Apologies - Sanding Floorboards Again!

Hello all,
basic question is Do it myself or get in the professionals.
Have done reasearch on the web and friends and family and really get a mixed response from 'yeah it is easy' to 'no way I tried it once and just can't be bothered with the hassle get the professionals in mate'
We recently bought a victorian property, want to sand the front room boards approx 4 meter by 3.2 metre room and dining room approx 4metre by 3 metre(front room is priority)
Various professionals to do our front room are charging from around 350 to 450 to sand, varnish and then an extra 50 to 150 to stain.
Live in SW London way (Sunbury) and found a sand hiring company called Floor Sander Hire . com (website surprisingly is www.floorsanderhire.com)anyone have experience of using these guys
I reckon to hire the sander and edger plus mask, varnish etc would cost me around the 200 mark for the weekend (including VAT)
I have to admit I am DIY incompetent, I am not stupid but have a natural lack of ability at these things.
So given the facts above I wondered if anyone could advise me.
I realise I could potentially sand two rooms in that weekend saving more money, although things could go wrong and I don't even complete the first room (remember I am a first timer at this)
We are worried we may muck up the staining bit if we do it ourselves, so advice round this area would be appreciated as well.
Not asking for instructions (although any are gratefully recieved) more any useful tips, useful companies, knowledge from experience or advice really
Thanks in advance
Kieren
PS Sorry should have said that money is an issue for us, many many projects for the house, very limited cash to do it, hence the dilema. If it was around 350 for the whole sheebang I probably would go for professionals but the figures quoted make me think
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<snip>
What sort of condition is the floor in? How uneven is it? Do you want it absolutely flat, or will the odd bump not be a problem...
At the low end, you could try a drum sander attachment for a drill, with a few sanding bands.
This worked well for the small bit of floor I needed to do.
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Hi Kieren
We have a old Victorian property and recently sandered the kitchen.
We borrowed a hire sander (friend works in the shop!!) only had to pay for the sandpaper thingies (45).
To be honest we would never do this again. The dust was unbelievable, masks on ok but not a nice environment, then some of the old nails must of been sticking up and it knackered the sandpaper sheets. Also the floorboards where a little curved so to go across the length was difficult, we ended up going the wrong way and made the grain look funny.
We plan to cover it with some vinyl as it looks quite poor.
I would pay the extra 200 and get someone in to do it if I was going to do it again.
Phil
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I've done it, it isn't terribly difficult, not in the same league as plastering or brick-laying. Only you can judge what you're capable of so I can't promise you can breeze through it or do a good job. It certainly wasn't at the top of my 'difficult jobs' list, but it was tedious and finicketty. I didn't spend 200 on doing my dining room, certainly not on hiring the belt sander and the disc sander, but the cost varies with how much sandpaper you use. I think it cost me just over 100 overall.
Anyway, if you do do it allocate the entire weekend, you may be able to pick the sanders up on the friday evening. It is terribly dusty. You need to have all preparation done in advance, that is, carpets and underlay up, grippers up, staples removed, any protruding or proud nails or tacks either banged in or removed ( they will chew up your sanding belt if they are proud ), in fact, since you may remove

make sure all nails in these areas are that far down. You may want to fill the nail holes with filler if you want a really perfect job, but don't worry too much, a little character is better ( and easier ) than perfection. You may also need to regap the boards if the gaps are too large or irregular, if you are bothered. That would involve pulling up some or all floorboards, not easy and potentially damaging. I pulled up two and inserted card shims in the gaps and relaid them, the shims forced the gaps to be fairly regular in width.
So, you've taken care of all this, and removed the furniture and curtains and put dust covers on anything that's left. You're ready to go. Get your belt and disc sander and sandpaper sheets ( and probably you'll get a 110V transformer too ). Start sanding the floor with the belt sander and the coarse grade paper ( I'm assuming your floor is fairly beaten up, cupped boards etc, and you want it flat and unmarked - there is no reason you can't leave it that way if you want, instant character, but I'm taking the worst case ). Sand at +/- 45 degrees to the boards. Do the corners and edges with the disc sander: try not to tilt it too far and get crescent shaped grooves cut in the floor!. If your floor has black gunk on it around the edges, it will clog up the sandpaper badly, consider removing most of it with paintstripper ahead of time.
When you're satisfied you've done all you can with the coarse grade, go to a finer grade. When the floor is level you can sand along the floorboards instead of at 45 degrees. Keep sanding with finer grades 'til you have your desired finish. Keep the disc sander away from central heating pipes, it will slice them. Get in the corners and really awkward bits with a detail sander.
When you're done and cleaned up properly, varnish as directed or apply Danish oil or whatever your finish of choice is. I advise using a clear quick-dry floor varnish ( if you're going down the varnish route ), but if you want a coloured finish stain the boards first ( practise at getting an even stain on some scrap wood frst ). Coloured varnish shows up a chip quite noticeably. Write your weekend off!
Andy
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On 24 Nov 2004 13:17:12 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@ukgateway.net (Kieren) wrote:

Absolutely. The sand and finish is the easy bit - the real variable is the condition of the floor beforehand.
Don't quote with the carpets still down, or before assessing rot.
What are the boards made of ? Nice flat softwood is good. Random garbage isn't. You don't want to start sanding to find out that some of the floor is chipboard !
Downstairs ? Got any rot problems ? Need to replace any boards ?
Is there a big concrete hearth base poking out ? What are you goig to do about that ?
'30's house ? Does the lounge have the usual painted bituminous border around a clear central space where a large non-fitted rug would be placed ? That gooey stuff is a nightmare to sand !
Are the boards flat and evenly nailed down ?
Any past damage from careless C/H installers or sparkies ?
What are the gaps like ? How are you going to fill those ?
What are the edges like ? Big rooms are OK - sanding the area is quick, it's doing the edge length that eats up time.
What are the skirting boards like ? Any to be replaced soon ?
What are you finishing it with ? There's only one real answer - three coats of Rustin's floorcoat. Dead quick, but it stinks when it's curing (full-face mask and open windows job).
How's your time ? Can you spend time punching the nails down first, do the sanding (hire clock running) in a hurry, then take your time over the finishing? Can you _really_ live without walking on that floor for two days ? If you have a baby, it's time to go visit granny for a few days.
On the whole though, go for it. It _is_ easy. Just mask up well, ear defenders (real ones - Peltor fat domes) and inflatable anti-vibration gloves too (try Arco). Expect for it to go wrong too and suddenly take two days longer than expected, with or without needing extra sander hire time.
Friends of mine have just had a 2K quote for sanding....
Mind you, I once did a floor for some other friends. Did two rooms in a weekend, from estate agent key pick-up on Friday to removal van appearing on the Monday. Even had to swap out floorboards in a hurry because of unexpected rot. Took two years (!) before they even paid me back for the hire charges. 8-(
--
Smert' spamionam

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Andy Dingley wrote:

I've never seen (or heard of) those gloves. Are they easy to find? How expensive are they?
Sheila
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On Thu, 25 Nov 2004 09:33:10 -0500, S Viemeister

They're rare, impossible to find and expensive. They're also not very good. My search continues for anti-vibration gloves that really work. having suffered RSI problems a couple of years ago, I'm rather sensitive to this.
Air gloves are 50 quid. Gel gloves are 20. Cycling shops do cheaper gel gloves that work pretty well (if not better) but only protect palms, not fingers. Air gloves are better at protecting from vibration, but you lose most finger control. I've also seen home-made air gloves from nested vinyl gloves and gaffer tape, but they took an assistant to put on and inflate.
I'd point you to a web URL, but Arco have switched to using that BroadVision rubbish, so I can't. Try this - look under "specialist hand protection"
http://www.arco.co.uk/cgi-bin/arcobvp.dll/Arco/controller?event=hierarchy&BV_SessionID=@@@@0892141888.1101434566@@@@&BV_EngineID ccadddehdimiicflgcefkdfggdfoo.0&open=Gloves&reset=on
--
Smert' spamionam

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Andy Dingley wrote:

Thanks - I'll look into it.
Sheila
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I found it relatively easy in terms of skill, but hard physical work. I managed to do almost the entire house before I broke a sheet of the coarse stuff. The real skill is in moving the machine forward whilst lowering so that you start sanding near the beginning of the run without leaving an indent (or even breaking the sheet). Always sand at 45 degrees to the boards. Get everything flat with the coarsest grain before moving up the grades. NEVER stop the machine in contact with the boards, especially on coarse grain. Always still be moving when lowering or raising the machine. Use the sandpaper until it really stops working, or a large bit of grit is gauging out the boards. Buy loads of paper on sale or return, the hire shop will be closed on Sunday.
Also, there is much more work if the house has the Victorian black muck on it. Boards that are just a bit old, grey and manky are an absolute delight compared to that black muck, which clogs the paper. However, there are various tricks to removing it. Firstly, there are ways of unclogging the paper if it has plenty of abrasive, but is contaminated. Secondly, you can use the edge rotary sander using a "flicking" action. Rather than have it flat on the floor, swing it from side to side, only making contact with the edge at the bottom of your arc. The black filth then picks itself up and throws itself across the room as dust, rather than liquifying onto the disc.
Don't skimp on the varnish. If using varnish (and I did, as I have children), use a top quality type with "diamond" in the name. Ronseal Diamond Hard, or the Dulux equivalent. Close your eyes when looking at the price tag. I got best results by rollering it on and then brushing it out. Do loads of coats. The wood absorbs less and less each time. The first coat will be absolutely drunk silly by the boards and the thought of going back for more tins to do the required number of coats will make you cry. However, by the 3rd and 4th coat, it hardly takes any at all. When this happens, this is the time to finish.
Christian.
P.S.
Don't even think about staining the boards. It looks simply appalling. Absolutely horrible. The sanded boards will darken with time, which looks much better than some manky watered down paint with obvious variation and brush marks. Use only clear satin varnish (or various oils instead if appearance is more important than protection).
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P.S. It is absolutely essential to sand between the 2nd and 3rd coats. Use a light orbital sander (NOT the hired sander!) with finish paper (i.e. 150+). Go over the whole lot very quickly. Rub your hand in front of and behind the sander to feel what a difference it makes.
Christian.
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Christian McArdle wrote in message ..

People seem to have different opinions about this. My husband sands after the first coat, once any remaining fibres are "set" in the varnish. You say after the 2nd and the Diamond Coat tin (in this case an old tin, new ones might be different) says "before the last coat". What do others do?

150+).
behind the

For floors I have just discovered a really quick and effective method. We have a sanding pad, the type used for sanding joints when taping and jointing, the one with the fitting which allows it to tip and turn, which fits onto a long handle. I sanded the floors along the grain using a method like sweeping the floor, with fine sandpaper. Much easier than getting down on hands and knees.
The hand held pad, also meant for plaster joints, has been really useful on the stairs too.
Holly
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This really depends on the quality of the timber. Some need more sanding than others, and a sealer before that last sanding.
If I were using varnish as a finish, then I'd use a shellac-based sanding sealer before this last sanding pass. It dries quickly and produces a final cure much faster than a varnish. Waiting for a varnish to be truly ready to sand would add another day to the sander hire, IMHO. Use a blonde shellac, because you don't want a coloured sealer that's going to be partially sanded through and leave a blotchy finish.
OTOH, Floorcoat doesn't like being put down over any other coating, so I don't do this. I might spray the floor with water to raise the grain before the last sanding, but that's about it.
--
Smert' spamionam

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said:

I'd agree generally, but I did a 90-year old bathroom (small hand-held belt sander, jesus) and wasn't going to stain until I got to the part by the WC. 90 years of poor markmanship meant I had to stain the rest of the floor or it wouldn't have been er...uniform. And before you ask, I used wood stain...
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On 26 Nov 2004 03:54:26 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@davidmason.org.uk (David) wrote:

Try oxalic acid as a bleach.
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On 24 Nov 2004 13:17:12 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@ukgateway.net (Kieren) wrote:

We did the front room (two rooms knocked through) and the hall. Took the entire weekend (finished varnishing at midnight on Sunday). Absolutely knackering (and we're pretty fit), not the perfect finish but not bad, and dust gets *everywhere*.
It's not desperately difficult to do but it's a long, messy, physical, noisy, awkward job. Oh, and Ronseal Diamond Hard is a good clear varnish if you decide to go that way.
Good luck!
Charlie
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<snip>
ye gods! I'm sure that I hired a sander, edging sander, transformer and the sanding sheets for approx 70 from Kougar hire in Isleworth about 2 years ago - that was for the weekend. Give 'em a call - they're not that far from you.
That'd leave you 130ish to buy a decent mask with (what, 20 for a really good one?) and get the varnish (can be expensive, around the 50 mark perhaps).
As for the work, well it's messy and quite hard work, but not too difficult and very rewarding when it's done.
Start off by working diagonally across the boards (to level) and then work along them to finish. Watch out for the edger - they're quite agressive ad if you don't go through the grits strictly then you can end up with rather bad circular disk marks which helpfully only become really apparent when you apply the finish! They can also go through heating pipes in a flash.
If they're pine boards and you intend to stain them then be careful - pine is pretty hard to stain evenly over large areas - it can have a range of absorbancies. I stained a floor down by mixing stain and danish oil, then varnishing on top of that, but I wouldn't really recommend that method for an area of heavy use. You've got to be careful that the stain is compatible with the finish that you intend to protect it all with as well - best thing if you do this is to choose your intended products and then ring the manufacturer's technical department before buying and using them.
--
Richard Sampson

mail me at
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Lots of good advice here. Just two tips I would add.
Firstly, remember that is is hideously noisy, and that you will not endear yourselves to your new neighbours by sanding late into the evenings. Worth considering when you're planning whether you can really do two rooms in a weekend. From my experience I would say that two rooms of the size you're talking about would just about be doable to a good standard in a weekend, but you would be pushing it a little (and may need to add bottles of wine/boxes of chocs to the budget to placate those next door).
Secondly (and as money is at a premium, I guess if it wasn't none of us would be DIYing), the sale-or-return sanding sheets from the hireshops is usually pretty expensive. Screwfix do it much cheaper http://www.screwfix.com/app/sfd/cat/pro.jsp?ts 588&id198 There are three grades which each come in packs of ten. I would say you could get through ten sheets of each doing both rooms (especially if you're as bad at spotting protruding tacks as I was). I would buy a pack of each from Screwfix, and then only use the sale-or-return stuff if the Screwfix supply runs out. For some reason screwfix don't supply the discs for the edge sander as far as I know.
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I found that my local independent hire shop did better prices, well under a 3rd of those of HSS, but not matching those screwfix ones. I would be concerned whether they fitted the machine hired, though. Are all machines the same?
The only thing was that they encouraged me to get lots of each grade, whilst I found that about half the total that I used were the coarsest grade (24). However, my boards were completely screwed, having black gunk overpainted by dark green gloss paint. Don't ask.
The 24 grit got everything off, put the boards looked pretty scratched up. It only needed a little bit of working up to the 100 grit to remove all traces.
Christian.
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Thanks for all the advice everyone......will let you know how it all turned out.
Cheers
Kieren
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I can't say categorically, but I've hired various types of sanders from various different hire shops and they have all had 8" (200mm) drums and have all used the same type of sheets (which I've also bought on a mix and match basis from all over the place and never had compatibility problems with, just financial ones ;-)
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