Anyone with hardwood flooring knows that they sometimes require a bit of sanding to make them look great again. Tackling a wood floor refinishing project yourself is a big decision so before making up your mind between tackling the job yourself or hiring a professional you should read the content below first. It might just give you the insights you need to make the best decision for you.
If you are an old hand at do-it-yourself projects and have worked with wood before then the tricks and skills required to sand down your hardwood floor might be fun for you to learn and try out. It is an advantage that you can do the job at the times that suit you best and you might even save money if all goes to plan. However, if things do not go to plan and you are not properly prepared and capable, the damage you can cause to your floors might cost you a lot more to repair. The project will take longer to complete than getting an expert team.
There are things to consider in your choice between doing it yourself or hiring professional flooring contractors such as your own capability and skills level related to the difficulty level of what needs to be done. Also, the amount of your time you will have to invest and if you have the time spare and want to dedicate your spare time to this monotonous task, and of course the costs.
The costs need to include the specialized tools you might need to acquire if you do not have them already, the materials you will require, and what it might cost to learn the skills required. You also need to assess how much you enjoy doing home repairs and how handy you are with repair jobs. This is a very big task that requires a lot of hard physical work and will take time. There is no real room for errors when it comes to your floors as you might ruin them to the point of needing to replace them.
Hiring a Professional for the Project
In the industry it takes around 2 years for a professional to refine their skills as sanding is a very difficult skill to learn. You can instantly see the difference in skill level between a professional and amateur job. The results from a professional sanding job will look much better and feel much smoother.
Professional teams also have specialized equipment and nothing you can rent at Home Depot or other places can compare. They can even produce dustless results with their machines. There is no real contest when it comes to this aspect. The main professional machine costs around $20,000 which is far more than the average person would want to invest. Professional companies also maintain and use these machines efficiently as they make their living from them.
Rental machines are not industrial grade and will not deliver the same results. Even a well experienced persona cannot achieve the same results with these inferior machines. Besides the better quality and results of the main machines there is also the complication of the amount of equipment you will need. It takes five different machines to complete the sanding of wooden floors.
Often when novices sand floors they do not do a very proper job. This leaves the floor looking uneven and blotchy as the top layer removed during the sanding was not equal. The polyurethane therefore does not adhere properly and will often peel off with time. You will see dips in the floor and chatter marks. These dips will be difficult to get out and these botched hardwood floor refinishing jobs will have to be completely redone.
With uneven sanding the stain does not soak into equal depths properly and the polyurethane will not bond properly to the wood. This means that the finish will not last very long and will have to be redone within 2 to 4 years instead of the normal 7 to 10 years lifespan. You will have to live with a poorly looking floor and spend more money to get them redone a lot sooner than normal. Any money you might have saved by doing the floor yourself will end up being spent along with a lot more.
Professional sanders are much more adept at this kind of work as they do it very often. They can work fast and know all the tips and tricks to take care of any eventuality. They also have the proper specialized and powerful machinery that they are experts at using. This means that most crews can sand and refinish around 1,000 square feet per day. It will take you at least 2 to 4 times longer to do the same job and it will look far less professional. You will also be charged per day for any machinery you rent and take up a lot of your spare time. It will take a long time before you will be able to use your floors if you do it yourself.
Most common sanding mistakes made during do-it-yourself projects
- Not sanding properly – This is the most common issue by far and is evident in most DIY jobs. The most common occurrence is that the pressure applied is not consistent meaning it is harder than it should be in some areas and not hard enough in other areas. Some people also sand down too much of the top layers and greatly reduce the thickness and life of their floors. Areas that are sanded too deep will cause a permanent dip in the floor. Further machine sanding by professionals will follow the contours and height of the floor and will take off a consistent top layer, which means that the dip will remain.
- Not using proper grits – The sanding grit needs to be carefully selected based on the brand, type and age of flooring to be sanded. Not many people know the proper grits to use and they also do not know that you need to sand the floor three times with three different types of grit. Using only two grits will not be sufficient even if you use a grit that is finer than the last grit used. You can’t take short cuts with this process.
- Using inferior stains and polyurethanes – Not using the right and best materials will result in the drying process taking much longer. If the coats have not been consistently applied at the correct level of thickness it might cause a bubble effect and take very long to dry.
- Not allowing proper drying times between coats – If you do not wait long enough before applying the next coat of stain or poly the stain will coagulate and wrinkle and you will have to start again by sanding off the layer looking like alligator skin. Professionals know the proper drying times and exactly how to test the stain and poly to ensure that it is dry.
- Not using an edger properly – This is a very common issue. Most inexperienced people do not know how to use the edger properly and very often miss the edges completely. They also have no idea how to blend the edge in with the rest of the floor. This created sanding issues around the outer 1-foot perimeter with blotchy stain. The only way to fix this is to start the whole process from the beginning.
- Not vacuuming fully and leaving dust behind – This seems like a fairly simple process but this is most often where people go wrong. If the dust is not left to settle and removed properly, particles are left behind. These then get embedded within the poly while the coats are applied. Dust also needs to be removed between coatings. If you find this issue occurring during the application of the top coat you can save it by doing a screen and applying a recoat. This will add on another day to your project and you will require more poly. If the dust particles are in the coats below the top coat, you can only remove it with sanding and starting over.
- Not stirring poly properly – It sounds simple but this is a common issue. The poly needs to be thoroughly mixed but be careful not to create air bubbles in the process.
If this will be your first time tackling a hardwood floor refinishing project you might be better off contracting a professional wooden floor refinishing contractor to do it instead. They will provide consistent sanding and professional refinishing to make your floors look better and last a lot longer. Contractor teams will finish the job a lot quicker than you can so you can move into your home a lot quicker. Letting someone else take care of the floor means you can focus on the other things to be done in your new home like the painting, cleaning and moving. Your time is valuable and can be spent on more valued things and is well worth the extra money you might need to pay for professional services.