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How to sand a parquet floor

If a parquet floor looks worn or is scratched, there is no need to replace it, as floor sanding can restore the floor to a nearly new condition.

Floor sanding is a skilled job but can be done yourself as long as it is done right. If you have any doubts about your abilities, hire a professional sanding company. A poorly sanded floor can be repaired by a professional floor restorer, but this can be costly.

Which is the best direction to sand?

With wood planks, sanding is done along the grain, but this is not practical for parquet flooring in a herringbone pattern as they are laid diagonally. If you sand diagonally, you are following the grain on one half of the blocks and going against the grain with the other half. This means that half of the blocks will be sanded deeper than the other half, resulting in an uneven floor.

The recommended way is to sand the floor straight. Parquet blocks vary in density which means that sanding will never result in a perfectly flat floor, but sanding the floor straight will get it as smooth and flat as possible, which is acceptable.

First, sand straight along the length of the floor, then sand across the width. The sander may leave marks across the floor or leave ridges, by sanding lengthways then across, any ridges will be sanded out.

There are three stages to floor sanding: rough, medium and fine. To achieve the best result, use 36-grade grit sanding lengthways, followed by 50g across, lengthways at 80g, across at 200g and finally use 120g lengthways.

There are no fixed rules on sanding. Some people use rough and medium sanding straight and across, then finish by fine sanding diagonally. If you are sanding yourself, find what works best for your floor.

In tight spaces, you may not be able to change direction. The recommended way to do this is, after the lengthways run, to do the next one 22.5 degrees from the straight. This does not have to be an exact angle; judging by the eye is good enough.

Always wear a face mask when sanding so that you don’t inhale any wood dust.

What equipment should you hire?

If you are sanding the floor yourself, you could sand it by hand, but this is a painfully slow and laborious process and it is difficult to sand evenly. Sanding attachments on drills will sand the floor, but this can also result in an uneven floor. It is best to use a professional floor sanding machine.

A parquet floor is expensive but will last a long time if sanded when worn. You want the floor to look nearly new when sanded, and not uneven. This is why you need to use the best equipment. Good floor sanders cost a lot but can be hired at reasonable rates.

Total Floor Care, a floor sanding equipment supplier, says:

“A good quality finish to your floor can only be achieved by using good quality equipment. The typical conventional drum sander that is available from most hire shops is not going to give you the best chance to sand your floor well.”

Premium quality floor sanders have continuous belts, extract dust as they sand and have adjustable drum pressure. The drum can be raised and lowered using a clutch mechanism controlled from handlebars. This eases the drum onto the floor without it crashing down and causing damage.

A good sander should be easy to move, requiring little strength. It should not be difficult to push and steer.

A floor sander may not be able to reach the very edge of the floor. For this, you need an edge sander. For tight corners use a corner sander.

Your equipment hirer should be able to supply all these sanders and the various grades of sander belts or disks that they use. They should also stock a sheepskin applicator for finishing the floor.

What should I do after sanding?

After the parquet floor has been sanded it needs to be sealed. A finish protects the floor and enhances its look.

Polyurethane wood finish is oil or water-based. It darkens the wood, though some water-based varieties only slightly darken the floor.

Varnish is a traditional wood finish creating a matt or glossy look. High gloss varnish tends to make the wood more durable. Varnished parquet floors will probably darken with age.

A penetrating sealer gives a natural-looking finish, though the floor may darken after a while. It is less durable than varnish or polyurethane but can be waxed.

You can also apply a stain finish to change the colour of the floor.

It is best to seal the floor as soon after sanding as possible. An unsealed parquet floor can absorb moisture. Apply the sealant with a sheepskin applicator. Make sure that the floor is evenly covered, but don’t use too much sealant. Wood can only absorb so much sealant, after which the excess forms surface pools.

Some experts recommend buffing the floor with fine steel wool before sealing, then vacuum and wipe the floor. Apply three coats of finish, making sure that the sealant dries between coats. Leave for two hours after applying the final coat before moving furniture and rugs back into the room.

Is it worth sanding parquet floors?

Sanding and finishing a parquet floor is not an easy or quick job, but it is well worth it. A parquet floor will last a long time provided it is cared for. The floor needs to be regularly cleaned and refinished by sanding when it looks worn. The woodblocks on a good quality parquet floor are thick enough to be sanded several times.

If you are selling your Cheshire or Wirral home, sand the parquet floors and refinish them to look like new. This will add value to the home and make it more attractive and easier to sell. The added value could be more than the cost of using a professional floor sanding company, who will make sure that the floor looks as good as possible.

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