I'm interested in taking up the carpet and having bare floorboards in our bedroom. I tried pulling up the corner and the boards themselves seem to be in good shape, but DH hates the colour of them (stained / varnished a dark brown). If I were to - ahem - do a little investigation of floorboards while he is off on a business trip, what would I need to do? e.g. can I take a small sander to them to get an idea of how they might look?
Yes a small sander would work fine to test the colour. You need to start off with a coarse paper on the sander and then use a finer one to finish off, just as a test piece then two grades should be fine but if you're doing the whole floor then you need to use at least 3 grades to get a decent finish (depends partly on how much stain/gunk there is on there). I expect you will want to put some sort of finish on them so that they are more hardwearing so I would test out some of that as well once you've done the sanding. When I did our living room (my "little investigation" involved removing all the laminate that the last owners had put down, dh was not pleased when he came home but likes it now ) I used this www.ronseal.co.uk/products/product.jsp?id=55 which IMO gives a nicer, more natural finish than varnish and you can spill stuff on it and it wipes off easily without soaking in. If you're going to do te whole room definitely, IME, worth hiring a big floor sander (with a smaller one for the edges) and it is still quite hard work and very messy but definately worth it!
I'd go with a big sander too. God it's a horrid job though - and if you don't smash ALL the nails down and the sandpaper hits them it sounds like a gun going bang....scared the living daylights out of me [wimp emoticon] Oh and the dust.....the dust!!
Just a word of warning (killjoy person!) have you got big gaps between them? Only that having done this several times and lived with it - I find it's hard to fill them and look nice AND stop dust etc going in the gaps and eventually turning black. Solved the problem in last flat by painting the boards black!
Personally, I'd lay boards on top - but that's just me - got lazy in my old age
It isnt too difficult when you get going. If you hire a sander, and set a weekend aside to sand and varnish. If the floorboards look to be of good quality then you can probably expect a good result, any stain or varnish should come off, and even if you hate it, just put the carpet doen again. I love having floorboards, to me it sems a lot 'cleaner' than carpets.