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FAQ about Sanding and Polishing your floor

Sand Polishing

Perhaps you’re somebody who loves self-sufficiency and DIY projects. Or maybe you’re somebody who likes to hire somebody and leave them the headache of maintaining your floors to spotless perfection. Whatever may be the case, having some knowledge handy will only make the selection of tools and techniques slightly easier for you. So, here we are, answering the most frequently asked questions about sanding and polishing your floor in Melbourne.

Is sanding the same as polishing?

No, sanding and polishing are not the same. Sanding is the process of stripping a thin layer of your hardwood flooring to get rid of any cracks, scratches and imperfections. Sanding reveals a fresh layer of timber underneath all the existing damage.

On the other hand, polishing is the process of finishing your timber floorings with a layer of polish. This ‘topcoat’ not only refreshes the timber flooring but also protects the flooring from any minor scarring.

Depending on the current condition of your flooring, you can opt for sanding, polishing or using a combination of both to revive your floors. Here are a few combinations you might want to look at to just get a gist of what we’re talking about:

Gentle Cleaning and Polishing

If you’re just looking to finish your fairly new hardwood floors, you can clean and polish them. The process starts with applying a gentle cleanser specially designed for hardwood flooring. Afterwards, once the floor is dry, it is finished with a suitable polish. These polishes come in varying looks, such as matte, glossy and satin. For example, water-based polyurethane is a very long-lasting and durable finish.

Light sanding and polishing

Now, if your floors need a little pick-me-up through gentle scuffing of the damages, you could lightly sand and polish them. Light sanding will get most scratches, stains and mild levels of wear and tear. Light sanding or ‘buffing’ can get rid of previous polishes and coats, after which you can apply a fresh topcoat of your choice.

Staining and polishing

If you’re interested in giving your floors a brand new look, you could consider staining them. Staining the floor makes it look like you’ve installed a completely new floor. Even though you didn’t go through the time-consuming process or spend the hefty bucks! Staining provides a new natural colour to your timber flooring, often followed by a polish to protect it from weathering.

Repair, sand and polish

Repairing, followed by sanding and polishing, is something we’d recommend if you’re hardwood floors are a complete mess. That means they’re damaged with dents, cracks, and swollen with water damage). We also wouldn’t recommend doing them yourself if they’re in such a state. Instead, call in a professional who might replace some irreparable floorboards with entirely new ones. The professional will then proceed to sand the new floorboards alongside the old ones. Lastly, a polish or stain can be applied that’ll make your flooring look speckles as well as uniform.

Can I sand and polish my own floors?

Yes, you absolutely can! Sanding and polishing your floors isn’t a matter of expertise. The more important question to ask yourself here is, ‘Can you give your floors the time and physical labour that is required?

Sanding and polishing your own floors will require some tools such as a large drum sander, an edging sander and lots of sandpaper. But most importantly, it’s going to need lots of motivation!

How long does it take to sand and polish floors?

The entire process of sanding and polishing your floors can take up to 3 days. However, the time depends on how much area you are covering and your speed. Sometimes, the weather can also play a huge role, as it’ll determine how fast or slow your floor will take to dry up after each interval of the process.

How often should you polish floorboards?

How often one should get their floorboards cleaned and polished totally depends on how much grit, damage and dirt they endure every single day. For floors that aren’t exposed to too much traffic daily, once a year should be good enough. Suppose you’d like to be extra precautionary, as polish protects your floors from damage and over-cleaning. In that case, you could get them polished twice a year.

If your floors endure tons of traffic or dust throughout the year, you could go for cleaning and polishing every 3-4 months.

What tools to use for sanding and polishing?

You’ll only need some basic things, they are:

  • A nail punch: To make sure your floor is clear of any nails popping up, use the nail punch to knock every nail about 2mm beneath the surface.
  • High-quality dust masks: Inhaling sawdust can be detrimental to your lungs and overall health.
  • Ear muffs or ear plugs: Again, the noise and dust are not good for you.
  • A vacuum cleaner: It’ll be useful for removing the sawdust after sanding every now and then.
  • A drum sander: It is a powerful machine that sands wood and allows you to replace abrasive sanding paper every now and then.
  • An edge sander: An edge sander allows you to get close to the edges, which a drum sander will miss.
  • Sanding sheets and disks: Get sheets of 24, 40, 80 and 120 grit paper.
  • You’ll need lots of these for use on the machines. Don’t underestimate how much you’ll need and buy excess. Remember you can always return the extras but running in the middle of the job is an inconvenience we don’t wish upon you!
  • A foam applicator: For polishing your floors after they have been sanded down.

Why do I need varying grits of sandpaper?

A lower number of grit sandpaper is coarser. It cuts down the unwanted surface layer much faster than a higher number of finer sandpaper. However, the coarser grit paper leaves scratches and blemishes. At the same time, a higher number of grit paper leaves the wooden surface smoother.

Essentially, you’d want to start with a lower number of grit paper to remove the damaged layer more efficiently. Afterwards, you can move on to the more delicate and finer grit paper to level and flatten the surface.

If you switch to a higher number of grit paper sooner, it’ll take you much longer to get through to the damage in your surface.

Why do I need varying grits of sandpaper?

If you choose a matte finish, it’ll look great the first few days but turn dull rather quickly. If you choose a higher gloss finish, though, it’ll highlight any imperfections still apparent on your floorboards. That’s why we recommend you get something in the middle, like a satin finish.

Nonetheless, as you know the condition of your floorboards best, the decision is yours to make.

How to polish hardwood floors?

Polishing your floor is fairly easy. There’s no need to apply any kind of pressure or work the polish into your floorboards. Gentle hands will do the best job; just follow the steps below.

Make sure your floor is ready, all cleaned, mopped and dried. All furniture should also be out of the way.

One 32oz bottle will cover approximately 500sq ft. of area. Buy bottles accordingly.

Move the bottle side to side (no aggressive shaking) for about a minute.

Apply a layer of polish on your floor using a foam applicator you’ll find at any hardware store.

Don’t apply any pressure on the applicator you’ll be using. Work in small sections from one corner to the other, and don’t forget you will need to get out of your position without stepping on the wet polish. So do not trap yourself in a corner!

That’s it, now allow your floor to dry. The polish will dry quickly, about 15 to 20 minutes. Although for the safer side, keep away from it for an hour.


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FAQ about Sanding and Polishing your floor
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