Sanding And Refinishing A Hardwood Floor - Buffer Mistakes To Avoid

If your wood floor has seen better days, then the finish is likely worn away and dings can be seen. A polyurethane sealer or an oil-based stain cannot simply be applied to the floor to repair it. You will need to remove the old sealer, sand down the wood to a smooth finish, wash the floor, and then add the finishing material. This process can take some time and elbow grease, but it is a fairly easy task if you are not afraid of some hard work. You will need to use either a drum sander or a buffer to complete the sanding work. If you decide to use a buffer, then keep reading to learn about some mistakes you should try to avoid.

Mistake - Forgetting To Remove Nails

If you do not need to do a lot of sanding across the wooden floor or if you do not want to use a powerful machine, then a buffer is a great tool. Rent or purchase an electric or battery powered model from your local home store. You will likely need to remove the old floor finish as well as marks in the wood. A tool with a fairly aggressive cut will be needed for this. The cut of the machine refers to the intensity that the pad moves across the floor with. The easiest way to intensify the cut is to hold the handle of the buffer at waist level or a bit higher. This means the buffer deck should be relatively close to your feet.

You will need to fit a sanding disc on the buffer to work through the finish and the top layer of wood. This pad will be much like a piece of sandpaper. The carbide grit will sit on one side and the other side will be fitted with a piece of paper. Since the sanding disc is relatively thin, you will need to secure the disc to a backing pad or a back up pad. This pad will attach to the deck through a small rod. 

Unfortunately, both the sanding disc and the backing pad can be destroyed fairly easily if they are moved over a nail. The buffer will also jerk when this happens and may cause an injury. You can easily prevent this issue by removing any elevated nails before you begin sanding. Start at one corner of the floor and slowly move your hand across it. When you feel a nail protruding from the floor, use the claw end of your hammer or a pair of pliers to remove it. Do not worry about the nails that sit flush. These nails can be sanded down. The ones that can catch the sanding pad are the real issue.

Mistake - Not Cleaning Between Sanding Sessions

You may need to sand across the floor several times to fully remove dents and dings. It is wise to remove one small layer of wood at a time to make sure the floor remains as level as possible. You will need to remove and replace sanding discs as you work. Typically, the buffer will be more difficult to push when the pad needs to be replaced. 

Once you make a complete pass across the floor, you will notice a good deal of sawdust left behind. If you leave the sawdust and debris on the floor, it can build a layer on the floor. This prevents the buffer pad from reaching the bare wood. This will keep the machine from sanding the surface, and you will need to sand again anyhow. Also, if the sanding pad moves quickly over the sawdust, the pieces of wood may imbed themselves in the sanding disc and you will need to replace it again.

Use a vacuum cleaner after each pass of the buffer across the floor. A wet and dry vacuum can be used for easy removal. You may also want to invest in a canister vacuum with filters instead of a shop vacuum. This way, small bits of dust can be collected so your buffer can reach more of the bare floor.

For more information or for help with the project, contact a local flooring company like Cooper Floors


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