The Importance of Regular Floor Care
Most people who have timber floors installed in their home will wonder how often they need to get their floors sanded and polished. The truth of the matter is that it depends on how much traffic the floor gets. The more there is, the higher the chances are that there will be scratches and dullness on the surface. A floor sanding and polishing well done will ensure that you only have to repeat the process every five to ten years. So this is what you'll need to do in order to polish your floors the right way.
A floor sander, also known as a drum sander, and an edge sander are essential tools when sanding and polishing floors, especially timber floors. Both types of equipment require sandpaper discs that come in different grades of grits from 40, 60, and 80 to 120. You can find these at your local hardware store. While you're there you should also buy yourself some ear plugs as floor sanders can be extremely loud and cause hearing damage.
To avoid damaging your floors during the polishing process, you should lower the drum sander slowly onto the floor. Start moving the sander slowly in a forward motion as soon as the disc touches the floor. Don't get distracted and stay in one place at the same time or the sander may dig into the timber floor. You should avoid backing up or turning the floor sander while the disc is in contact with the timber floor as it will have similar detrimental effects on the surface.
As you sand, timber oils will be released. In order to avoid clogging the sandpaper, sprinkle some kerosene ahead of the area. If you happen to see nail holes on the floor, you should use timber putty that matches the colour of your floor and fill the hole or holes. Don't continue sanding right away though. You should wait about 30 minutes to let the putty dry first.
The biggest obstacle you might run into is the edges on the floor because a floor sander won't be able to sand there. This is where an edge sander comes in handy. Use a sandpaper disc with a grit of 60 and then do another pass with an 80 grit to make the edges smoother.
There are two types of floor finishes that can be used with timber floor polishing. The first is a polyurethane floor finish which can be highly toxic. So wear gloves, eyewear and a mask while applying the polish. Keep the area in your home well ventilated to avoid health problems.
You can use a safer alternative which is an oil based resin. It doesn't produce the same long term results that polyurethane does but it poses less risk to your health. The only con to using oil based resin is that it tends to highlight scratches and other imperfections on the surface of the floor.
Once you have applied the coat on your floor, give it 8 hours to dry at least before sanding the floor one last time with 120 grit sandpaper. Apply a second and third coat if needed but don't forget to sweep away any sanding dust residue in between the process.
The whole process will last about three days and you should wait about 24 hours after applying the final coat before allowing people to walk on your floor.