Dust Free Floor Sanding

South Coast Floor Sanding

Parquet Floor Sanding

Sanding parquet flooring is different from floor sanding engineered, solid wood strip or planks. The reason being that when sanding anything you should always go with the grain. It's impossible to go with the grain with parquet flooring as the blocks are laid in different directions.

So how do you sand parquet flooring I hear you asking?

Well the answer is you sand it at a 45 degrees angle to the grain. Some floor sanders say that you should sand parquet flooring another way. They say you should sand the floor with the directional grain of the block on one pass and then with the next pass, sand it in the opposite direction that was sanded on the previous pass. This is not a good way to sand a wooden floor, as it will cup the blocks that you cut across the grain.

First of all before starting to sand any wooden parquet floor, you should make sure all wood blocks are stuck down solid and remove all staples, nails and metal objects from the floor.

Once the floor is solid with no loose blocks and all metal objects are removed it's time to start floor sanding. We would normally start on a 40 grit floor sanding belt to level the floor and remove any deep scratches. You may sometimes have to sand the floor a couple of times with the 40 grit belt to make sure the floor is level, free from in ground dirt and scratches. when sanding the floor make sure to always pass perpendicular to the previous pass. Now you should use the edging sander with a 40 grit sanding disk to sand and level the edges.

Now it's time to make another pass over the floor with a 60 grit sanding belt sanding the floor at 45 degrees to the parquet blocks but perpendicular to the last past. Again sand the edges level with the edger and a 60 grit sanding disk.

Now it's time to fill the gaps between the blocks with epoxy resin filler and the dust you have got from the 60 grit sanding process. Mix up the epoxy resin filler and fine dust to make a wood paste. Now you need to spread the filler all over the floor making sure to fill any gaps between the parquet blocks. With some of the larger gaps you may need to fill them twice as the filler will shrink slightly during the drying. This will make the floor look dirty again as some of the filler will be left on the floor. Let the wood filler dry completely and then move to the next step.

Now it's time for the final pass with the belt floor sander with a 100 grit sanding belt. Again remember to sand the floor at a 45 degrees angle to the blocks but perpendicular to the previous pass. Now for the last time sand the edges with the edger and a 100 grit sanding disk. Make sure that you remove all of the wood filler with this final pass as the buffer will not remove the filler.

Now it is time to sand all of the corners down that the edger floor sander was unable to reach. To sad these corners you will need a Bosch 2 inch belt corner sander. Sand these corners down ad smooth of with a triangle detail sander.

Once the parquet floor is all sanded with a 100 grit sanding belt and all edges and corners sanded and smoothed, it is then time to start buffing / finishing the wooden floor. Start buffing the floor with a 120 grit sanding screed disk. Take time and care when buffing the floor as this is the finish on the whole floor. Buffing the floor will bring out any imperfections and scratches from the previous stages of floor sanding. Make sure to remove any scratches left behind from the belt and edger sander.

Once the floor is smooth and any scratches removed it's time give the floor a good hoover. Make sure when hoovering the floor to get all dust up as you do not want dust or grains of dirt in the lacquer. Once the floor is hoovered then pass over the floor with a slightly damp micro fibre mop to remove any remaining dust.

Finally it's time to start sealing the floor and all your hard work floor sanding. To apply the prime and lacquer you should use a short pile roller and roller the prime on to the floor. You should use 1 coat of prime on a bare floor followed by 2 coats of polyurethane wood floor lacquer. Make sure to let each coat dry properly before applying the next and make sure to buff the floor with a 150 grit sand screed disk and hoover well between every coat.

For high traffic areas you can apply additional coats or use a harder commercial wood floor lacquer.

Badly sanded wood floor
This is a badly sanded parquet floor. If you look closely you will see each block is crowned and not flat.

Top tips:

Make sure to remove scratches from previous pass / cut as this will stay in the floor. (Especially on the edges)
Make sure to buff and hoover the floor in between coats of prime an lacquer as you will get a much smother finish.
Leave the finished floor for the lacquer to cure for 3 days.
Make sure to fill any gaps as this will make all the difference to the finished wood floor.

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Why dust free floor sanding is so important – health & safety
The dangers of sanding a particular type of timber floor and why dust free floor sanding is so important. The client had expressed concern that the wood used in the floor was known to cause health issues when sanded. Whenever there is a discussion about any form of dust in a health context the natural assumption is that we are talking about respiration issues and possible long- term lung damage. However, whilst most people are aware of these problems they are usually less aware of some of the other possible health issues caused by dust particles from wood floor sanding.

So, let's consider the 5 problems associated with wood dust, why dust free floor sanding is so important and the measures that can be taken to mitigate the danger.

Lung damage.
Like our old “friend” asbestos, fine wood dust can hang in the air and be breathed in. Whilst not as life threatening as asbestos this dust can cause very small wounds to the lungs which are not immediately noticeable but are irreversible and eventually diminish the lung capacity.

This is quite common and normally manifests itself by causing itching, sneezing, short term breathing problems, skin flushing, runny nose etc. Merbau, Ipe and Iroko are timbers regularly used in flooring that can commonly cause many of the above symptoms, although just about every timber is listed as an irritant at some level.

Some woods become more sensitive to us with repeated exposure. In other words, we react a little worse to them with each subsequent contact. Iroko is a timber which is listed as a sensitizer whilst the Merbau and Ipe are not.

Some timbers are considered to be directly toxic, fortunately for us, none of those listed in the wood toxicity and allergen chart are in common use for flooring!

Cancer Causing
In this instance, we are referring to nasal cancer that can occur as a direct result of exposure to the dust from specific timbers. These cancers can affect any of the passages around the upper respiratory tract including the throat. Unfortunately, there are several timbers that can be used in flooring that pose a risk, including walnut and oak. Although it is rare, there is one very well-known case involving a prominent member of the floor sanding community.

Having listed the dangers of wood dust let's talk about what we can do to minimise the risk and why dust free floor sanding is so important.

The importance of dust free floor sanding – minimising dust
The most obvious control measure is to create as little airborne dust as possible. Since one of the best methods of achieving this (water), is ruled out by nature of the surface we are working on, it is essential that anyone regularly floor sanding uses only professional floor sanding equipment which has far better dust control than the cheap hire sanders.

Dust Control Systems

Dust Extractor

Smaller machines such as edgers and random orbital sanders can be improved by hooking them up to extractors. It is also possible to get DCS (dust control systems) for belt sanders but in my experience, they add little or nothing to the performance of professional machines.

Air Movers and Ventilation
Strategically placed air movers used in a room with open windows can suck the old, stale air from the room allowing fresh air to replace it. This is particularly useful in larger areas with a door to the outside and is often overlooked.

Personal protection equipment
Personal protection equipment such as masks or better still respirators should be worn all the time if using cheaper hire machines and would be recommended by some health experts as essential the whole time. With regard to irritation, it is obviously impossible to cover every piece skin but a respirator will help and if sanding a timber that you are particularly sensitive to.

Modern floor sanding equipment (when well maintained) is incredibly efficient at dust control. However, the greatest exposure to dust, irrespective of the quality of the machines, is during the emptying of dust bags. If you find it impossible to work using any form of protection, I would strongly suggest that you use it at this point if no other.

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