::floors:: second step - sanding

We started our whole sanding fiasco while Bud and Barb were here visiting. Why a fiasco? oh sheesh. This post is the last time you'll see the steps numbered out because from here it gets a little fuzzy. We used more different types of sanders than I even knew existed.

So the first thing we did was rent the sander and papers from Lowe's. It's a vibrating sander and the large rectangular papers just stick to the bottom of the machine. The paper almost feels plastic-y and they're very expensive - like five to eight dollars per sheet. Supposedly, they're supposed to last a lot longer than traditional sandpaper and get the job done. It's also supposed to be an easier machine to use since it won't take chunks out of the floor if you don't move around fast enough. We'd seen the machine every time we went to the paint department and had asked the employees what they thought; the reviews seemed to be pretty positive, so we thought we'd give it a shot. The verdict? Epic fail.

We started with the 60 grit and it didn't sand the floor evenly at all - it was incredibly splotchy and left a lot of swirly marks on the floor. I'm not sure how much of that is due to our floor being extremely old and creaky (the fir underneath is the old part, so I'm thinking if it's uneven, the oak on top will be uneven as well) so the flat bottom couldn't get down into the low parts and how much was just because the machine was crappy. Bud and Chad tried several solutions: pictured above is a heavy tool box tied to the sander to try and weigh it down so it would sand more evenly. Not a great solution. Another thing they tried was to have one person stand with their feet on the white edges while the other directed the sander. A little more useful but hard to sustain. The upside was that it didn't really create a lot of dust... but that was because it wasn't doing anything, so hard to really celebrate that victory.

We know that you're supposed to sand with the grain so they did the whole living room and entry way with the grain. Then Chad gave it a shot going against the grain. It seemed to get a little bit better sanding coverage, but still not great. We didn't think it would matter too much, since that machine sands in a swirl (vibrating) motion anyway, so it's not like you can tell if it's with the grain or against. As the day wore on, I pulled out the hand sanders and tried using both the handheld orbital sander and handheld belt sander, going with the grain. The belt sander worked pretty well and pulled the layers off pretty evenly, but it was s-l-o-w going. The orbital sander did a decent job along the edges and baseboards. We knew the hand method was working, but does it seem ridiculous to anyone else to rent a sander and then do the whole thing by hand? Yeah, wasn't gonna happen.

We ended up taking a trip to our local Ahern and rented a drum sander to see what it would do. We picked up the rest of their 60 grit sandpaper which was only about six sheets and brought it all home.

With the drum sander we saw instant results. It's so heavy that if you stay in one spot while it's turned on, it will just gouge your floor right out, but the upside is that it works quickly. I tried my hand at it, but Chad was definitely the pro. The best part? It had a little bag attached to the machine that sucked the dust up, so it wasn't nearly as dusty as I'd dreaded. In the picture below, you can see the difference a machine makes. The floor in the top half of the picture was sanded first by the Lowe's machine and then by the drum sander. The floor in the bottom half of the picture has only been sanded by the Lowe's sander. See all the shiny (ish) spots?

We still had the Lowe's machine and sandpaper so we thought while we had extra people, we'd go ahead and use it. We got into a system with Chad going down the room with the drum sander, Bud following behind with the Lowe's machine and 80 grit, me following with 60 grit on the orbital along the edges and Barb sweeping up all of the sawdust.

We worked our way up through the grits 60-80-100 around the room until it felt smooth as a baby's bottom!
Although this sounds like a quick do-it-in-a-day process, it was a little bit of a nightmare. Ahern closed that day at noon and we ran out of sandpaper at about 3:00 for the drum sander, which kind of put us at a standstill for a while. Luckily, we were able to finish the front room before running out. We did keep checking back and when they finally restocked, they had sold it by the time we got there, so it seems like we waited for 3 weeks-ish to be able to finish the 60 grit sanding in the bedrooms.

We were pretty miffed at Lowe's and their false reviews (by people who had probably never used it) of their sander.
When we returned it, the salesgirl asked how it worked and we told her it didn't really work at all, that we had, in fact, rented a sander from another place to do the job. She went ahead and refunded our deposit, the rental price, and all of our unused sandpapers. We were pretty pleased with that, and Lowe's got a point back.
Thus concludes the story of how we sanded our living room and entryway.

This happened fairly quickly and then sat and waited while we got caught up with the back of the house... I was worried the floors would get dirty enough by the time we were ready to stain that it would need to be sanded again! Luckily, no.


Anonymous said...

I am exhausted and feel like taking a shower after reading of your travails--how do you spell that?--what a headache. Had I read this before walking the floor I would have been more appreciative of the beauty of your floor now. It really is quite nice. You all are amazing people!

Floor Sanding Company London said...
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