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

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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

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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.