Floor Sanding Every Few Years. True or False?
Yes, and no. This one is highly subjective. There are a lot of unknowns in this equation. If you truly strive for perfect, unblemished, flawless looking floor, then the answer is yes, you need to sand every few years. The unknowns here come from the factors influencing your floor’s health. Just how much traffic is your floor expected to suffer daily? Do you have kids or maybe pets? Do you have problems with moisture? Has your floor even been laid properly?
As you can see, there are a lot of things which can affect the overall condition of your floor. The most important thing here, however, are your own expectations. If you are content with less than perfect results and your floor is not suffering from any extreme negative influences, you can probably sand once in a decade without this leading to serious floor issues. Make no mistake, though, the surface will likely look worn and aged. This is the price for negligence. The real question here is how much do you value good appearance?
Dustless and Dust-Free?
Many flooring companies advertise “dust-free” sanding services. Does such a thing as dust-free sanding even exist or is it simply a marketing strategy?
There are two types of sanding machines – belt sander and drum sander. Belt sanders are without a shadow of a doubt the better and more modern piece of equipment. They offer better result and superior dust collection. However, they are not perfect. The belt sander has a simple cloth bag where most of the sawdust goes. The majority, but not all. It’s enough to say that the person doing the sanding has to wear protective equipment which wouldn’t be truly needed if all the dust went inside the bags. In the end there are very few dust particles released, but they are actually so minor that it is acceptable.
Sanding Is Not Just Sanding
If you never had a previous contact with the flooring industry, you may assume that the contractor just comes in, uses some kind of specialised equipment (with no dust left), applies a coat of finish and leaves. Sounds simple enough, right? That’s not what really happens! Sanding means complete and thorough floor restoration. You cannot get more serious than that and such tasks involve a significant investment of time and money. The typical renovation includes floorboard repair, levelling the subfloor if its surface is uneven, sanding, gap filling the spaces between the boards, buffing, staining and the application of a finish. As you can see, there is a lot going on. Floor restoration Is a complicated work which may require some time to complete, depending on the severity of the issues.
Floor Sanding or Buffing?
The way some flooring companies and product manufacturers present the facts, it seems that if you don’t sand your floor as much as humanly possible it will result in a catastrophe. Sanding is not the only option you have. Buffing, also known as screening is a much cheaper alternative which can help keep floors in good condition with a low investment of resources. It is a process similar to sanding where you use a “buffing” machine to abrade small floor imperfections. While a full floor sanding is the only option for severe surface damage, dents and scratching, those do not happen that often, do they? If you prevent already existing flaws to become more serious, sanding will be a rare necessity, indeed.
So, just how often to buff your floor? Some people do that dutifully every week which is utterly pointless unless the floor in question is suffering commercial amounts of traffic. Others screen and recoat every few months, which is far more reasonable. More often than not, the simplest answer is the best – When you see that the parts of the floor closest to the walls are glossier/shinier than those enduring all the traffic, it means it’s buffing time.
Nails Are Visible. You Have to Replace It!
Sanding is a process which removes the existing worn finish and allows you to replace it with a fresh new one. When the old protection is abraded you also take part of the hardwood on top. This means that eventually you will reach a point where you can no longer sand since the system connecting the boards will be exposed, including the nails. This is especially dangerous for engineered floors where the veneer is very thin compared to solid wood.
However, not every time you see nails means that the floor should be replaced. Sometimes the floor may have been laid badly or the underlay proven to be too weak. This causes the floor to move and push some nails to the top. Some unscrupulous contractors can try to take advantage of this and attempt to convince you your floor is due to replacement. Of course, it is entirely possible and even probable that there is a problem and they are just trying to help you. However, seek further proof for such claims. Nothing prevents you from checking out just how bad is the situation, especially if you are about to spend a considerable amount of money on a new floor with added installation costs!