Finish Floor without sanding?

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  #1  
Old 08-03-15, 08:26 AM
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Finish Floor without sanding?

I have an upstairs bedroom in my cape house that has old wall-to-wall carpet--my daughter's room.

Underneath the carpet is 3/4" oak. Wife and kids our away for a few days and want to pull the carpet and finish the oak floor.

But... I dont want to get involved with sanding due to the mess/dust. I really just want this to be a quick and easy job. Naturally, of course, I want it to look good. Looking good and easy seem to be trade-offs in this case.

The floor, from what I have seen in the corners where I pulled the rug up, seems to be in good shape and unfinished. I'm guessing it has been covered with carpet since it was installed 60 years ago.

I know its hard since you can't see the floor, but would you think that I could get away with pulling up the carpet, a quick vacuum job, and then a coat or two of polly?

The way I figure it, an area rug will always cover hardwood floors anyway--all but a few feet around the perimeter of the room. Add to that the fact that it is a bedroom with lamps for lighting (as opposed to high hats) and it seems a bit silly to spend all kinds of effort and money to achieve a glass-like finish.
 
  #2  
Old 08-03-15, 08:35 AM
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Was the floor previously finished? or is it bare wood?

If there is a previous finish you need to sand first to get good adhesion although you might get by with wiping it down with a liquid deglosser [like liquid sandpaper]

If it's bare wood, I can't imagine being able to get it clean enough without sanding. If the floor is smooth [no high spots between boards] you might be able to get by with a light sanding.
 
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Old 08-03-15, 08:45 AM
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The floor was not previously finished. It is bare wood. I don't yet know if there are high spots as I haven't pulled all the carpet yet--just in the corners.

Like I mentioned in the original post, though, most of the floor will be covered by an area rug. Isn't that usually the case?

But why would the floor not get clean enough without sanding assuming it has always been covered with carpet (and assuming there were never any spills or messes on the carpet)? In that situation, shouldnt it have remained clean?

What would a light sanding be? Orbital sander only? I REALLY want to avoid renting the big drum sander. Its only one room about 13' x 14'.

In fact, I also dont want to remove the furniture (dresser, chest, bed). I'd like to move it all to one side and finish. Then wait a day or so and do the second side.
 
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Old 08-03-15, 09:03 AM
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It can be done with a little hand held sander but the shape of the floor will determine if that method is too labor intensive. Two things need to be addressed when finishing old raw wood; it needs to be cleaned and the 'pores' of the wood need to be opened up some - sanding will accomplish both of those tasks. I have rented an edger before to sand small rooms although never one that big.

If you only do half of the room at a time you'd need to stop/start the poly along a joint in the wood. It's not like flat wall paint where you can get by with painting half of a wall and then come back later to do the other half. It is best to empty the room! The poly needs to both dry and cured before you can move the furniture without risk of damaging the fresh poly.
 
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Old 08-03-15, 09:05 AM
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You can't apply multiple coats of poly without sanding in between as that is required for good adhesion between the coats.

Sorry, I just don't see your plan working well; I believe it would be easier to move everything out and take a few days to do this properly.
 
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Old 08-03-15, 09:11 AM
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"hand held sander" do you mean a belt sander?

I'm ok with starting/stopping the poly along a joint. Emptying the room is really not something I want to add to this job (due to a bad back and lack of place to put the stuff). I could wait longer though if needed. If each side needs several days to dry, we would deal with that. But I will consider moving it all out when the time comes to do the work. It may not be as bad as I think.

My main concern is the sanding/not sanding/how to sand with minimal effort issue.
 
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Old 08-03-15, 09:20 AM
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"You can't apply multiple coats of poly without sanding in between as that is required for good adhesion between the coats."

Sorry but that is something that I just dont believe. I am not a flooring expert by any means but did re-finish my main level, and have also done with others for siblings and friends.

Never did we sand between coats. 20+ years and all is well with all of the floors--high traffic high usage areas.

Dont get me wrong. I know the "pros" do it that way but just overkill in my (and many DIYers I have worked with) opinions.

The pro's jobs do come out better, I suppose, if you are willing to scrutinize and nitpick.

Sand the floor, walk on it with only socks, use an air compressor to blow all the dust out through a fan window, and lay the polly. Come back the next day and put down another coat.

Every floor looks great. Any small bumps, air bubbles, etc. get "sanded" by normal usage in no time. There is no noticable difference between these floors and those done by the "pros"

Add to that the fact that 90% of the floor will never be seen because it is under an area rug or a piece of furniture and it only makes the differences even smaller.
 
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Old 08-03-15, 09:31 AM
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Ok, you've obviously decided what you're going to do. I wish you luck and success.
 
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Old 08-03-15, 09:59 AM
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I'd bet if you read the label on a can of poly it will say to sand between coats. The longer the time frame between coats the more important sanding is. Not sanding runs the risk of the two coats not bonding well and the top coat peeling later on Personally I would not skip sanding between coats!

Extreme care has to be used if you use a belt sander on the floor. While it is basically just a smaller version of a drum sander - it's very easy to sand gouges/grooves into the wood. I'd either use a full size sander or just an orbital sander. They rent buffers and large pad sanders for floor sanding that is a LOT more diy friendly than a drum sander.

The whole job will go a lot easier if you can figure out a way to empty the room first!
 
  #10  
Old 08-03-15, 01:15 PM
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...most of the floor will be covered by an area rug. Isn't that usually the case?
Not in my experience. Why would you go to the trouble of having a nice hardwood floor if you want to cover 90% of it with a rug? I have NO rugs on my wooden floors and my friends have minimalist rugs on their hardwood floors. If you want rugs then why not just go with W-W carpeting?
 
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Old 08-03-15, 02:26 PM
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I have NO rugs on my wooden floors and my friends have minimalist rugs on their hardwood floors. If you want rugs then why not just go with W-W carpeting?
It just seems that there are always area rugs. Maybe it depends on the room, the people, the living situation, etc. With kids and pets wall to wall is a disaster. But so is a hardwood floor with no rugs. Its slippery when wet, cold when you lay on it, and creaks when you walk on it (at least in my old house). And stepping barefoot on that stray Lego is even less forgiving.

But even with a large area rug and just the perimeter exposed, it still gives a classy look.

In this case, it is a small bedroom. There is a dresser, a chest, and a bed. Even if there were just a small rug in the center of the room, most of the floor is still not exposed.

In any case, is the concensus to rent the drum/orbital? Even just for the one room?
 
  #12  
Old 08-03-15, 02:33 PM
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Unless you have experience with one, I wouldn't recommend renting a drum sander. Buffers with a sanding pad are lot more novice friendly. While I've not used one, they also have a big square pad sander you can rent that is really diy friendly. You should call around to the various tool rental stores and see what they have available.

If you are convinced the floor will mostly be covered by a rug I suppose you could just use a small orbital sander to sand and then finish just the perimeter of the room.

floor sander - Square Buff Floor Sander
 
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Old 08-03-15, 02:41 PM
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Well, my thinking isnt to only do the perimeter since I think that is all that will ultimately show. Its more that, since I think it will not be highly visible, a quick job will be "good enough"

Clearing out the room may not be possible. I dont think I have enough free space in the other room upstairs to put all of the stuff from this room.

At times like this, Im of the mindset of: get the job done and make it good enough.

My concern is that it wont even be good enough. Although I think it will be I'm not 100% sure.

And the more I sand, the more dust I will have going everywhere, right? (I think).

It looks like that square sander gets in the corners as well. Is that correct? Or do you still need a second machine like an orbital?
 
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Old 08-03-15, 02:49 PM
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I don't know how well those sanders get in close although it would get closer than a drum sander. You almost always have to use a small sander and/or a sharp scraper to get in tight.

Floor sanders have a dust bag which helps but there will be dust on the walls along with the floor. Keeping the door shut will minimize dust traveling to other rooms.
 
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Old 08-03-15, 02:51 PM
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I am assuming that an air compressor will get the dust off the walls... blowing it out the window.
 
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Old 08-03-15, 02:57 PM
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It's better to use a rag. Compressed air will blow some out the window but also leave some suspended in the air where it can fall back onto the floor or even into the wet poly
 
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Old 08-03-15, 03:03 PM
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Sighhhhhhhh.

Sounds like I'll be moving furniture, sanding, and wiping down walls.

Thought I would get away with just applying the polly.

But they are unfinished as of now and should be clean and in good condition (will know for sure when the entire rug comes up).

If it is as good condition as I think it will be, can I just start with the finest grit and go over it once--with the buffer?
 
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Old 08-03-15, 04:02 PM
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Depends on how level the floor is [smooth transistions from board to board]
 
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Old 08-04-15, 07:38 AM
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Ok, cleared out the room and the carpet is up. the floor looks great.

It might have a thin coat of wax on it. Its hard to tell since, if it does, it is about 60 years old. Its just that it is slightly darker than the floor in the hallway which I know is unfinished. Maybe a penetrating finish? But then again, maybe nothing. I just cant tell for sure.

But it is nice and flat (smooth transitions from board to board).

With a floor that is in excellent condition (may or may not have a thin coat of wax or finish) would you just use the buffer? I dont see any reason to start with a 36 grit paper.
 

Last edited by rmathome; 08-04-15 at 08:23 AM.
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Old 08-04-15, 09:57 AM
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Sometimes you can't tell until you get started but it sounds like you can start with a finer grit [60 or 80]

If there is wax [doubtful but possible] it should be removed first. Sanding might remove it but it could work it deeper into the wood Sprinkle some drops of the water on the wood, if it readily absorbs it - there is no wax but if it beads up, then it could be wax.
 
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Old 08-04-15, 10:06 AM
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If there is wax [doubtful but possible]
Doubtful because of the timeframe/age?
 
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Old 08-04-15, 10:19 AM
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People don't wax raw wood very often but you do need to rule it out/in. Raw wood will age differently depending on it's exposure to light and I would hope that is the case with your floors but you need to be sure as wax can affect the ability of the poly to adhere to the wood.
 
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Old 08-04-15, 12:34 PM
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ok. I feel like I am in pretty good shape now.

Thanks so much for all of your time and advice.

I'll be renting a buffer tonight after work from HD. Or maybe tomorrow morning if I wont have time to sand tonight and will get charged and extra day. I want to be able to put in a good 3 or 4 hours at night.

In any case, I'll be reporting back soon.

Thank you again. You've been a great help.
 
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Old 08-05-15, 08:03 AM
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OK, sanded with the square buff floor sander.

Turns out it needed more sanding than I thought. I thought I could start with the 80 grit, but I needed to go down to the 36 to start. A drum sander would have worked better but I dont regret using the much safer and more forgiving square sander.

Still, it did a nice job and was super easy to use. Seems impossible to gouge the floor with one of these things.

It seems the floor DID have a finish on it. It was hard to tell at first. But, when done, there are a number of spots that are low--looks like gouges from when the floor was sanded with a drum sander many years ago. A couple of dozen of these. And in these gouges, the color is darker since they didnt get sanded.

They are about the width and length of a pencil and are all perpendicular to the planks/grain. The square buffer just couldnt get down low enough to take these out.

I will use a handheld belt sander to touch these spots up--is that a good idea? I think the belt sander should make quick work of these.

Also bought a window fan and not an ounce of dust got anywhere outside the room. None on walls either. I did seal any openings and covered shelves with plastic but I dont think I even needed to do that. When standing by the door I could feel the draft of air being pulled into the room--so there must have been a pretty good vacuum due to the window fan. If I sand with a belt sander tonight I dont think I will even bother sealing anything with the plastic.
 
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Old 08-05-15, 10:41 AM
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The problem with a belt sander is it's so easy to make a mistake. The big issue with a drum sander is sanding dips into the floor because the sander isn't kept moving. You still have that concern with a belt sander but there is the potential for more mistakes because the belt is so narrow. If you just sand out the gouge - that area will likely be lower than the rest of the floor.

There are some fillers available that work decent on oak [for gouges and gaps] so that might be a better option. Sometimes leaving a defect looks better than a less than perfect attempt at a fix.
 
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Old 08-05-15, 11:50 AM
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Yes, I have certainly gouged my share of things with my belt sander. I thought it would be a good choice since it is easy to control--unlike a large drum. I figured as long as I keep a light touch with broad stokes with the grain it would be ok.

I will try it in a few spots and see how it works.

Even with the filler, I would first need to create me own gouges, in effect, by sanding the original gouges... right?

If there were fewer of these gouge marks from the original sanding, I would do them by hand. I think if I had the paper conforming to the shape of the wood as opposed to flat (as if using a sanding block) that would resolve the issue best. But there are too many for that. I did a small area by hand yesterday where the buffer couldnt reach--Im just in no shape for much more of that hands and knees type effort.

I agree that a defect can be better than a failed attempt at fixing it. This is just too widespread--a few dozen around the floor. If there were fewer, or they were confined to a single area I would leave them.

I'll give the belt sander a shot and see how it works in an inconspicuous spot.
 
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Old 08-05-15, 12:05 PM
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IMO a drum sander is easier to control than a belt sander on a floor. The biggest issue with a drum sander is keeping it moving. Uneven movement often results in a wavy floor

Remember, I've not seen your gouges but often as long as it's clean all you do is fill the groove/gap, let it dry and then sand it even. They sell an oak filler that looks decent when covered with poly and will accept stain - minor defects look better filled than wider ones. Since I don't work on floors alot I don't remember the name of the oak filler but most anywhere floor finishing products are sold will have it [don't know if that includes a big box]
 
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Old 08-05-15, 01:07 PM
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Oh I think I see what you are saying. The filler is oak colored so it would cover the existing gouges that still have the old finish in them.

Is that right?
 
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Old 08-05-15, 01:11 PM
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.... and it's not feasible to sand them out with the floor sander? Ideally you would sand the whole floor down to that level eliminating the gouges.
 
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Old 08-05-15, 01:57 PM
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Ideally you would sand the whole floor down to that level eliminating the gouges.
Yes, and with the drum I know that is the whole point of it.

With the buffer that is really a challenge. It just doesnt dig in very well. Realistically, a drum would have been the machine.

But I didnt think I needed the aggressiveness of the drum AND wanted to avoid it so I 1)didnt make a mistake by gouging 2)didnt have to haul it in/out of the car and up/down the stairs with a bad back. Even the buffer was a challenge with my back but I have already brought it back to HD.

If I was willing to sand each spot by hand then I could take off just enough and the gouges would be no more noticable than they were before I sanded--which was completely unnoticable.

The only reason I see them now is because I sanded and they remain as recessed spots.

I do think that I can be gentle enough with the beltsander. Am I being naive?

Who knows, maybe I will do each little spot by hand.
 
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Old 08-05-15, 02:21 PM
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I do think that I can be gentle enough with the beltsander. Am I being naive?
maybe, while it can be done it's not as easy as you would think. Go slow so you don't get yourself in trouble that would be difficult to get out of.

It's hard to say if filler or a little hand sanding will do ok without having seen the bad spots.
 
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Old 08-06-15, 08:58 AM
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After testing in corner, it turns out that the marks were almost completely masked by the amber poly.

So, I only went over a few of the darker spots and ones near the entrance.

Two coats of poly are on--one last night and one this morning. It looks pretty good. I might do one more coat.

One thing that seemed strange though is the color of the poly before it went on the floor. It gave the floor the traditional amber hue. But in the can and in the pan, it was purple.

I have seen poly that, even in the can, was amber colored. I have some from when I did my main level floors 15 years ago saved in a glass jar and it is amber.

What is the deal with the purple?
 
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Old 08-06-15, 09:35 AM
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Can't say that I ever noticed any purple poly although it is possible a color or light in the room was reflecting off of the poly giving it that appearance.
 
  #34  
Old 08-06-15, 12:57 PM
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I guess thats possible. It's not a very well lit room. Not much natural light (only one window) and the two lights I was using were flourescents so who knows.

When I go home tonight I will check it in better light. But boy was I sure it was purple.
 
  #35  
Old 08-10-15, 08:16 AM
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It was a Minwax poly. Straight poly, nothing added.

And even in natural light it was a purple tint.
 
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Old 08-12-15, 08:22 AM
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ok, the floor has been done for a few days now.

When moving the furniture back, a small scratch on the floor led to a small piece of poly that peeled off.

It was not the first coat as what was under the peeled piece is still smooth/shiny/pollied. So I am assuming the second or third coats is what came off a little.

the can of poly was very clear in stating that no sanding is needed between coats, so I did not sand. At least as long as it was re-coated after 6 hours and before 10--which I adhered to.

Does it sound like the poly peeled because of not sanding between coats even though, technically, I shoulndt have needed to?

Is it possible some sweat drops (I was dripping like crazy when I was doing this) caused an issue?
 
  #37  
Old 08-12-15, 10:40 AM
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IMO it's always best to sand between coats! It's possible the sweat drops played a role too.
 
 

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