How to renovate and sand a wooden floor
You will need:
- Nail punch
- Drum sander
- Wide masking tape
- Flexible wood filler
- Floor sander
- Edging sander
- Dust mask
- Ear protection
- White spirit
- Sanding block
- Old chisel
Sanding old floorboards is one of the cheapest ways of giving a room a new look. Although it's dusty, hot work, the results can be dramatic and you should be able to tackle a room in a weekend, including the varnishing.
Time to complete job: A weekend.
Approximate budget: Expect to pay around £70 for the hire of a floor sander and edge sander for a weekend. Sanding discs and sheets will cost around £2 each.
You can sand neglected parquet and original woodstrip floors as well, but take care as the timber is thinner than floorboards.
For hire equipment information, see the Hire Association Europe. Always follow the safety advice provided with hired equipment.
Tip: Sanding is noisy. To keep your neighbours happy only work in the daytime and give them some notice of when you want to start work.
If you want a wood finish, but don't want to sand, here's our guide to flooring
Step 1: Preparation
Take up any old floor coverings and remove pictures, curtains and as much of the furniture as possible. Cover anything left in the room with dust sheets.
Hammer down any protruding nails in the floorboards with a hammer and nail punch, as these will rip the sanding sheets. You must also fix down any loose boards and fill large gaps with pieces of new board.
Tip: To stop dust going over the rest of the house, make sure you have everything you need in the room and seal around the internal doors with masking tape. Open any windows and exterior doors.
Step 2: Coarse grade sanding
Work diagonally across the boards with the floor sander. If the boards aren't stained and are in good condition, start with the medium grade sanding sheets. Otherwise, start with the coarse grade sheets.
Work slowly across the room, overlapping each strip and keeping the machine moving all the time to stop ruts forming.
Tip: Sand across the room a second time in the opposite direction to remove deep stains.
Step 3: Medium grade sanding
Once you have sanded away the worst of the staining, swap to the medium grade sheets and sand in the direction of the boards.
Finish off with the fine abrasive, again working up and down the boards.
Tip: Empty the dust collection bag regularly to prevent it bursting with the weight of the dust.
Step 4: Edging & corners
To finish off the edges of the room, use the round edging sander. Start with the coarse discs and work through the sanding grades in the same way. Work as close to the skirting boards as possible.
Use a small orbital sander or abrasive paper wrapped around a wooden block to reach into the corners of the room. You may find an old chisel is useful for scraping dirt out of the corners.
You could also use an angle grinder fitted with a flexible abrasive disc to sand in corners and other awkward places.
Fill large cracks in the boards with a matching colour of flexible wood filler.
Step 5: Sealing & varnishing
Take all the materials and tools out of the room and thoroughly vacuum the floor. To remove the finer dust, wipe over the new surface with a cloth dampened with white spirit. Take your shoes off for this stage to protect the bare wood from marks.
It's essential the boards are sealed with either a clear wood finish or paint. Choose a quick-drying acrylic floor varnish if you want to keep the natural grain of the timber visible.
Use a brush or a small foam roller to apply at least two coats (three for hardwearing areas such as hallways).
You can change the wood colour of the sanded boards by colouring with a timber stain before you varnish the floor. Apply this over the whole floor, working quickly up and down each board and seal with varnish. You can can also get all-in-one products which stain and varnish.
Tip: Start varnishing the floor in the furthest corner of the room from the door, and work back to the door. Leave to dry overnight.