Q: I took 20-year-old carpeting up and have 80-year-old pine floors underneath. I sanded with a machine and sandpaper recommended by a local home store, then stained with a stain recommended by another store (only one coat, and nothing else applied). The sander left marks on the floor from its wheels, and never did sand all the old dark stain off.
I went through 20 pads on the sander, and when I would turn the machine off, the burned up sandpaper pads left black gunk on the floors that I had to scrape up with a screwdriver, and I still couldn’t get it all off.
I now have floors that still have a few pet stains, roller marks from the wheels of the sander, burned charcoal-like black gunk from the sandpaper pads, and have uneven color from never being able to fully remove the old stain, no matter how many times I went over it.
Is there anything I can do to redo it and get it to look decent, or does it need to be professionally redone?
A: Not to be very critical, but you summed it up in your last statement. Hire a professional. It is a lot easier to say that than to write a book about sanding and finishing, which takes an apprenticeship to do well.
I may never understand why people think my job is so easy, that anyone could do it.
We are going to sand our floors
Q imported from our old site, Face Lift Floors (Webmaster note: I’m just going to leave it as it came instead of editing out the CAPS and spelling errors. Enjoy!): I HAVE JUST BOUGHT A HOUSE THAT IS 70 YEARS OLD AND I WANT TO SAVE THE WOOD FLOORS THE FLOORS WERE NEVER FINISHED SO WE ARE GOING TO SAND THEM SHOULD WE RENT A SANDER WHAT TYPE OF GRIT SHOULD WE USE I ALSO NEED TO KNOW DO WE VARNISH THE FLOORS WHAT WITH SOME ONE TOLD ME THAT IT NEEDS TO BE A CLEAR VARNISH AND HOW MANY COATS DO WE NEED TO USE THEN DO YOU POLOURATHANE THE FLOORS HOW MANY COATS?
A: All your questions reveal exactly why sanding and finishing floors is not a job for the novice. You may give me all the tools of a surgeon, but that in no way qualifies me to operate on anyone! Believe me, it takes months to become skilled at using the equipment, and without that skill, what you are likely to accomplish, in your desire to save money, is to drastically shorten the life of the new floors you have. Rental machines also, do not even hold a candle to a professional machine. Even if I answer all your questions, and you may think that now you are ready to do this job.. you are not even remotely ready. But, if you insist, I will tell you my procedure.
I usually do the first sanding with a 40 grit abrasive. the next sanding will be with an 80 grit. the edges will need to be fine sanded with a 4X8″ orbital sander with an 80 grit, and the main floor area polished with a 100 grit screen. All corners must be scraped clean and flat by hand. After vacuuming thoroughly all dust, apply a thin coat of polyurethane with a lambswool applicator. You cut in the edges with a brush. I always use gloss for the first coat. You should apply 3 coats. After each is dry, it will need to be lightly but thoroughly sanded either by hand or with a polisher and a 220 grit abrasive.
Every single step in this procedure takes skill. One final warning. Your floor is most likely only 3/8″ thick from top to bottom. The actual wear surface is much less and will tolerate in most cases, only 2 sandings.
You will likely leave many heavy sanding and drum marks which will require so much sanding by a professional to remove that the floors will have to be ripped out and replaced. I hope that helps.
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