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sanding and sealing floorboards - please help

20 replies

Ellaroo · 05/08/2006 22:59


We have found some rather lovely floorboards beneath our horrible old inherited carpet and want to sand and seal them (I want to do it properly, but at the same time don't mind the shabby chic look - my main concern is that I don't want it to be drafty or a point of access for spiders). So.....wondered if anyone could give me some advice - what sander to buy (a belt sander or the other sort?)? what to use to seal the gaps (which aren't actually too big, so slices of wood won't work as they'd be too large) and what finish to go for - does one oil or varnish????? Any suggestions or tips would be hugely appreciated. Thank you!

OP posts:
frogs · 05/08/2006 23:02

Four words for you: Get A Man In.

It is physically possible to do it yourself, but don't. Just don't. We did three rooms ten years ago, and the memory is still fresh in my mind.

MrsSpoon · 05/08/2006 23:07

We have always got someone in to do the job. We have worked out before that by the time you hire the machine, buy the sandpaper and the correct varnish, then mess about trying to do the job you are not much more money to get someone to do it for you (although I believe this is fairly dependant on the area you live in, we are in Scotland and some of our local floor sanding people travel down to London to work as they can charge so much more down there that it makes it worth it).

However I can help with the drafts and the spiders. We find that they are not so insulating as carpets and if you have drafts already then it is going to be worse (say from a cellar below) but if the space below the floor boards is closed up then the room may be cooler but not drafty, obviously a rug helps. I personally love my stripped floors, we don't have carpet anywhere in this house, two bathrooms and kitchen are tiled and the rest of the house is just the sanded/varnished boards.

As far as varnish goes we had Diamond Glaze put on the floors in this house and found it better wearing than the floor varnish that a different company used in our last place but DH wants to give them a light sand and use yacht varnish on them all. DS1 has yacht varnish on his floor (the previous owners did his room) and we feel it is better wearing.

Katymac · 05/08/2006 23:09

you can knock rope/string between the board (but it's not to everyones taste)

JanH · 05/08/2006 23:13

Similar thread here , Ellaroo

We did it years ago and just coated the boards (ancient Victorian ones) with satin finish clear varnish - it made them go a nice colour.

If yours are proper tongue-and-groove and have never been lifted then little gaps don't matter - the tongues under the gaps (iyswim) keep them sealed from draughts and spiders.

Ellaroo · 06/08/2006 09:07

Thank you so much for all your advice. Unfortunately 'getting a man in' is not possible (have run out of money now, as have spent it all on getting 'men in' to do other bits of faire du bricolage!!! ). So, on the basis that we are doing this ourselves can we get one of those sanders that cost about £30 from Argos, rather than hiring a great beast that you push around the room? (I wouldn't consider this if the boards needed anything other than a light sanding, but they really do look to be in excellent condition).

OP posts:
Kelly1978 · 06/08/2006 09:09

Personally I wouldn't leave even little gaps. We had a flat with lovely original floorboards, that had been sealed but not very well in places. We had a realy problem with food getting stuck in the gaps and then a bad mice problem!

Ellaroo · 06/08/2006 09:17

Poor you. Fortunately this is a living room (and am very anal so all food consumption is done in the dining room ). However, feeling that the scampering ones are only an thin crack away doesn't appeal. What did you fill them with?

OP posts:
Kelly1978 · 06/08/2006 09:20

we didn't, we jsut killed the mice! They had been done before we moved in and appeared to have been filled with some sort of wood filler. It was brown to match the floors. Because the flooring was a bit creaky and wobbled a bit, pieces of it worked themselves out again and cracked.

Kelly1978 · 06/08/2006 09:20

the floorboards had been done, not the mice!

Ellaroo · 06/08/2006 12:31

Bump...any opinions before I got and buy a £25 one from B&Q?

OP posts:
bubblerock · 06/08/2006 12:44

When you sand it collect the dust and mix it with wood glue - use this to fill the small gaps in the wood.

SecurMummy · 06/08/2006 12:51

sand dust and wood glue to fill.

IMO doing with a small sander is hell on earth - htat is how I did mine and it took forever! Dust everywhere (behind the eyes, in the ears ) back breaking, sore knees....

can you tell I didn't enjoy the experience!

Whatever you end up doing, buy a GOOD varnish and use the maximum coats as it needs to last - you may not want to do this again in a hurry

Ellaroo · 06/08/2006 14:54

Do you have to varnish? - is there a reason why no-one uses finishing oil?

OP posts:
Faith8 · 06/08/2006 15:19

Hi Ellaroo, I too am about to attempt to sand the floorboards in my daughter's bedroom. Just had the house renovated and now have 7 rooms to redecorate - all on a budget. I have borrowed a hand belt sander and basically need to know how much pressure do I need to use - as not to damage the thing. Also, how do I change the sanding sheet? Any advice greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Ellaroo · 06/08/2006 15:52

Faith8 - not able to give too much advice (but have used a hand sander years ago and seem to remember amount of pressure to apply becomes obvious - it seems that the way you gouge bits out of the floor comes with using one of the industrial types of sander). What are you using to fill the gaps (although I suppose this matters less in the upstairs rooms)?

OP posts:
Faith8 · 06/08/2006 16:16

I think I'll try the sand dust and wood glue idea.

SecurMummy · 06/08/2006 16:30

It is the industrial ones that do damage, anything the hand ones do can be easily sanded back out, the pressure thing, I suspect with a hand sander you can't really apply too much, however it does become clear quite quickly once you start to use them.

Contrary to popular belief, floorboards mark really easily, especially the ones you usually get in a house. I wouldn't use an oil unless it was for a really low wear area like a bedroom - and then I would insist on everyone wearing soft slippers on it!

Even childrens toys can cause damage really easily, chairs being moved, sofas moving as you sit down etc etc.

mrsdarcy · 09/08/2006 20:41

if you have access to the space beneath the floor, you can staple insulation sheets (the sort you use for laminate floors, apparently) to the underside of the floorboards.

Faith8 · 10/08/2006 09:53

Thanks for that.

MaloryFascinatorTowers · 10/08/2006 09:56

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Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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