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Refinishing A Nold Doak Floor

splintergroupie_'s picture

This thread chronicles the result of my pestering Ian Gilham, whose floors you might have seen in the Gallery, for information about sanding the hardwood floors in my latest remodeling project, a house i moved 35 miles, gutted, and am starting to put back together. In exasperation at one point, he mentioned that it would be a lot easier to show me how to sand my floor than to answer another thousand questions! Having already gotten quotes way beyond my budget for the work, i did the calculations and offered a plane ticket if he would hop over the pond and teach me to do it myself without ruining the floor, something a flooring contractor certainly wouldn't have suffered. We collaborated on the text and photos that follow...

(post #127886, reply #1 of 50)

The floor was narrow strip red oak flooring in fair condition with yellowed varnish, no stain, about 1000 sq. ft. in area. There was an approximately 3-square-yard area of water damage and 3 small stains from pet urine or something similar.

All the work was done with machines hired from the local rental company. The drum sander was a standard 8" Clarkes.

(post #127886, reply #2 of 50)

The first pass was made diagonally across the floor, using 36 grit paper. Sanding diagonally across the grain is far more efficient at flattening the floor, but the scratches are deeper and more difficult to remove, so the preferred procedure is to sand diagonally both ways and then along the grain with each grit.

The whole procedure is then repeated, using 60 grit. Once the drum sanding with 60 grit was complete, the edges were sanded with a 6" spinner, also using 60 grit.

(post #127886, reply #3 of 50)

Some of the sanding dust from the drum sander was mixed with the varnish to form a paste about the consistency and color of honey . After vacuuming, the floor was broadfilled (trowel applied) with the paste.

(post #127886, reply #4 of 50)

Here's a picture of the sort of gaps the floor had before being filled:

(post #127886, reply #5 of 50)

12 hours later, the floor was drum-sanded with 80, then 100 grit--no diagonal sanding this time, only with the grain because the floor was now flat. The paper is fastened to the floor-sander drum with a clamping bar which leaves a gap in the sanding surface and as the drum rotates this gap leaves a series of ridges across the floor, called ‘skips' or ‘chatter marks'. The edges were sanded with the spinner to 100 grit. Notice how well the gaps are filled.

(We have no pictures of the spinner because i hated it with a passion and vowed never to touch one again. Because there was no baseboard and i was planning to add wainscot, we were able to sand sufficiently close to the edges with the 12" x 18" vibrating pad after i screwed up this portion of the operation.--sg)

(post #127886, reply #6 of 50)

To remove the chatter marks, a 12" x 18" vibrating pad sander was used with 80, then 100 grit, sheets, working along the grain. The sanding sheets were vibrated in the most peculiar way with an intermediary pad made of non-woven nylon, like a Scotch-Brite pad on steroids. No hooks, no loops, no cement, just the weight of the sander holding it down.

Operator's mask removed for the sake of clarity.

(I was actually quite interested in using this particular machine until Ian pointed out it was overheating the way i was using it.)

(post #127886, reply #7 of 50)

The whole floor was swept and vacuumed thoroughly and the first coat applied. To apply the coat we used an 18" roller with an ½" nap, a 1/4" nap would have been preferable, but was not available. Before using the roller cover it was brushed thoroughly with a stiff brush to remove any loose hairs.

The varnish was applied across the grain, working in strips of approximately 4' wide. A 3" brush was used to cut in the edges prior to rolling.

(post #127886, reply #8 of 50)

Once the 4' wide strip across the floor was finished, we returned to the start of the strip and, without adding varnish to the roller, gently crossed the wet varnish parallel to the grain to smooth out any roller marks. The action is: push the roller gently across the floor and lift it from the surface while still rolling at the end of the stroke to avoid leaving marks.

After applying the coat, the roller and brush were wrapped tightly in plastic bags to keep for the following day.

(post #127886, reply #9 of 50)

The first coat looked very good, with just a few hairs from the new roller (to be expected...this gets better the longer you use the roller) and some dimples in an area where the sun had shone on the floor and dried out the coat before it had a chance to settle. The whole floor was cut back lightly with an orbital sander, swept and vacuumed. A damp T-shirt was wrapped around a broom head and used as a tack-cloth to take up the last remaining speck of dust.

The second coat was applied in the same way as the first, after masking off the sunny window.

The coating used was Parkes satin polyurethane varnish--an excellent choice, as it turned out. Happily, the water damage sanded out completely and the pet stains were minimized once finished.

The floor has been left at this stage waiting for its final coats to be applied after the remainder of the remodeling is substantially completed, when I plan to put on at least one more coat and fix any little dings it collects.

Total cost for this operation was $606 for one week's rental of the three machines plus materials, 500 bucks for a round-trip ticket from England...

(post #127886, reply #10 of 50)

and a week of hard labor!

(post #127886, reply #11 of 50)

Good stuff SG and Ian. Whilst I had a vague idea of what goes on, I've never had to do a floor- probably will never need to- but this was all an education for me.

I recall Ian saying that he was visiting the States to do a flooring job and take a bit of a holiday, but I didn't make the connection.

Now, who in the UK needs to fly a furniture maker over from America for a wee bit of one-on-one tuition/collaboration, preferably at the end of March when I'd be able to take in Scotland versus France at Murrayfield? Any offers? Slainte, RJ.

(post #127886, reply #12 of 50)

Now we know why you and Ian haven't been posting much lately!

The trick of making a slurry for fill was intresting to me. Hadn't heard that one before. Thanks

Now get protection down before you patch that plaster.

(post #127886, reply #13 of 50)

splinty & ian... great job & documentation...

maybe taunton can move this to the gallery so it will stick around for awhile...

(post #127886, reply #14 of 50)

Great Job guys good tips also. i have to rescreen the floor i had done and I plan on showing the guy who did it this thread. Thanks alot and Ian.. Your the Bomb man.

(post #127886, reply #15 of 50)

I agree. Great work guys. I'm not at all familiar with moving a home, let alone keeping the flooring in check. It must have taken alot of preperation to make the move sucessful!

Is Ian making a tour here in the states? Hey splinter, I know where you're coming from with the "spinner" as I've never been fond of finishing floors. Was that the real Ian? All kiddin' aside, but I'd have to be leary of coating a floor with black rubber soles on my shoes.

Yea, move it into the gallery!

(post #127886, reply #16 of 50)

Ian's palying a road tour with splints as his floor manager.

(post #127886, reply #17 of 50)

when is his SO Cal tour date ?????

(post #127886, reply #18 of 50)

I normally wore a pair of surfboard slippers in Oz but they don't seem to sell them in Montana!
The boots actually have a composition sole and don't mark the floor --anyway, I'd been thoroughly dusted with the air-hose before I was allowed to go near it because, as you can imagine, the supervision was fairly strict.

(post #127886, reply #19 of 50)

How nice to come home after a hard day of mixing hot buttered rums for my Missoula galpals and see you liked the thread! Ian has asked for a Christmas bonus on account of i told him i'm doubling his wages next year.

It looks like this thread will be moving to the Gallery from here--thanks for suggesting it. We were hoping it would be an easily understood resource for the DIY'r sanding and and refinishing Q's that frequently come up. When i went looking for info, one of the things i wanted most to find--and couldn't--were photos of the floors at different stages of the process, some idea of what it should look like before it went FUBAR.

RJ: Missoula/May/Maggotfest, and if there's anything left of you to pour in the van, some kitchen cabinets to hang when you come to. It ain't Murrayfield, but it ain't bad...

(post #127886, reply #20 of 50)

Ah, the Maggotfest rugby tourney. Infamous for drunkenness, ribaldry, debauchery, bonhomie, some actual rugby playing, and general off pitch rugby type joie de vivre- something like that; my French has deserted me. My kind of blowing off steam. The kitchen cabinets have no chance of getting hung, but I could, nay,.... would be............ hungover. Pour me into that cab. I'd lose all my body supporting bones somewhere near the 13th. to 15th. pint. Slainte, RJ.

(post #127886, reply #21 of 50)

The advantages of a slurry made from the sanding dust and the varnish over proprietary floor fillers are that, being fibrous, it is compressible and it is compatible with the finish --- and it's cheaper!

With wide joints, it is better to use fibres from the first, coarse sanding as the resultant slurry will be less inclined to shrink as it dries.

The only real disadvantage is that the filler has to be left overnight to dry out before sanding can continue.

(post #127886, reply #22 of 50)

If the gap is wide, say 3/16" will it take longer to setup/cure?

(post #127886, reply #23 of 50)

Yes, it will, but it can still be sanded the following morning -- in fact, some contractors sand while the slurry is still wet -- I've never done it so I can't tell you what difference it makes.

With a really wide gap, you may need to fill twice because of shrinkage but I have never had filler fall out later.

(post #127886, reply #24 of 50)

Splintie and Ian, my hat is off to you two, I never cease to be amazed at the way some on this board work together.

Couple of questions though…

Don’t you get bubbles rolling the finish? I tried that long ago and had nothing but trouble. I have always used a lambs wool pad ever since, besides a pad will save a bunch of cutting in.

Splintie, I have a soft spot in my drive that needs some work, have any ideas? ;-)

(post #127886, reply #25 of 50)

Re bubbles in the finish: either it's a tribute to Ian's method or the Parkes poly itself that the finish leveled out so well. We both rolled the finish and neither of us had bubbles, but we rolled it slowly enough not to work air into it, is my perception. I did have some trouble on the final with-the-grain sweep as he can outreach me by a foot; i should have worked in narrower strips to get as smooth of liftoff picking up the roller as Ian did. Rolling it cross-grain on the first coats seemed to do a real good job of filling the pores, i noticed, but to tell the truth, i may try the pad instead on the final coat or two just for the experience of using it.

i Splintie, I have a soft spot in my drive that needs some work, have any ideas? ;-)

Viagra??? =)))

(post #127886, reply #26 of 50)

So viagra fills potholes????

Sanding before dry would probably just use more sandpaper because of gumming up. I'd anticipate that you would be taking dust from the flat surface and blending into the low filled spots similarly to finish power troweling concrete but it might not bond so well to partially cured varnish. I'd opt for full dry first.

(post #127886, reply #27 of 50)

Splinter is right that the slow crossing of the rolled strip levels it and doesn't raise many bubbles.
When the bubble bursts there is a raised ring of varnish and dimples happen when the varnish dries before these have levelled out.
Why does it dry? -- temperature too high, a patch of sun shining on the floor (we had that), a draught across the floor from under an external door for example.
I prefer an applicator for water-base as it puts on a thicker coat but I can work a lot faster with a roller for oil-base -- a consideration if you're on your own.

(post #127886, reply #28 of 50)

Ian, I'm curious about your opinion of finishing over infloor heat and how it might effect quality. I'll withhold my experience for a bit so as not to skew it.

(post #127886, reply #29 of 50)

With a really wide gap, would it be better to cut a strip of solid wood, say from an edge where a shoe moulding will cover it, and glue it in? This would have to harden and be cut down flush before the sander dust/varnish mix is applied.

-- J.S.

(post #127886, reply #30 of 50)

This is an excellent thread. I just hope there's some way of finding it again 2-3 years out when I finally get around to doing my oak floors.

Thanks, Splinter & Ian --

-- J.S.