Dustless Floor Sanding Durban and Cape Town

Hardwood floor sanding in Durban and Cape Town is normally done by making use of a specialised company such as The Wood Joint. Some wooden floor sanding companies hire them in when needed but if you are sanding floors regularly then you may want to consider buying one. There are, broadly speaking, two different types of floor sanders or floor grinders. They are relatively expensive to buy and therefore expensive to hire.

Drum sander

The drum sander is an older technology machine that uses a drum with sand paper of varying grits attached to it. The drum spins in a horizontal direction and removes sealer or coating from the wooden floors. One would typically start with a rough grit like a 40 grit paper or rougher and then proceed through the grits to get a finer, smoother finish on the floors before sealing them. These machines come in different widths and different size motors. All of these machines do a similar job. The wider ones at 300mm wide obviously remove sealer a lot quicker as they are covering more surface area. There are two type of paper one can use. A paper-backed sandpaper which is cheaper but will tear or rip more easily if the drum catches a nail or rough edge on the floor. There is also a cloth backed paper which is about 3 times the price. Being cloth backed it is a lot more durable and won’t tear or rip as easily as paper-backed sand paper. Also because it doesn’t get as hot, it last a bit longer than paper-backed before it becomes dull. This is well worth the investment especially if you have a floor that has rough edges or nails protruding or if the drum sander is an older machine. Older machines tend to rip paper more easily because of worn parts. These machines, if calibrated properly work fairly well as they remove 300mm of sealer at a time. They can be difficult to “drive” as they are continually trying to run away from you in a forward direction and the machine needs to be pulled back against the direction of turn. They can also be very messy because the drum is rotating in a horizontal direction and throwing saw dust up into the air. A word of caution when using these machines. When they are switched on make sure the sand paper is not making contact with the floor as the machine will move on its own, probably slap bang into the wall if no-one is hanging on to it. Or worse still slap bang into the pool if you are sanding a deck. The machine can be tilted back so that the paper doesn’t engage the floor,or they are sometimes lever driven. Always work the floor sander in the direction of the boards to avoid scratching the boards against the grain.

Planetary System Floor Grinder

The other type of machine is essentially a floor grinder and is the same machine used to grind concrete floors to a smooth finish. It works with a motor in a vertical position and the shaft spins vertically as opposed to horizontally. Below the motor are three disks of 180mm diameter which can accept various tools, with varying grit, for different applications. Each disk spins in one direction while the whole set of three disks spins in the opposite direct. It is called a planetary system. They move a lot slower than the drum sander but because they are moving in the vertical direction they tend to keep the dust down rather than throwing it into the air. With the correct tool you can achieve the same result more quickly, with less effort and less mess. Even without dust extraction they are a lot less dusty and the dust can be controlled and extracted up as the machine works. Because they spin slower they are a lot easier to use and can be pushed along with one hand. Dust extraction can be fitted to the machine to result in a 99% dust free process. The idea is to start with a course grit tool, or paper, and move through the tools, or papers, until the desired level of smoothness is achieved. There are also other steel tools which act as rasps or files that can be used for stubborn sealer or to level a newly installed floor where small ridges have been left between boards after installation. These machines sand about 10mm to 20mm from the edge of the skirting so the edge sanding is minimised greatly. These machine can be used with or against the grain as they are spinning cross grain anyway.

At The Wood Joint we use both machines depending on what the application is.

A good finish to use is a water based polyurethane as you will be able to apply multiple coats in one day as it dries very quickly. Apply by roller and brush in the corners. Attach a broom stick to your roller so you can stand and do it rather than kneeling on the floor. A light sand with a very fine grit should be performed after the first coat as the first coat will raise the fibres in the wood. Once these have been sanded off very lightly the second and third coats can be applied. Make sure to vacuum properly to remove all dust before the second coat. Dust settles into the polyurethane and dries leaving it rough. Allow it to dry as per the manufacturer’s specification which should be dry enough to walk on after a short while but it will take several days to hard dry. It is best to take your shoes or boots off when sealing and walk in your socks.

This machine can also attend to concrete floor grinding. There is a separate article on this blog regarding concrete floor grinding.

For a free no obligation quote on dustless wooden floor sanding, please contact us on 082 496 5444 or use the contact us form below.

Solid Wooden Floors Installed in Saligna in Toti

Solid wood flooring Durban

Click to enlarge

Here’s a solid wooden floor we installed using saligna in Toti, South of Durban. These solid wooden floors were done in saligna boards of about 22 x 72mm wide. The width of each board is always dependent on how wide the boards originally come in at. So these boards came in at about 25mm x 76mm ( a standard timber size in construction) and were machined down to 22 x 72mm.

They are normally machined as a tongue and groove (see picture alongside). This allows the installer to slot each piece into each other as he moves from one end of the room to the other. They are unlike the other boards we used in Hluhluwe (see a few articles before) where they were end matched.

Because the saligna is locally grown in South Africa (gum) they are available in much longer lengths. This is also due to the fact that a gum tree, grows relatively straight and one can obtain long lengths from the tree. The lengths of saligna we used here were all 3m lengths. So there is no need to end match the tongue and groove as one either cuts the end off to match it up to a bearer or you can install a bearer midway between the main bearers to accept the end of the floor board thus reducing waste.

We were installing a new floor here which had to match the existing floor as closely as possible. The existing floor boards were about 68mm wide, but we would have wasted too much timber planning them down that far. The difference between 68mm and 72mm is not that great (4mm in fact) and considering that they are being laid next to each other instead of matching them up on ends, the difference in width is not noticeable.  Once everything was sanded again it all matched the same colour.

The colour of new and old timber varies initially, but this very soon changes due to exposure to UV and within no time it matches almost perfectly the colour of the older timber.

Solid wood flooring Durban

Click to enlarge

We sanded these floors with the floor drum sander to get rid of any ridges between floor boards and sealed the wooden floors with a water based polyurethane floor sealer in clear and sheen.

The difference between water based floor sealers, solvent based floor sealers and epoxy based floor sealers will be discussed in other articles on this blog, but for the purpose of this exercise I have gravitated between two of them, water based and solvent based for some years.

As water based products evolve in their technology, I am swaying more and more towards this technology as an alternative to solvent based products. They are for one a lot less harm full to the environment, and to a greater, or lesser, degree are at times better on the pocket as well as the time and effort taken to apply them.

For a free no obligation quote on your solid wooden floors, laminates or engineered flooring, please call us on 082 496 5444 or you can contact me via the contact form below.

Solid Wood Floors – All Brown Teak End Matched

Solid hardwood floors

Click to enlarge

These solid wood floors were installed in Hluhluwe in a house that was being renovated by the new owner on a farm. We used all brown teak, end matched. Most of our teak in South Africa comes from Zimbabwe and they are not allowing teak to leave the country without being machined there. So they were machined in Zim, exported to Gauteng and then shipped to Durban and then up to Hluhluwe. We always allow our timber to stand on site for at least two weeks to acclimatise to the humidity and conditions in their final resting place. This eliminates problems further down the line of boards swelling after installation which cause popping of boards.

Because it is quite difficult to get long lengths of teak, these boards were end matched. They varied in length from 450mm to 1m. To avoid waste in installation the manufacturer will machine them with tongue and groove joints on all four sides so that instead of cutting the ends off to line them up with a bearer, you can simply install them end to end between two bearers because they are tongue and grooved on all four sides. The amount of waste that would be created if they were to be cut would amount to almost half of the total floor area. With lengths of 3m plus, this is not necessary as the waste is far less as a percentage of the total wood being used.

Solid hardwood floors

Click to enlarge

We had two areas to floor, upstairs and downstairs. Upstairs there was a mezzanine type floor that had been installed already with wood joists and shutter ply. We installed bearers on top of this and then nailed our floor boards on to them. Downstairs was a concrete substrate which we fixed bearers to using hiltis. It is vitally important to get this substructure of bearers completely flat and level. So spend a bit of time on getting this right as the rest of the job will run smoothly if this is done correctly. The easiest way is to install one bearer on one end of the room and another on the other end of the room with both being level in both directions and to each other. Then run fish line between the two in intervals of about 500mm. Now you can set all your other bearers flat and level to these two, the result being a completely flat and level substructure.

Once the bearers are down you can start installing the boards from one end of the room. We used a specialised hardwood floor nailer, which I have written about here. Because this machine, or tool, is designed at a 45° angle, it cannot be used for the first or last floor boards. On the first one you must use a 40mm oval nail through the tongue (pre drill the pilot hole in hardwoods such as teak) and counter sink it is so it is invisible. From here you can use the hardwood floor nailer. The last board, or last few boards, will also not be able to be installed using this tool as the wall will get in the way. You also can’t successfully nail by hand as you did on the first board, so you will need to face nail the board. That is to drive a nail through the face of the board into the bearer and then neatly close the hole with a suitable filler to match you wood colour.

The next step is to sand the floor flat. Even though these hardwood floor boards are machined precisely to fit snugly into each other through the tongue and groove joint, they do sometimes vary in thickness by a quarter mm and this needs to be sanded flat using a floor sander and 40 grit paper. Teak is extremely hard so this part was slow going. Once it is flat you can then use a 100 grit paper to get rid of scratch marks left by the 40 grit and get the wood to a smooth finish ready for sealing.

Solid hardwood floors

Click to enlarge

Vacuum ALL the dust up and vacuum again to make sure that ALL dust is off the floor prior to sealing. We also use a flat broom. The same broom you see them using in shopping centres. This broom moves dust around in one steady motion rather than the normal sweep motion that causes the dust to become airborne and settle again where you have just swept. From time to time you need to vacuum the broom to get rid of the dust and continue sweeping.

3 Coats of a good quality polyurethane sealer is required. Sand lightly with a 200 grit paper to remove any hairs or fibres that would have been raised after the first coat. If using a water based sealer you can dilute the first coat with water so that it penetrates the timber. There are many sealers that can be used. We prefer the water based ones as they dry quicker than the others and are friendlier in their behaviour.

For a free no obligation quote on installing or just sanding and sealing your solid wood floors, please contact us on 082 496 5444 or you can use the contact us form below.

Solid hardwood floors

Click to enlarge

Solid hardwood floors

Click to enlarge

Wooden Parquet Floor Sanding and Sealing

We were called to quote on sanding and sealing the wooden Swiss parquet floors in an old house in Hillcrest. From the pics alongside you can see that these rooms are the typical large ones found in older houses.

Swiss parquet floor sanding Durban

Click to enlarge

The Swiss parquet floors have probably been there well on 40 years or probably even since the house was built. Since then carpets have been put down on top of them, probably in the seventies when those big thick pile carpets where the fashion. The carpets had been lifted some time ago but the sealer on the wooden floor was scuffed in many areas and although it was not peeling off or flaking, it had worn back to wood in high traffic areas and there were various marks on them from pot plants and other items that had been placed on them and left for long periods of time.

The total area we had to sand was 170m², so quite a nice sized area. It consisted of 3 bedrooms, passage, lounge, dining room and study. We were relatively lucky in that the existing coating had deteriorated to a point where it came off quite easily. One always needs to be careful of floors that have been coated fairly recently and still hold a lot of coating or sealer because it tends to clog the sand paper. In these cases one needs to use a very coarse grit paper of about 30 grit and at times you need to sand at 45 degrees to the grain to remove it and then sand again with the grain with a less coarse paper. Also, although the floor is flat, it is never perfectly flat and the large floor sander sometimes

Swiss parquet floor sanding Durban

Click to enlarge

leaves patches. So just turn the machine at a slight angle to get it to flatten the floor in that area and then go back with the grain to get your scratch marks all running in the same direction.

Once the bulk of the sealer or coating is off, one needs to come back with a smaller hand-held sander to remove those stubborn areas. Once it’s all off you need to remove the scratch marks with a finer sand paper. If you’ve started with a 30 grit paper, you may need to then go to a 60 and then to a 100 grit. But always finish on a 100 grit paper.

We used a polyurethane epoxy floor sealer with hardener or accelerator (mineral based) on these floors in order to speed up the drying time. The client was living in the house so we had to limit dust and had to paint rooms in a special order so that they could still live there while we sealed the floors.

I’m still not completely sold on water based products. The water based floor sealers I have used require many more coats to get the same thickness of coating. Although they dry a lot quicker and many more coats can be applied in the same day, they tend to use a lot more and, in my opinion, don’t provide as hard a finish as mineral based

Swiss parquet floor sealing Durban

Click to enlarge

products, especially those with catalysts for hardening.

In between coats we rubbed the floors with steel wool to remove the fibres in the wood that stand up when first coated. A thorough vacuum after that and a second coat was applied.

A quick tip on using the epoxy / polyurethane floor sealer.  Because this product has an accelerator, or hardener associated with it, it goes off, or dries, a lot quicker than a single pack polyurethane.  When you mix your sealer with the accelerator, you should use a flat-bottomed tin such as a coffee tin or jam tin and a flat paddle to mix.  The flat-bottomed tin allows one to mix it thoroughly because there are no ridges for the flat paddle to get stuck on (as opposed to a coke bottle).  A good choice for a flat paddle is a steel ruler.  If you were to pour it directly into your paint tray you will be need to clean that paint tray with every new mix otherwise the sealer will be getting hard already and will interfere with the smooth rolling on the floor.  So place a black dustbin bag (well it can be any colour really) over the paint tray and simply through the black bag away after each mix.  Don’t mix too much as the product has a pot life, (the time it can remain liquid enough to use in the pot).  A hot day will result it in going off quicker than a cold day, or a humid day, and using more accelerator will also result in a quicker drying time.  So be careful with your quantities, you don’t want to waste sealer.

Swiss parquet floor sealing DurbanZ

Click to enlarge

This product should be applied very thinly in order for it to dry quickly.  If it is applied too thickly the top will dry but the middle will still be tacky and it will take much longer to be able to walk on it to flat it and apply subsequent coats.  So mix just enough each time.  If it starts going off in the tray, rather through it away than try to apply it while it is already getting hard.  What happens then is that the front edge of the roller spreads it on the floor and the back-end of the roller starts to pull it off the floor because it is already tacky.  This results in a streaky floor which will mean getting the sander out again.  So rather waste a little sealer and star with fresh sealer than waste time by re-sanding it.  And then of course mix a little less so it doesn’t go off in the pot or tin.

For a free no obligation quote on installing wooden floors or floor sanding and sealing please call us on 082 496 5444 or use the contact us form below.

Solid Wood Floors Durban

Solid wood floors Durban

Click to enlarge

This client had existing saligna wooden floors which were suspended, or sprung, and she wanted to extend the floor to the other half of the room which was concrete with a linoleum covering. The total area was about 12 square metres. A small job in size but we needed to be careful to get it flush and level with the existing floor.

Saligna makes very nice floors in that it is relatively inexpensive as it is grown locally in South Africa. Saligna come from gum trees. It is a hardwood and relatively hard and dense so is moderately durable. It is not of course as good as teak or some of the other hardwoods, but it is cost-effective and does the job well. The sapwood is a pale yellow in colour, fairly well-defined from the light rose-brown heartwood. The grain is usually interlocked, occasionally straight and the texture is rather coarse. The wood weighs between 700-800 Kg / m³ when dried. It takes nails and screws reasonably well. So overall it makes a good flooring timber when taking into account cost and durability.

It is always a good idea to let the floor boards acclimatise on site in the area they will be installed, for about 2 weeks. Timber “moves” (expands and contracts) a bit in different climates and one wants all the movement to occur before installing the boards so as to limit any gaps that might open up after installation. This is particularly the case with saligna as it tends to “move” a bit more than other timbers. Saligna also prefers to be installed on a suspended system, as opposed to being stuck down to the concrete substrate, as it can then still move during its lifetime without cracking.

Solid wood floors Durban

Click to enlarge

We installed 30mm batons, also in Saligna, to the floor using hiltis and then attached our floor boards to these using oval nails. One should always use the same wood as the batons, or one of similar density, so that they can “move” at the same rate. A nail gun with brad nails isn’t the best way to secure them as the brad nails aren’t ribbed and can pull out in the future. There are pneumatic nail guns available that take ribbed nails which make the job a lot quicker and easier.

The trick in doing these floors, as it is with decks, is to make sure that the top of your batons are flat and level. If your substrate is flat and level and can’t move, the boards will go down nicely and the floor will give you many years of warmth and enjoyment.

These were tongue and groove boards so each board’s tongue slips into the other boards groove to give a seamless finish. The nails are hammered in at a 45 degree angle through the tongue so they are concealed.

Solid wood floors Durban

Click to enlarge

When these boards are machined the tongue and groove are machine slightly off center so that the boards can be sanded during their lifetime a few more times than if they were machined dead center. A board can only be sanded a number of times until the thickness between the top of the board and the tongue becomes so small that they start breaking off. This is particularly the case with saligna as it is not as hard as teak for instance and when it is sanded the sander removes slightly more wood than it would on a teak floor.

Solid wood floors Durban

Click to enalrge

We sanded the floor flat, installed some skirtings to match and then sealed it using a Woodoc Floor sealer.

For a free no obligation quote on solid wood floors, laminates and floor sanding and sealing please call us on 082 496 5444 or use the contact us form below.

Removing Carpet Glue from Solid Wooden Floors

Removing floor adhesive

Clik to enlarge

A major problem that one encounters when refurbishing old wooden floors is that of carpet glue. When these floors were first covered by carpets, back in the day when thick pile carpets were popular, they used carpet glue to stick the carpets down. The good news is that it can be removed successfully. The majority of it needs to come off before sanding the floor otherwise the sand paper will get clogged which will result in a higher cost of consumables as well as time in changing the paper more often. With a bit of time and the right tools and substances the job can be done quite quickly.

The glue that will have been used will either be a tar based substance or a general carpet adhesive. Most older houses will have used a tar based substance and newer houses a general purpose carpet glue. Tar based glues will have a tan to dark brown appearance whilst general purpose glues will be yellowish in colour. The process is very similar but the materials used will differ and it is important to choose the correct one so as not to waste time and money.

Tar based glue is best removed or loosened using mineral spirits which is readily available at any hardware store and is inexpensive. General purpose glue is best removed using a modern-day adhesive remover also available at your local hardware store. If you are a contractor, I would suggest sourcing the supplier, as this will reduce your cost significantly. Follow the instructions carefully as they will be pretty thorough and will explain how each product works best. Both products will be applied using either a sponge or roller and enough time needs to be given to allow it to do its magic. It is a very similar process to removing paint using paint stripper.

Removing floor adhesive

Click to enlarge

Once it has done its magic, use a plastic putty knife or similar to scrape and loosen the glue. Don’t use a steel knife as this can leave deep marks and gouges in the wood, making your sanding job a lot harder.

Once the bulk of the glue has been removed soak a rag in the mineral spirits or adhesive remover and rub the floor to remove the last bit. If you find that you have stubborn areas you can use a steel knife but be careful not to damage the floor or yourself.

The floor should now be left to dry completely. Leave the widows open too to get good ventilation and speed up the drying process. Check on the instructions if you can use water to clean it or not, although this will probably not be necessary as you are still going to sand it.

Your floor is now ready to be sanded smooth before re-sealing. Always take precautions and work in well-ventilated areas when using an adhesive remover as these substances can be very harmful. Always read the manufacturer’s instructions and take heed of their precautions. They know their product better than anyone.

Removing floor adhesive

Click to enlarge

You can search this blog for tips on sanding and sealing your floor by using the search bar on the top right.

For a free no obligation quote on your entire flooring or decking needs please feel free to call us on 082 496 5444 or use the contact form below. You’ll be surprised on how much you can save by getting a professional in to do the job.

Floor Sanding Durban

Floor sanding Durban

Click to enlarge

Many home owners, with old houses, are finding that once they remove the carpets, which became so popular in the 70’s, that there are lovely solid wood floors beneath. After so many years of being trapped beneath a carpet, they do of course need some sanding and sealing in order to bring them back to their previous splendour. Most often there is nothing wrong with these floors and all that is required is a sand and seal to bring them back to new. At times one might find that some of the boards are lifting as the adhesive has given way in which case you will need to clean up the surface and re-adhere them to the substrate. Some of the older floors were stuck down using linoleum glue and I have found floors where this has all come off and left the boards loose. It then needs to be cleaned using mineral spirits. It is best to remove all of this and then use a modern-day adhesive to re-apply them.

Most contractors who installed solid wood floors of yesteryear used top quality timber and therefore you will find that the timber itself is quite all right to last another 100 years, if not longer. Because floors are generally not exposed to much water and weathering, their condition will remain almost as original and all that is required is a good sand and seal.

Floor sanding Durban

Click to enlarge

We use an industrial floor sander with a rough grit paper to remove all old sealer and any dirt and blemishes that may have taken hold over the years. The floor sander cannot reach all corners and once we have the majority of it off we use belt sanders and a rotex sander to reach the corners and up against the skirting or wall. Once it’s all off we come back and sand to a smoother finish using a smoother grit paper on all machines until we have reached the desired smoothness.

Once the floor is sanded to the desired smoothness by slowly taking the grit of the paper up, the floor should be completely swept to get rid of all dust. Be careful not to wet the floor with water. Water will cause the fibres in the wood to rise which will result in it going out of smooth and the sanding process will need to be started all over again. A good industrial vacuum cleaner will do the job and will lift all dust to get your floor ready to seal. There are dustless floor sanders available which either work by containing the dust in a bag or they connect to a vacuum cleaner that sucks the dust up as it is being sanded. The latter of course is the better option as then there is much less cleaning after sanding.

Once your dust is up you are ready to start sealing. There are various sealers on the market but the best to use is a polyurethane sealer. You can get a good quality water based one which will allow you to apply subsequent coats more quickly as it dries much quicker. You can get all three coats down in one day using water based polyurethane. The other polyurethane is a two pack one which contains a catalyst so that it dries extremely hard. The choice is yours. Two pack polyurethane will take longer to get your coats down so will cost more due to the time factor but will probably last longer, but will also be more harmful to the environment. Water based coating technology has come a long way these days and I wouldn’t completely shy away from it. But chose a well know brand to make sure that you are getting quality all the way.

Floor sanding Durban

Click to enlarge

You will need to lightly sand after the first coat to get rid of the fibres that stand up after sealing. As mentioned above water will make these fibres rise, so you will find with water based polyurethane these fibres will be more prominent resulting in a rough finish. So lightly sand them off, suck the dust up, and apply the second coat. Feel the wood between coats 2 and 3 to see if that step needs to be repeated as the last thing you want is a rough finish after all that sanding. Take your shoes off too as you don’t want to damage the finish.

For a free no obligation quote, call us on 082 496 5444 or use the contact form below.