Over the last week or so we’ve been sharing our flooring updates with you. As you’ve probably already guessed, we did a lot more than we initially let on. Basically we sanded almost all floors in our house in one weekend! It was so much work, with a little bit of disaster along the way…
14:30 I’m off to pick up the floor sanders that I reserved earlier this week. The sanders aren’t ready and I’m told to come back in about 30 minutes.
15:15 I return to hire shop. The sanders were accidentally hired out to someone else, the next sanders will be ready in about an hour. The hire shop guys are really friendly and helpful, but this isn’t a great start.
16:15 Back again. Sanders are ready at last. The lovely hire shop guys carry the big floor sander to the car for me. Off home – again.
16:30 Can finally start with the sanding. Yay! Decided to start work in the dining room. Am so excited and decide to start sanding the edges with 40 grit paper. Initial results are amazing and it’s so satisfying to see the clean and stain free floorboard to appear.
16:45 Sanding is much harder work than it looks. So much harder! Starting to get tired already and have only managed to sand about a metre of the room. This is going to be a very long weekend. I plough on.
18:30 Jan’s home from work. I’ve been struggling on sanding the dining room with the edging sander and am already aching all over. While I’m sanding the edges in the dining room and hallway, Jan makes a start with the large floor sander in the dining room.
22:00 It’s been a long few hours. My back is aching from bending over and my arms are aching from holding the machine. We’ve managed sand about half of the dining room and the edges of the hallway floor.
22:30 Absolutely knackered. After a bit of tidying we fall into a deep sleep.
9:00 Back to sanding. We’ve realized that although the floorboards are in a good condition, they need more sanding than we anticipated.
13:00 We decide Fish & Chips would be a perfect lunch, having been working so hard. Pop out, but the chip shop is on holiday. Uff. Back home for some sandwiches in our very full living room.
14:15 Back to work. So sick of sanding. My left knee is really sore, as I find myself pressing my left elbow against it to be able to hold and steady the really powerful sander so that I’m not thrown across the room. I obviously have to do more weights at the gym. Jan is still sanding the dining room floor.
15:30 Although the initial sanding results we’re amazing and strangely satisfying, we quickly learn that sanding away all of the dirt and stain takes a much longer time as the boards are slightly uneven and bowed. Loads of sanding is required to even out the boards and get to every last bit of varnish and stain.
16:30 Almost finished the initial dining room floor sanding. Now all of the dirt and varnish is gone, we can switch to a finer grit sandpaper and sand everything again. The novelty has well and truly worn off.
18:00 We start sanding the dining room again with an even finer grade sandpaper and also finally make a start on sanding the hallway floor. By now we’ve learned to frequently switch the sandpaper. It makes a huge difference and progress is much quicker.
21:00 Finished the downstairs sanding. Off upstairs to make a start on the landing. Really can’t be bothered anymore.
22: 00 Fed up, aching and tired. Go to bed and fall asleep straight away. What a great Saturday night. We really know how to live the high life, don’t we?
8:30 Up early. Treat ourselves to a break at the gym.
12:00 Back to sanding. Aching even more than before, maybe going to the gym wasn’t a good idea. Still a lot left to do in a day.
15:00 We realise that our neighbours are back from their weekend away. We’d better get a move on as there is still a lot to do and the machines are really noisy. At least we’ve made a start on the guest bedroom.
16:30 The job seems never ending. We’ve definitely taken on much too much for just a weekend. The second bedroom and hallway have now been sanded for the first time with 24 grit paper and we can finally make a start on sanding everything with the 40 and 60 grit papers. Our neighbours are amazing and patient, but it is Sunday evening and we’d better get a move on.
17:00 Almost finished now! All first floor sanding, including the 120 grit last sand is complete. Yay. I start cleaning up the guest bedroom and hallway while Jan carries the really heavy sander down the stairs.
18:00 The very last sand on the ground floor begins. Jan is now using the edging sander and I’m using the big floor sander that Jan just carried down the stairs. It weighs about 40 kg, so three cheers for Jan!
18:10 I plug in the sander to start the final 20 minutes of finishing sanding on the ground floor. The sander doesn’t start up. Slight confusion. I check the socket – all is good. More confusion. I check the cables, but still can’t get the machine to start. Slight panic starts to kick in. Jan the man to the rescue – but even he can’t get the machine to work. We have no idea what went wrong, but just can’t get the machine to start. It’s so annoying. We’re so close to completion and patting ourselves in the back, but we just can’t finish the job.
19:00 Jan finishes sanding the edges with the edging sander and attempt a final tidy for the evening.
7:00 I’m off to the hire shop to return the sanders and confess our little issue. Had been worrying all night that we’d get a huge bill, but the hire shop guys were fantastic and really helpful. As we hadn’t damaged the machine and it was just a machine fault, we weren’t liable. Relief – this could have ended up being a really expensive job. The guys in the hire shop promise to call as soon as another sander is in.
9:30 I receive the call and pick up another large floor sander to finish the job.
10:00 I’m on my own as Jan is at work. Panic. The sander has to be back by 12, but it’s just way too heavy for me to lift out of the car. Only one of our neighbours seems to be home, so I try my luck to see if he can help. The door opens, he’s still in his pyjama…
10:30 After our lovely neighbour gives me a hand, I can finally start giving the floor a final sand. All is good, not much more to do now.
11:30 Finally finish the job and can return the sander (with a little more help of my neighbour).
12:00 Can at last admire our work. Now all we need is to varnish all floors. This has to be the longest DIY weekend ever…
What we learned (& what no one will tell you):
- Every tutorial you read states that you have to sink each and every nail into the floorboards before beginning to sand. Don’t bother. Of course you have to make sure there are no nails protruding out of the surface, but we found it fine to just sand over everything. You have to be really careful though. If you have sparks they can cause the sawdust to catch fire and you could also damage the sandpaper or, even worse, the machine! Definitely something to try at your own risk, but it worked for us!
- We had the floors sanded in the living room and our bedroom. It took our sander guy about 2 hours to do the whole room. We figured that it would maybe take us twice as long – and there are two of us and just one of him. We couldn’t have been more wrong. It took so much longer!
- Start by sanding with a really coarse paper, even if you think that your boards are in a good condition and change your paper frequently. We started sanding with 24 grit, when all of the dirt and varnish was gone, we smoothed over everything with 40 grit and then with 60 grit paper and finally with 120 grit paper.
- Make sure you have plenty of space in your bin. We completely filled ours and emptied our vacuum cleaner 13 times!
- Even if you think your floor doesn’t need it, don’t skip the step with the fine sandpaper. It really does make a difference!
- Don’t underestimate the prep work.
- Sanding is so noisy. Don’t even think about attempting it if you have neighbours that are home. We both wore earplugs the whole time and still ended up with a slight buzzing in our ears.
- Weekend hire floor sander and edge sander (Friday 14:00 – Monday 12:00) – £52.50 (special half price offer)
- Large sanding sheets – £69.60
- Small sanding disks for edging sander – £46.80
- Varnish (we still had some left over from our staircase restoration, so only needed one extra can) – £40.00
- Dust Masks - £4.18
When we had the floor in the living room sanded (about 2 years ago) we paid £250.00 for the one room, so doing two rooms and two hallways for about the same price definitely makes it a job worth doing yourself. The laminate flooring gave everything a cheap feel and our newly sanded floors are so much more in keeping with the style of the house. We still need to finish off the varnishing and sort the skirting boards, but we’re really happy with the result so far.
That’s what happened on our busiest DIY weekend. What were you up to? Have you ever taken on too much work for a weekend? Have you ever sanded your own floors?
*Having been asked a lot of questions about how to sand wooden floors, we’ve put together a long list answering the most frequently asked questions. You can check it out here: Floorsanding FAQ.*