QUESTIONS ON FLOOR SANDING 

Here are some questions we are frequently asked. We hope this helps, and we are happy to help with any further queries you may have 

Should I decorate or do the floor sanding first? 
This basically boils down to whether you are more precious about your walls or your floors. Ideally for us, we would suggest completing any sanding process prior to a room being decorated as inevitably the floor sanders will leave the odd mark on the skirting board. (These marks can easily be touched up at a later date.) Unfortunately, though, if we do the floor first it is not uncommon for decorators to mark the floor, either with paint (some dust sheets are quite porous) or with step-ladders. As our floor sanders have very good dust extraction, there is little chance of any dust getting into the paintwork, so the choice is usually driven by who is available first to start their respective task. 
How long does it take to sand a floor? 
Generally speaking, no matter how large the job, any floor sanding task will take a minimum of a day’s work. This is because, once sanded, three finishing coats have to be applied and each has to dry before the following one can be applied. 
Will it be very dusty? 
With our dust-free sanders there is very little dust to contend with (it is actually possible to operate them without the use of a dust mask). Unfortunately, cheap self-hire sanders with poor dust extraction have given sanding a bad name. Our modern machines, however, capture up to 98% of dust particles. The only exception to this is when sanding stairs, where it is a lot harder to contain the dust. 
Are you able to move concrete hearths? 
We routinely remove concrete hearths and infill with reclaimed wood. This is most prevalent in your average Victorian terrace where the rooms have been knocked through. There is no longer the need for two fireplaces and householder often try to maximise the space available. In most circumstances, we can achieve a good result by extending the existing joists and fitting reclaimed wood over the top. 
Is it possible to make the floor lighter or darker? 
It is considerably easier to make a floor go darker than lighter. We use a selection of oil-based stains to achieve this – from Medium Oak to Jacobean Oak and Walnut. We find that if the stain is too light many floors will go orange, which in some people’s minds is unsightly. To achieve a lighter finish, we normally lime wash the floor. This is a mixture of water and paint applied, with three coats of lacquer on top. 
Do I need to Clear the room? 
Generally speaking in order to complete the floor sanding process in a timely manner, it is preferable that the rooms are completely empty. Once we commence coating the floor, this allows for one complete treatment, without leaving any marks in the floor. 
 
It is possible to floor sand a room with furniture but does take considerably longer. 
Can we sand stairs? 
If the stairs are in reasonably good condition, these can readily be sanded. On occasions, it is then a good feature to put a carpet runner down the middle, which gives a pleasing look. On occasions we have just sanded & treated the treads. The risers are then painted white, again providing a good look. 
How are the gaps filled? 
There are a couple of options with Gap Filling. 
 
For the smaller gaps, we use a mixture of the fine dust & a solvent based resin. This is mixed into a paste & trowelled into the gaps. This is more suitable for Parquet Floors & pine boards with narrow gaps. Unfortunately over time, some of this filler works its way out & may need replenishing with a coloured mastic. 
 
With floor boards, we use Pine slivers, these are glued into the gaps, then sanded down to provide a smooth, level surface ready for coating. 
 
Unfortunately, wood being Hygroscopic, floorboards expand & contract with varying levels of humidity. Gaps can still open & close throughout the seasons. 
When will my floors need doing again? 
Generally, provided the floors are well maintained, they should not need redoing for over 10 years. If you do however, wear outdoor shoes inside, have pets or young children, the chances are they might not last as long. If you have a gravel drive, grit can be picked up from shoes and brought inside; equally, dragging furniture across a floor will rapidly cause damage. 
Do the floor finishes give off an odour? 
We use a solvent filler if gaps are being filled. We use this product primarily because it is the toughest on the market and the type most likely to remain in the gaps. There are water-based alternatives, although these are not as good. For the finishes we use water-based lacquers which are the industry standard. Hardeners can be added to these products for heavy traffick areas. Oil finishes are based on vegetable oils and waxes, and are consequently fairly odourless. 
How do I keep my floors looking good? 
We recommend putting felt pads on chairs or furniture if they are likely to damage the floor. A good exterior door mat is always helpful, as is an internal one. Stiletto heels will readily mark any floor so these are to be avoided, if possible. It is also worth bearing in mind that floors will change colour if exposed to a large amount of UV light. Day- to-day cleaning and the odd maintenance product will prolong the good looks of your floor. 

QUESTIONS ON WOOD FLOORING 

How much flooring do I need? 
Generally we require the total flooring area plus approximately 7.5% wastage. For large square areas this is reduced slightly. There are also other slight variations such as the grading of the floor, as some of the rustic grades boards are occasionally too unsightly to use. 
What sort of underlay do you use? 
For a nail-down floor, we regularly use Bitumen backed Building Paper, which acts as a damp-proof membrane. This is to stop moisture getting into the wood. For a floating floor, if the sub floor is slightly unlevel we often use a plastic membrane with 7mm fibreboards on top. This takes out some of the unevenness of the floor and gives added insulation. For a standard laminate floor, we may use either a foam underlay with Dpm 2.5mm or a 4mm rubberised underlay such as Timbermate Excel. The latter product also has good sound insulation properties. 
What is engineered wood flooring? 
Engineered wood flooring is multiple layers of different wood types. The advantage of this is that it is more stable and less susceptible to movement compared to its solid wood counterpart. The top layer (or wear layer) will be the desired finish and it is frequently difficult for the layman’s eye to differentiate between solid and engineered wood flooring. These products are usually installed as floating floors, hence they are easy to lay. They are also supplied pre-finished so they do not need finishing in situ and can be walked on immediately. After a number of years, should the top finish begin to wear, it is possible to sand and refinish (this could be done several times depending on the thickness of the wear layer, which can be anything from 1.5mm to 6mm). 
Can we fit flooring on top of underfloor heating? 
If the underfloor heating has been installed with the intention of fitting wood on top then, theoretically, wood flooring is perfectly suitable. However, as wood is regularly used as an insulant in a lot of building practises, if certain prerequisites are not met, it is not likely to be a success. Electric systems emit less heat and are generally preferable. Should a water-based system be in place, it is recommended that a surface temperature of 25 degrees C is not exceeded. 
What are the different grades of wood? 
During milling, certain areas of the tree are perceived to be of higher value. There are four different grades of wood as follows. Prime Grade – there are very few, if any, knots and the boards are all similar in shade and appearance. For a Select Grade, there will be more knots and slightly more colour variation. For the Character Grade , there will be considerably more knots and colour variation, also some wood splitting around the knots will be evident. Rustic is the final grade; this will contain a considerable amount of knots, variation and split boards. The latter type of flooring being more suitable to either a rustic setting/older property/commercial premises e.g. a bar. The Prime Grade being more suitable for a high-end finish such as a town house with modern fittings. 
What is a floating floor? 
A floating floor is installed by fitting directly on top of an underlay. This underlay will invariably incorporate a damp-proof barrier. The advantage of this system is that the flooring is separated from any potential moisture in the sub floor. It is also a cost-effective and problem-free way to install a floor. Many of the today’s products click together and can readily be taken up and refitted, should the need arise. 
What is the Forestry Stewardship certification? 
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an independent organisation that promotes responsible management of the world’s forests. The majority of manufacturers adhere to the FSC codes of practise. 
What is a bevelled edge? 
Traditionally, wood flooring would normally have been fitted with a square edge. With recent advances in manufacturing technology, bevelled edges are a popular feature for many types of flooring – not just wood but laminate and wood-effect laminate and tiles. The bevel (or micro-bevel) exaggerates the plank effect of the boards, which is aesthetically pleasing. 
What species of wood are available? 
The majority of wood used for for flooring in the UK is either Oak, Beech, Walnut or Ash, Maple or Cherry. There are also a few exotic species which are becoming increasingly scarce. 
Is my floor guaranteed? 
Many of the floors we source have up to a 15-year warranty, provided they are fitted following the manufacturer’s recommendations. We also provide a 2-year fitting guarantee. 
Why are gaps appearing in my floor? 
Throughout the seasons, there is a largely unnoticed fluctuation in the relative humidity of most buildings. Relative humidity (or RH) is basically a measure of the water-carrying capacity of air at a certain temperature. In the summer months, as the temperature is warm, there will be more moisture in the air. This moisture will be absorbed by flooring products and this frequently leads to floors expanding and occasionally lifting. This is most prevalent in July/August/September and we are frequently attending to previously poorly fitted floors at this time to rectify issues. Once the winter arrives, the air’s high moisture carrying capacity is no longer there and this, combined with modern heating systems, causes the exact opposite happen: moisture is drawn from the floors, causing shrinkage. This is true for laminate, engineered, solid wood flooring and parquet . It is with solid wood that the effects are most evident in the form of gaps in the joints. These can be filled if desired, but can over time return to their original state. 
Can you supply allergy free flooring? 
Wood flooring is possibly the most anti-allergy flooring product currently available. Any dust/dust mites, allergen or pollen has nowhere to hide. Providing the floor is hoovered regularly, wooden floors are ideal for those suffering from asthma or eczema. 
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