Author Topic: To sand or not to sand...  (Read 5975 times)

scottishstubble

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To sand or not to sand...
« on: November 25, 2013, 01:24:05 PM »
While I know the MMM answer to the above question, I'm looking for some reassurance that I'm making the right decision.

Essentially, DW and I have just moved to a new house and we're looking to make a few improvements. The front room, which currently has a green carpet from the 1980s, needs a bit of love. The floorboards look like they're in good condition so rather than replace the carpet, we'd like to sand the floors. A few years ago I wouldn't have considered doing this myself but like all those who have had a face punch or two from MMM's musings, I'm keen to give it a go...or I was.

A few friends who have sanded floors in the past say it was the one thing they regret not getting someone in to do. They said it was a job in itself to get the floor prepped smooth and when they did finish the sanding and varnishing it didn't come up as well as they would have liked. We've since had a quote for £270 (around $430) for two days work. I'd already booked a sander kit for this coming weekend (my wife and young son are staying at friends) and after the costs for sandpaper, varnish etc I think it will come to around £110 ($175).

Pros of doing it myself:
Save money
Learn a new skill
Feel great that I've done something myself and would give me more confidence for future work

Cons
An expert would do it much more quickly and probably do it better
Save me time for other DIY work I can do (I've got a bedroom to decorate)
Danger of doing a half-baked job and having to get a pro in anyway!

I appreciate the cons are all complainypants points (over here in Scotland I'd be called a whinger!) so any suggestions or encouragements are much appreciated. Even writing this down has made me feel more positive about the work.

Thanks in advance

UPDATE...Saturday at 11.26 pm

Today was sanding day. It was great/bad at the same time. I'll explain...

Starting at 1.30 pm (I was with my boy this morning) I: emptied the room; lifted the carpet; removed nails and staples; and generally prepared the room for sanding. It's been slow progress. The floor was in good nick but had black paint was proved - correction, proving - to be a nightmare to remove. The sanders were both tough to use (the big one was slow going while the hand sander was much better but became a thing of torture when it came to change the paper - my knuckles are bare and I had to take a break a few times just to calm down as I was so frustrated.

I eventually stopped at 11.10 as I have adjoining neighbours who I don't want to annoy (I knocked on their door at 9 to apologise for the noise - she was very sweet about it). My wife and son are back tomorrow morning before we head to church so I doubt I'll get anymore done before I have to return the sander on Monday morning.

While I'll think about it again in the cold light of day, I may have to call in an expert. I just don't know when I'd get a chance to finish it and with the house in a mess I can't wait too long. I know that sounds pathetic and also a waste of money but I'm still glad I did it. I've learnt a new skill, the knowledge of how much time it really takes and also not to wimp out at the first hurdle (although I have fallen at the second!). Much to ponder but thanks again for all your advice.

« Last Edit: November 30, 2013, 04:47:41 PM by scottishstubble »

sunshine

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Re: To sand or not to sand...
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2013, 01:35:21 PM »
We have done it twice. I'd pay if we ever have to do it again. This is just one of those things we tried twice and were not 100% happy with the results.   I realize this sounds nuts since we have ripped floors out right to the bare beams and redid it building the sub floor on up. We re-plumbed a whole house,  and all kinds of fun things but both of us agree we will not redo wood floors again or  do the pits for sump pumps.

That being said you might love it and have much better results.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2013, 01:39:19 PM by sunshine »

scottishstubble

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Re: To sand or not to sand...
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2013, 01:39:19 PM »
Thanks Sunshine - you're mirroring my friends views (who are pretty handy although not necessarily frugal).

sunshine

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Re: To sand or not to sand...
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2013, 01:40:48 PM »
My dad also did it once. Besides getting down right odd from the fumes ( he did it in winter) he ended up doing a small flooring allowance when he sold that home to make up for the flaws.

CommonCents

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Re: To sand or not to sand...
« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2013, 11:59:29 AM »
DH did it once, says we will pay for someone to do it when we move shortly. 

Spork

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Re: To sand or not to sand...
« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2013, 01:42:08 PM »

I think it also depends some on the species of wood.*


*think is the operative word here.  I've never done it.  Anyone with experience trumps my words.  But my upstairs is prepped to go for wood flooring (as soon as I can find a deal on it).  I'll be making this choice myself in the near-ish future.  I've looked at some of the harder species (hickory for example) and have heard that harder woods require even more skill.

willn

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Re: To sand or not to sand...
« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2013, 02:19:17 PM »
Doing it well is heavy  and exhausting work, and I've found that pro-grade tools aren't easily found for rent.  Pro's often use 220v sanders that weigh a few hundred. Home depot rents crapware.  If I had 300 sq feet I'd do it myself, anything more than one room I'd hire it out.

nawhite

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Re: To sand or not to sand...
« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2013, 03:22:35 PM »
Do it yourself and stop being a complainy pants!!!

I did 400 sqft of parquet red oak floors with my wife. I've written up a description in another thread but the biggest advice I have is read everything by these guys: http://www.peteshardwoodfloors.com/

Second bit of advice, start with a coarser grit than you think you need, 2 levels coarser if you use one of those vibrating sanders instead of a drum sander. We started with 36 grit with a vibrating sander and we should have gone down to 24 to get some warped boards taken care of.

We used waterlox as our finish which was awesome, but it takes at least 24 hours between coats to dry and it sounds like you don't have that much time.

worms

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Re: To sand or not to sand...
« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2013, 03:43:48 PM »
Hired from HSS and did it myself the first time, but got a guy in the second time.  I did a room twice the size that he did but I did it better. Don't skimp on the finish or you will regret it.  If I was doing it again, I would revert to hiring and doing it myself, I would use a softer finish rather than a hard varnish.

If you have an old house, the floors might come up really well with just washing and waxing - with perhaps only a very light sanding rather than going through the burach of industrial sanding.

KimPossible

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Re: To sand or not to sand...
« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2013, 03:47:08 PM »
I've sanded and refinished floors several times, and have been happy with the results.  Using a drum sander isn't the easiest thing in the world, but it's definitely doable, and a pretty cool skill to have.

I'm currently looking at having the floors refinished on a property we own--I really wish I could do it myself.  It kills me to pay the amount they charge (although in your case, it doesn't look like you're going to save very much).

If you decide to do it, just take your time and be easy on yourself.  And remember, just call any mistakes "character" :)

scottishstubble

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Re: To sand or not to sand...
« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2013, 05:23:44 PM »
Thanks for all the advice folks - much to ponder over. Worms - kudos on using 'burach' - tremendous term.

I go from accepting the need to get someone in to wanting to challenge myself and just do it. I also didn't factor in tax to the quote - another 20%. If I do, I'll post before and after pics.

aglassman

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Re: To sand or not to sand...
« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2013, 08:31:59 AM »
If you have the time, I'd say give it a shot.  If you are doing this to sell the house, maybe you should get a pro to do it.  My reasoning is that you can live with the flaws, where a buyer might want to take a few bucks off the asking price due to your workmanship.  I think that doing it yourself will give you that experience, and next time, you'll be even better at it.

from http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/10/18/why-your-time-is-worth-way-more-than-25-per-hour/

"4. Learning a Practical Physical Skill pays Quadruple Time
The Efficient IT consultant above had a sound argument based on the old ‘law of comparative advantage’ from the economics textbooks. But what he was missing is that painting a wall changes more than just the wall color. It counts towards your physical activity requirement. It teaches you a skill that is essential for any homeowner and will pay dividends for life. The end product is likely to be more satisfying, because it is a permanent symbol of your own accomplishment. AND it pays you a tax-free salary equal to what you’d otherwise have to pay the painter. "

Obviously this is harder than painting, but I think the principal still applies.

scottishstubble

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Re: To sand or not to sand...
« Reply #12 on: November 27, 2013, 10:27:06 AM »
Thanks aglassman, that was one of my favourite MMM posts and it was nice to re-read it. Grist to the mill!

Nawhite - thanks for the advice and link to Pete's Hardwood Floors. I think I'll need to buy those guys a coffee!

impaire

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Re: To sand or not to sand...
« Reply #13 on: November 27, 2013, 10:49:06 AM »
I did it with my mom, when I was 17; neither of us had experience. I actually enjoyed the process a lot (the perfectionist in me had a field day), and the result was great, if not 100% perfect (but I've seen professionally refinished floors which weren't any better; you have to have realistic expectations of what a refinish can do). We were starting from fairly good-condition boards, and arrived to compliment-worthy floors.

So I say try it if you are so inclined!

scottishstubble

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Re: To sand or not to sand...
« Reply #14 on: November 30, 2013, 05:45:23 PM »
Updated main post above.

aglassman

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Re: To sand or not to sand...
« Reply #15 on: December 02, 2013, 08:43:39 AM »
Nice Job!  At least you gave it a shot.

impaire

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Re: To sand or not to sand...
« Reply #16 on: December 02, 2013, 09:08:26 AM »
Hey, looks like you made a TON of progress! Too bad you can't finish it yourself, but at least you've started and it will be less work for the pros.

gooki

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Re: To sand or not to sand...
« Reply #17 on: December 02, 2013, 12:47:04 PM »
I'd just leave it as is and go for a distressed look.

Spork

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Re: To sand or not to sand...
« Reply #18 on: December 02, 2013, 12:51:52 PM »
While we're on the topic...  I am considering biting on a craigslist load of recycled flooring.  It will definitely need refinishing.  Would there be an advantage here of running them through a planer first?  Or is that just an extra step and I should just install and follow the Pete's Hardwood instructions?

willn

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Re: To sand or not to sand...
« Reply #19 on: December 02, 2013, 01:03:02 PM »
While we're on the topic...  I am considering biting on a craigslist load of recycled flooring.  It will definitely need refinishing.  Would there be an advantage here of running them through a planer first?  Or is that just an extra step and I should just install and follow the Pete's Hardwood instructions?

I wouldn't. Perhaps if the flooring were wildly cupped or crowned you may want to do this.