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Updated August 29, 2012, 2:58 pm betterhomesgardens
Be sure to take a few important steps before you paint and stain a timber floor.
Before sanding the floor, carefully inspect the entire floor surface for any protruding nail heads or tacks. Also look for obvious splits on the edges of the floorboards. If you do not remove these hazards before you begin work you could injure yourself or damage the sanding machine.
Nail down loose boards and knock in protruding nail heads with a nail punch and hammer. Remove any protruding objects with pliers or a claw hammer.
If the floor has an existing wax coating you will have to remove it before sanding or the coating will clog the abrasive paper. Use a commercial wax stripper for the task, rinse the floor clean and allow it to dry. Always follow the instructions on the container.
If there is an existing opaque paint coating on the floor and you want to apply a clear finish, you will have to remove the paint. This can be achieved by three different methods: heat gun, liquid paint stripper or sanding. Whichever method you choose, make sure there is good ventilation in the room. Deep sanding is the best way to remove a stained finish.Sanding
Floorboards that are to receive a clear finish will need a thorough sanding to achieve the best result. If the floor has an existing clear finish and you are going to re-coat it, then a light sand is all that is needed. Clean away the dust and apply the new coat.
New timber boards will require a little more work before you can apply a clear coating. When new tongue-and-groove floorboards are laid, there can be a tendency for the joints to 'sit up' (see the diagram above) and you will need to make the floor smooth and level.
Use an upright power sanding machine to do the job. This will be much quicker than using a small electric hand sander. Upright machines can be hired and the hire store will advise you how to operate them and fit the abrasive paper. They have dust collection attachments, but dust will still escape. Be sure to wear a dust mask. Hand sanders are used for edges and corners. Do these with the appropriate abrasive paper after each stage with the upright sander. You may need to use a scraper for tight corners.1. Remove the furniture from the room and seal doors into other parts of the house to contain the dust. Open all windows.
3. Change the paper to medium and sand in the direction of the boards and then use fine paper. Vacuum up all the wood dust.Bleaching a floor
If you want to lighten the colour of the sanded floor you can bleach it. Ordinary domestic bleach, scrubbed in and rinsed off with clean water, will do a lot to lighten a floor. You can also purchase stronger chemical bleaches, which are applied in stages. These should be used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. Take care, as the concentrated fumes can be dangerous. Wear a protective mask and open all doors and windows to ensure good ventilation.Repairing faults
After sanding, fill any knot holes, cracks or nail holes. First apply a thin coat of clear or sanding sealer around the defect so that the dye or tint colour in the filling compound will not spread further than the hole or crack it was meant for. Then apply the stopping (filling) compound with a filling or putty knife to obtain a firm, flat finish to the hole.
Take care when choosing the colour of the filler compound. Proprietary compounds come in a range of colours to match specific timber types. Timber has a natural variation in colour, so it may be necessary to use several colours to disguise the surface imperfections. Try out the filler first on a piece of matching floorboard.Common filling materials are:
- Leave the filler to dry, then sand with abrasive paper around a cork block so the floor is flat and smooth.
Source: Staining & Painting Floors, Murdoch Books
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