Floor Sanding FAQs

Here you will find a set of typical questions and answers which address most of the main issues and concerns that might enter your mind as your consider your sanding project.

Simply select a question from the list to find our expert answer:

Q. How long will it take to sand a medium-sized room?

A medium sized room takes approx 4 to 5 hours if it is old floorboards which have not been sanded before. On previously finished and hardwood or parquet floors, it should take a little less.

Q. Can I use a big machine on parquet?

Yes, because our big machine is lever-operated so you can control the raising and lowering of the drum. It won’t damage the floor.
For best results, use a fine-finisher to “table-top” finish afterwords.

Q. Do I need to punch the nails in below the surface of the floor?

Traditionally, because of poor-quality paper-backed abrasives, this was necessary. However, with our cloth abrasives, provided the nails are level with the floor and not above them, you don’t need to set the nails.

Q. Why is the cloth 24 grit abrasive expensive?

We do 3 qualities of the rough ‘clean-up’, or 24 grit grade for the regular big machine. Although we stock it, we don’t recommend the regular hire shop type paper, as the abrasive is too soft for such a large, heavy-duty grit, as this quality frequently breaks and blocks the machine. Overall it is also more expensive! You use 3 or 4 sheets to every 1 of our silicone carbide cloth belts. Our cloth belts are nylon-impregnated and also have a superior glue holding the abrasive grit so they last much longer.

The most efficient and fastest cutting of the lot is our top-of-the range Zirconia sheet which lasts the longest, easily 5 or 6 times longer than a normal hire shop paper and cuts the fastest. The cloth is thicker and the grit continually renews itself by splitting and forming new sharp particles.

Q. Can the sanders get rid of paint, glue and carpet foam?

Regular household paint on a floor is not usually an issue, because of our unique abrasives. Zirconia cloth belts should definitely be used to remove regular household paint from a floor. The black bitumen-type paint which frequently ‘picture-frames’ floors in old houses, usually about a metre all round the edge, can be more of a challenge. However, with the zirconia abrasive, and the instructions in our book on how to get rid of it, you should get it all off. It will take a little longer, however, you will be rewarded with a particularly attractive floor at the end, because usually the quality of wood was superior when this finish was put around the edges. (The first few coats of that the “bitumen” would have been put on as a tint for the wood grain to show through. Traditionally, the tint matched the tiles in the fireplace, but over many applications the original colour would have been lost.)

Q. How much will the abrasive cost for the big machine and edger?

Approx £18-25 per medium-sized room.

Q. How do I get the bit right in the corners and behind radiators clean?

We sell a very useful item called a Tungsten scraper for that.

Q. Do you provide goggles, gloves, masks and earmuffs?

In short, “Yes”!

Q. Should I decorate before or after sanding?

Before is usually best. It is much easier to touch up the odd scuff on the skirting caused by the edger (although ours have a protective Velcro strip on the front) than try to protect your newly-floor varnished floor or re-do new lacquer where it has been scratched by ladders or splashed with paint.

Remember our machines are virtually dust-free, so any small amount of dust can easily be got rid of.

Q. What kind of floor varnish should I use?

We usually recommend, and only stock, high-quality water-based floor varnish products, as they are non-toxic, non-yellowing and quick drying. Please note that this new, water-based technology has only really matured in the last few years, and some well-known and widely-sold products are not very durable. They can need re-doing in under a year in some cases, whereas our floor varnishes are designed to last at least 5 years, some up to 20, subject to conditions and regular maintenance, etc.

Q. How many coats will I need?

2 coats in lightly-used areas like bedrooms, 3 coats in living areas, and 4 coats in entrance halls, kitchens and bathrooms.

Q. How much water-based floor varnish will I need?

Approximately 5L for 2 coats on 25 square metres.

Q. I can't decide whether to use gloss, satin or matt.

Gloss as a finish is not popular as it shows up any minor imperfections in the floor. However, it is sometimes used effectively on tropical/darker woods for a particular look. Satin, which is between gloss and matt, is the popular contemporary look. It has a sheen and reflects some light, and is forgiving of the odd minor imperfection. Matt, although still a small part of the market, gives a very natural waxed look.

Q. Which wears better, gloss, satin or matt?

In the 20th century, when solvent-based polyurethanes were common, gloss was harder wearing, because manufacturers used additives which weaken the finish to achieve a satin or matt look. However, with our range of water-based floor varnishes, there is no difference in durability between matt, satin and gloss finishes.

Q. What's the best way to apply the floor varnish?

Professionals use rollers. However, if you are doing one or two rooms, you can achieve better results with a large inexpensive floor brush, which we stock. If doing a hardwood floor in a large area, it would be worth using a roller or T-bar.

Q. How long does it take to dry?

Around 1 hour for the first coat, 2 hours for the second coat. On a damp humid day, a little longer.

Q. What's the difference between floor varnishes, oils and waxes?

Floor varnish coats the top surface of the floor, and forms a hard surface when it dries. This is the usual way of finishing wood floors.

Oil is sometimes used on hardwoods i.e. oak, walnut, tropical hardwoods etc. It works by being absorbed into the timber and relies on the natural inherent strength of the timber itself to protect its surface. If oil is being used, the floor should be fine-finished in preparation. With pine floorboards and the softer hardwoods, oil finish doesn’t seem to work as well. It is important that you see an oiled finish with your type of wood floor to see if this finish suits your floor style.

Shellack and wax finish: pre-1960’s, shellack, a French-polish type floor varnish was used, which was then waxed over. This system is very highmaintenance and not suitable at all in kitchens and living rooms, as wax leaves white deposits when in contact with water. It is also very slippery when wet.