I'd like to have floorboards, but where do I begin
Firstly it is always good to get advice on any major improvement to your property. Floors are a major part of your home and making the right decision on floor coverings will not only add appeal and value to your property but even save you money in both the long and short term. Polished floors are very practical and have a natural beauty and warmth all of their own. They can enhance the most ordinary of rooms as well as adding the finishing touch to an already superb decor.
Now that you have decided to have polished floors I would first check in an obscure part of your floor perhaps a corner or underneath the house, to check that you have floorboards under your existing floor coverings.
Yes we have floor boards. Can we sand the floors ourselves?
There are many establishments that will hire equipment to sand your floors, however this equipment is constantly being used by amateurs and as a result are usually unbalanced and far from the extremely expensive state of the art machinery used by expert trades people. I would therefore suggest that you seek a qualified tradesperson to undertake this type of work. The end result a floor that will truly add value to your property.
How do I find a good tradesperson?
Finding a tradesperson to undertake any building work can be a daunting task. Word-of-mouth recommendations are always good but if this is not possible there are a few basic guidelines for engaging a contractor.
Firstly, get more than one quote, even if is over the phone. That way you can be sure you are not being over-charged. At the same time, remember the old adage, "You get what you pay for"
Secondly, Make sure you obtain a detailed quote in writing. Listing all the work to be carried out, clarify the little things such as "will the rubbish & sawdust from the floor be removed from the site"?
Feel free to ask the contractor for references that you can contact if you choose. In NSW floor sanding contractor are required to be licensed this is easily checked, simply go to the department of fair trading in New South Wales Website. http://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/building/licencecheck.html
How do we know if our floors are fit to sand?
A quick check under your house before removing your floor coverings will give you an indication as to the condition of your boards and sub-floor structure. This will save you and the tradesperson some nasty surprises once you have removed all your floor coverings - particularly if you are purchasing a new property and intend to polish the boards. Some things to look for may be evidence of termites, water damage, presence of dampness etc. Please note that this is only a suggestion and that in most instances this process may not be necessary... The tradesperson, who comes to estimate for you, will be the best judge.
How much will it cost?
Cost will vary depending on:
- The size of your floor. You can estimate this by measuring the length and width of the room and multiplying the two together this will give you the square metreage.
- If your floor is old or new.
- What type of timber you have i.e. Pine, hardwood, parquetry etc.
- Type of floor finish to be used: polyurethane, Tung oil, waterborne etc.
- Type of finish: gloss, satin or matt.
- Sanding process involved.
There are many determining factors in obtaining an estimate, so be sure to be clear when ringing for estimates, exactly what you are being quoted for. Pricing can be an indicator of workmanship, so don't always assume the cheapest quote is the best. Word of mouth is definitely our best form of advertising.
What you can expect when your floors are professionally sanded & coated
Sanding and finishing a beautiful timber floor is a skill acquired over many years. Bear in mind that, as all the work is done by hand controlled machines and applicators, there can be evidence of this in the floor. Further as you live on the floor it will gain a character and feel that is unique to your home. This is all part of the beauty of owning a timber floor.
- Expert sanding and coating.
- Nails punched.
- Nail holes, knot holes and gaps at the end of boards to be filled with the appropriate filler.
- A coating that will provide many years of beauty providing it is properly maintained.
What not to expect
- A completely dust free environment. Modern sanding machinery is fitted with dust collecting equipment and sanders will endeavour to clean dust away by vacuuming and wiping down surfaces. It is virtually impossible however to totally eliminate dust from the job which has a couple of consequences:
- there will always be some dust particles that settle on the newly finished surface.
- there will be an amount of dust throughout the rest of the house.
- Removal of deep cuts such as those from carpet trimming knives or deep gouges in the boards.
- Removal of stains from within the boards and around nail holes such as animal urine and water marks.
- Filling gaps between the boards. These gaps are not filled because subsequent shrinkage and expansion in the timber will cause cracking in the filler.
- Do not expect boards damaged by borer to have the same gloss level as those in good condition.
- Do not expect any areas filled with putty to have the same feel as the timber after application of coatings.
Things you should be aware of
- Any silicone on a floor will cause rejection of subsequent coats of polyurethane. Silicone or silicone based products also include Fabulon, hair spray; fly spray etc.
- 12 volt downlights produce a cobweb effect on the coatings.
- You may get slight markings on skirting boards from contact with the Edger. That is why it is recommended to leave painting on skirting until after the floors are finished.
- Black Japan or stain around the perimeter of some older timber may produce a two tone effect.
- You are likely to get some variation in colour and grain between new and old boards.
How long will sanding our floor take?
As most coating systems require overnight dry times the usual job will be a minimum of two/ three days. This timeframe may be extended depending on the size of the job. As an estimate, most sanders would be able to sand on average 40 square meters / day. Remember to add the time for the coats to be applied and dry after that.
Will there be much smell? And can I live at home while my floors are being sanded?
Yes it will smell. Waterborne finishes are the most environmentally friendly, therefore produce less odor, All other finishes will generally require you to be in a well ventilated separate area, if you are to stay in your home whilst the floor is drying. However, as every job is different, please consult your tradesperson on their advice concerning your house layout or coatings used to ensure they meet your requirements.
What floor finish should we use?
Polyurethanes are currently the most widely used timber floor coatings. They are extremely durable, readily available and come in a range of finishes from high gloss to matt.
If you are using new timber please check with your timber supplier as to their recommendation for a suitable coating as some recommend only waterborne or tung oil base coatings to be used because of their flexibility should movement in the timber arise.
What type of gloss level should we use?
The sheen (shine) level on a floor is entirely a personal choice. Factors which could affect your decision include: I) whether the areas have down lights - a lot of light on a high gloss floor will cause glare. ii) Whether you clean the floor regularly - gloss floors show a lot of dust, due to their reflective nature. iii) If you have pets inside - pet’s nails can easily scratch the harder finishes, causing them to look worn more quickly. Currently satin is the sheen level in highest demand.
What will I have to do to prepare the floor?
You can save money by removing all existing floor coverings including tacks, staples and any smooth edge carpet strips from the floor. Remove all furniture and other items on walls, or alternatively, hang a cotton sheet over pictures.
Once the job is complete, when can I move my furniture back?
Most coating will dry overnight assuming mild weather conditions (15 to 25 degrees C) however 7 to 14 days for full curing in the case of polyurethane is suggested by most manufacturers. Any normal traffic should be avoided during this period of time. Small items residing in fixed positions may be put in place carefully provided they have protective tips underneath them within 3 to 5 days check with your tradesperson or coating manufacturer to make sure there is no misunderstanding on this matter as many floors are damaged in this crucial period.