Which sander should I use?
Continuous Belt Floor Sander
Our continuous belt sander uses a sleeve of fibre backed sandpaper that slides onto a drum that rotates when the drum spins. Only a small part of the sandpaper is in contact with the floor and you get an aggressive cutting action that quickly cuts through the finish and wood. The belt sander is faster and more aggressive if you have a large room or a tough finish that you need to remove. The speed of the drum, the pressure applied, the grit of sandpaper and the pace at which you move will determine the cutting and finished look of the floor. You must keep the sander moving when the sandpaper is in contact with the floor to avoid creating grooves or marks. Clutch control enables you to lift the sander off the floor effortlessly offering the best most accurate control of the belt sander. It shouldn’t be used to go across the wood grain as this can result in scratches. If your floor has boards that are cupped, damaged or are covered with several layers of finish the belt sander is ideal to smooth them out.
The orbital sander uses a grinding action. The sanding pad oscillates back and forth in an orbital motion which results in a slower, lighter sanding action. It replies on the weight of the sander to provide the pressure to sand the floor. Due to random sanding action you don’t need to follow the grain of the wood to get a smooth finish and it is less likely to cause damage, but you must keep the sander moving when the sandpaper is in contact with the floor to prevent grooves or marks. When
using an orbital sander on a floor that is damaged or covered in several layers of finish it will take longer to acquire a smooth clean finish and several different coarse of sand paper grit will need to be used. For small areas, such as narrow hallways, cloakrooms or where the flooring runs at opposite angles the orbital sander is ideal.
The edge sander is a rotational sander that is used for areas that the belt sander cannot reach. The sweet spot on the machine is between the 12 o’clock and 3 o’clock position. Care needs to be taken around pipework due to the spinning metal disc holding the sandpaper. The machine should be used in a counter clockwise movement ensuring excessive pressure is not put on the machine which could potentially causing grooves and damage to the area.
Which grit is right for my floor?
24grit is used as a starting grit if the floor has obvious damage or layers of old finish. 36grit is used as a starting grit for floors that have minimal damage or finish. 60grit is used to take out the scratches from the 36grit but does not remove wood or finish 80grit is used to remove the scratches from the 60grit. This may be the final pass grit for some
hardwood floors 100grit is used to take out any scratches from the 80grit and can be used as a final grit for some floors
Steps to sanding your floor
Take everything out of the room and assess your floor honestly! It will probably not be as easy or as quick as you think.
Check the whole floor for nails and screws that are showing and knock them in. These will tear the sandpaper and damage machinery if left protruding! Sand all the main area with the belt sander using an appropriate grit sandpaper for the condition of your floor. You can do a test section with 36grit to see if this is removing the finish and some wood, if not start with 24grit. You will need to do more than one pass on each board. Using the edge sander, sand all the areas you couldn’t reach using the same grit sandpaper Sweep or vac the floor. Sand the floor again using the belt sander and edge sander with the next grit of sandpaper – repeat using a finer grit sandpaper each time until you have the feel and look you desire. You will usually have sanded the floor at least 4 times, sweeping or vacuuming each time you have changed grit. Scrape or hand sand around radiator pipes and in corners. Check the whole floor, especially around the perimeter for swirl marks, sand these out by hand. Vac the floor again and remove any remaining dust with a microfibre or lint-free cloth.
Sealing your floor
Choose which type of seal/finish you would like and follow the manufacturers guidelines. Ensure you follow the drying times, allowing sufficient drying time in between coats or you risk leaving marks in the floor. Your floor will need a light sand/screen in between the coats of your seal/finish. Sand the floor either by hand or using a finishing sander, a minimum of 120grit, mesh discs are best as these are not as aggressive as sandpaper, give the whole floor a light sand. Clean the floor again using a microfibre or lint-free cloth.
How long will the sanding process take?
It will take the average customer around 5 hours to sand a room that is 4m x 3m, doing 3 passes with both the belt sander and edger sander. It will take longer if you have several layers of old finish to remove. If your floor has bitumen on, you will need to scrap this off before you start sanding as the belts and sanding discs will clog quickly as the bitumen melts.
How dusty will it be?
Each machine has a dust bag that is effective but isn’t ‘dust free’. We do have Dust Control units that are HEPA filtered that you can hire to minimise the amount of dust that escapes into the air. If you decide to just use the dust bags, empty these on a regular basis. Always wear a mask.