centre, then work toward the right side
of the room. Much depends though on
the room layout.
During this process the need for
repair work may become evident. Once
the rough sanding has taken place,
borer or termite damage may have
been exposed. If repairs are required,
do those before you continue with the
If the floor is in a sad state the
second cut can be made in the same
manner as above but working at 90
degrees to the first cut. Only do this if
absolutely necessary and ensure that the
boards are thick enough.
The third cut (or as in most cases
the second cut) is carried out in the
direction of the boards. As the boards
are now mainly level and most of the
old coatings removed this cut may be
done with a higher grit paper than the
Once a new path has been cut,
move to the left or right and ensure
an overlap of 50 to 100 mm. Continue
this process across the room. When
the full width of the room is sanded,
turn around and sand the other side of
Step 3. Edging
Now it is time to use the edge sander.
The perimeter needs to be sanded level
and blended into the body of the floor.
Overlap a distance of some 100 to 150
mm. Care should be taken that the
machine is held level so that the edger
does not dig groves into the boards.
Repeat the sanding and edging gradually
working up to a finer grit. Grades of
paper used on the edging machine
are the same as those used on the belt
sander; if you started sanding with a 40
grit and finished with 120 grit then use
the same sanding grits for the edging.
If you think you can take shortcuts by
starting off sanding with 40 grit and
then jumping to 100 grit, you will have
a badly scratched floor and will need
more time and materials to rectify the
scratches left by the 40 grit papers.
Never use an edge sander in the
middle area of the floor. It could leave
swirl marks or deep cuts that may be
very difficult to sand out.
The second sanding removes the
scratches left from the previous sanding
and creates a finer surface. Repeat the
same process, but this time use a finer
grit than previously. This time, only
move the machine along the length of
the boards; no cross cutting is necessary.
Again, use the edge sander with the
same grit paper that you have just used
to do the main part of the floor.
The final sand
The final sand uses a finer grade of
paper – once again reducing the depth
of the scratching and prepares the floor
for the coating system.
Vacuum the floor, not forgetting the
window sills and door frames.
For areas that the edge sander
cannot reach use a triangle sander
and sand close into the corners and
around the door frames finishing off
with at least 120 grit sandpapers.
Ensure that all sanding marks have
If no machine is at hand, use a sharp
paint scraper. The scraping action
should always be in the direction of the
grain. Then sand by hand along the
grain of the timber to a fine finish.
If you do not have a paint scraper
and your corners are heavily varnished
or have paint spills, use a sharp chisel to
gently remove the varnish or paint, then
sand by hand again along the grain of
If using a synthetic varnish, then this
step may not be necessary. If, however,
you intend to use natural oils, it is
highly recommended. This will achieve
a finer finish and a surface that will not
require re-sanding when rejuvenation is
Fit the buffer with a white pad and
a 100 grit screen back (sanding screen
disc). If you have never used a buffer/
rotary sander previously, start in the
centre of the room and work it towards
the wall slowly. Never let it sit in one
place and over sand a spot.
Work around the perimeter of
the room. Once back to the starting
point move the buffer backwards and
forwards across the grain. Overlap
each pass generously and sand the
entire floor. Move slowly and get close
to the edges. Pay particular attention
to the area where the belt sander and
edger overlapped. One side of the
screen back should be enough for a
20m2 room. Turn the screen back
upside down and repeat the procedure,
however this time working along the
grain of the timber.
Repeat the buffing with a 150 screen
back in the same manner as above.
Vacuum thoroughly not forgetting
window sills, door frames etc. It is
recommended that floors be vacuumed
in the same direction as the floorboards.
Do not drag the vacuum cleaner along
the freshly sanded boards as marks may
The floor should now be scratch free.
If using natural penetrating oils these
will enhance the colour and structure
of the timber but will also highlight any
imperfections in the sanding, even more
so if using stains.
If using a varnish, then it is
imperative to remove all dust and grit
from the floor and surrounding areas. If
not, the dust will adhere to the freshly
lacquered floor and give a gritty look.
Finishing the floor
Apply the floor finish you have chosen
once sanding is completed. Do not allow
others on the floor as they may have
contaminants on their shoes that will
only show up once the floor is coated.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions
and wear protective equipment if
necessary to guard against strong vapours.
It may be necessary to arrange alternative
accommodation for some days.
Sanding floors is strenuous to say
the least and you need to weigh up the
cost of and accessibility of machines and
materials and the time involved. It may
be more cost effective to have it done
professionally and have someone else
accountable for the sanding and finishing.
If you do sand and treat your floor,
the sense of achievement will far exceedthe aches and pains.