One question we get asked quite a lot here at The Tool Advice website is "Can You Sand Your Own Floors?"
The simple answer is yes you can sand any type of "real wooden floor."
It is not actually that difficult to achieve as long as you have the right tools and the right knowledge. Hopefully, we can help point you in the right direction with both of those prerequisites.
Real Wood vs Laminate Wooden Flooring
There are four main types of hardwood flooring on the UK market:
- Laminate - by far the most popular choice in UK homes. Laminate flooring is a synthetic or man made flooring product with many layers. These layers are fused together by a lamination process. The surface will look like wood but the two final layers are a photographic layer and then a clear protective layer.
- Vinyl - vinyl is a popular floor type and similar in many ways to laminate. You can buy this in many colours and various designs, including ceramic, hardwood, marble and stone.
- Solid - This is made from real hardwood which is quite thick (18-20 mm) and usually fits together using tongue and groove. It varies a lot in price depending on the quality of the wood and its hardness score.
- Engineered hardwood - This is as the name suggests engineered with several layers of wood glued together (3-4) at right angles and covered with a veneer of around 3-4 mm. It isn't ideal for laying stairs or anywhere there is moisture.
You may also have heard of Parquet flooring which is laid in a geometric angular style. Some people call this mosaic flooring. This type of flooring can be made from solid and engineered wood, but mainly parquet flooring is made from solid wood.
The vast majority of homes in the UK will either have what is generally called "real wood," or laminate wooden flooring. Laminate floors are by far the most popular as that type of wood is cheaper than using real hard wood.
So you can sand real woods and floor boards, but you can not sand laminate flooring. You need to be sure what type of wooden floor you have before touching it with a sander of any kind.
So in reality the only type of wooden floor you can safely sand is one that is made from real wood and parquet flooring. Any other type of wooden floor can not be sanded.
That is because they are either a laminate, a vinyl of a veneer covering and a sander would simply remove that top layer and render the floor useless. Most people will know what type of flooring they have.
If you are not sure, then it is better to ask someone with some experience.
Why Sand a Wooden Floor?
Many people jump straight to the sander, and they don't really need to. You only need to sand a floor back to the bare wood if it is in really bad condition. There would need to be deep scratches or areas that are very well worn, before we would take the step of sanding a wooden floor.
Use a Belt Sander
So if the floor is made of real wood and you need to get it back to the bare wood, the best sander to use is a belt sander. Belt sanders are heavy duty and they use a wide belt covered with sandpaper.
That will help you cover the floor area really quickly. We have written an article on the top 5 buyer rated belt sanders, which you can read by clicking here.
You could do this by hand but it would take forever and is not recommended even for a small room. You can buy a belt sander or rent one. They cost around £75-100 on average, and they are a useful tool to have for other sanding jobs.
Renting rates will vary depending on who you use. In addition to this you will need quite a few belts if completely sanding a large floor area.
Dust Collection When Sanding a Floor
When you do just a small amount of sanding there will be a lot of dust. When using a belt sander on a wooden floor, we warn you now, there will be dust everywhere. All belt sanders come with a dust port, and we strongly recommend hooking that up to a vacuum cleaner.
Some belt sanders will come with a dust bag which is useful, but it's a much better idea to use a vacuum to remove the dust. The small dust bag would just fill too quickly.
Leave windows open and wear a dust mask to prevent dust getting into your lungs. Some users will also wear ear protection as sanders can get noisy.