out the areas around based boards. A professional is able to sand all the way up to the baseboards without the need to remove them as well as sand and strip difficult to reach places around the home. Using either a commercial or rental belt sander or edger without the proper training and safety equipment is guaranteed to either ruin your floor, cause serious harm to yourself or both.
There are several commercial grade floor polishers are available to professionals and as rentals. The 2 main types are the rotary(spinning) style which pros use, and orbital(oscillating) for the rental and D.I.Y person. Polishers are only effective at either polishing raw wood floors prior to coating or in-between coats. Polishers are not effective at removing existing coatings and should never be used for this purpose(regardless of what rental companies tell you). Most professional floor sanders prefer the rotary style polishers as they are more effective at removing the marks left behind after belt and edge sanding. Every process in wood floor resurfacing complements the one before and if polishing is skipped, or rushed the final finish will be compromised. Just like the large belt sander, polishers are unable to sand all the way to the edges of baseboards and in corners. For this reason, a random orbital sander is used. Island Floor Finishing use commercial vacuums that are connected to polishers and orbital floor sanders, this drastically reduces the dust created while floor sanding on Vancouver Island.
Coating a wood floor with either an oil or water based product is a highly skilled process. Any attempt by an inexperienced person to coat a floor can lead to failure of the finish and the entire refinishing process. A professional will train for several years to correctly coat a floor with stains and finishes. Temperature, humidity, moisture and the various species of wood found around Vancouver Island will require different coating techniques. Coating a floor requires many different pieces of equipment, these include; painters pole and brush, applicator or roller, bucket or tray, gloves, non-marking old shoes, protective clothing as well as humidity and moisture meters. Solvents may be needed to clean your equipment after each use if oil-based finishes are chosen. A 2-3 coat system is considered the industry standard and varies on the species of wood being coated and the type of finish used. A coating system is generally a sealer coat(or stain coat if required) and 2 top coats of clear finish in either satin, semi-gloss or gloss with polishing between the 2 final coats.
The floor sanding and polishing process will involve many stages which require different equipment, skills, and techniques. Rental machinery and equipment will not produce the results a professional can. Combining the right machinery and techniques is the only way to ensure a top quality finish on your floors. My process has developed over the past 20 years and combines methods and materials to guarantee the highest standard for all our floor sanding and polishing on Vancouver Island, BC.
Even the best floor sanders will need to scrape corners and hard to reach spots. A sharp handheld scraper is best to remove built-up floor coatings often found in corners.
With many different styles of floor finishes available, it can be difficult choosing which to use in your home? Owner Matt can offer advise on a suitable product for your home.
I hope you have found some useful information on my website, If you have any further questions please contact me via email or phone.
How to sand off old floor coatings?
Correct safety equipment including earmuffs, good quality dust masks, and gloves are the most important part of the floor sanding process. Rental floor sanding machines are not as effective at collecting dust. For this reason, thorough taping and masking off the surrounding areas is needed before starting. ALL the old finish must be removed and may need 3-4 different grits depending on what is being sanded off? Floor sanding machines are so powerful that when paused in one spot, a gouge or dip will result. This is the most common problem when inexperienced operators decide to sand a hardwood floor. Depending on the finish, you will need at least 40, 60, and 100grit paper and possibly 24 or 36 for tougher coatings.
Will you punch and fill nails?
Punching nails and removing staples should be done prior to using any floor sanding machinery. Floor sanding machines all have delicate rubber drums and discs If nails and staples are not removed or punched and filled they will damage these expensive parts of the machine. It is not recommended to fill between boards due to expansion and contraction, however, it is possible. A large flexible trowel or tapers tool, knee pads, and disposable gloves are needed to apply a colored putty solution to the hardwood floor. After dry the putty is dry it becomes hard which can result in it cracking and falling out of gaps between boards.
What type of sandpaper will be used on my floor?
I have personally needed to use 8, 16, 24, 36, 40, 50, 60, 80 and grits up to 300 to sand and polish hardwood floors over the past 20 years. While my experience enables me to estimate what grits of sandpaper I will need to remove old coatings, I can never be sure how old finishes will react when hit with fast-moving floor sanders. For this reason, I carry a variety of quality cloth sanding belts, sanding screens and polishing discs to all jobs around Vancouver Island, BC
Can floors be sanded year round?
Before a floor can be effectively coated, several environmental conditions must be met. Temperatures should not be too far above or below 20 degrees Celsius. High levels of humidity will prolong the drying process and moisture levels within the wood should not exceed 12-14%. While the climate varies during the seasons on Vancouver Island, homes are generally well insulated and temperatures can be controlled during both the summer and winter months. We will check and monitor the environmental impact on floor finishes before and during the floor sanding and coating process.
How much dust will be left behind?
The minimization is an important part of sanding and polishing. While all modern commercial grade floor sanders are considered dust-free, It should be expected a very small amount of residual dust will remain on the floor during sanding. Island Floor Finishing uses a system that combines these dust-free floor sanders and polishers with a commercial HEPA filter vacuum. This system dramatically reduces the amount of dust while sanding and any residual dust left behind is collected before the coating system is applied. Clients are regularly surprised by how clean their homes are after sanding and polishing.
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