Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Floor Sanding, Day 1

Our porch is back to being the storage shed. It almost looks like a very cluttered living room, right? I woke Alex at 6 am this morning and we headed to the Home Depot. The man at the tool rental counter was extremely skeptical, telling us over and over again that drum sanders were "not for amateurs," and warning that if there was varnish on the floor it wouldn't work anyway. We persisted, and rented the thing for a 4 hour chunk. After grabbing plastic sheeting to tape off the rest of the house and a bunch of sand paper rolls for the machine, we headed home. The clock was ticking!

The plan was that I would sand the dining room while Alex pulled nails in the living room (I'm pretty useless at pulling nails when they're this embedded.) While we were given instructions on how to use the sander, Alex, ahem, lost them. So we had to figure it out on our own. I wanted to go up and back; Alex though we should always move forward, so when we hit a wall, we should turn. I tried that, and the self propelled sander almost ran me into the wall. It also looked crummy where we turned since we were going against the grain of the wood. Eventually I got the hang of it (after a few inner breakdowns) and it worked great! You begin with the lowest grit sand paper, and make sure to get all parts of the floor evenly. Forward and back is correct, but you pull the lever up when repositioning the sander, which Alex figured out.

Because our floor is 3/4" and there isn't any subfloor, I was less worried about making it perfectly level and more worried about leaving as much floor there as possible. If there was a groove that the sander wouldn't get, we left it. The hand sander could take care of it. As you can see below, the hand sander is a little messier, since it doesn't suck up most of the saw dust into a little bag.

We had to rush a bit at the end, but we got the sander back just a few minutes late, and they give you a 1 hour grace period anyway. Turns out the home depot employee recommended we get twice as many sand paper thingies as we needed, and since they were 8 bucks a pop, we saved a few for when we do the upstairs, but returned the rest. Score! So far, it's been a 106$ proposition. Still need the edger, and the stain.

The wood looks gorgeous! I definitely want a dark stain down here, given what we're doing with the molding, but up in the bedroom I might just polyurethane it since it's so lovely.

Hooray for progress! We're bringing the little truck back to my parents this weekend, and I'd really love to rent the edger tomorrow or friday to get everything sanded before we head out. Because we have to tape off the kitchen and stairwell from the sanding, it's a little tricky to maneuver around the house at present, so I'm motivated to get this project finished!!

In other news, the wall we've been working on for EVER in the dining room looks much better than the one in the living room. Turns out everyone who said we needed to patch with drywall was wrong. Those places look the worst, actually. No idea if the cracks will come back in a week, but since we've used a bunch of different methods on different cracks, we'll eventually know the best option.

Recommendations for other newbies:

1) Don't listen to everyone - you can use a floor sander. You'd think it was brain surgery or something!

2) Never stop moving when the drum is down, but of course you can move when it's up; you have to get to the next place. No one says this.

3) You can apply a little pressure with the lever when you hit a particularly tricky or grooved spot.

4) Empty the saw dust bag carefully, outside, and with the whole thing wrapped in a garbage bag. That said, it will still be a nightmare and get all over everything.

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