What is floor sanding?

If you’re reading this article, it’s because you want to know what floor sanding is, and if it’s right for you. Firstly, let’s cover the basics. Floor sanding is the process of removing the top surface of a wooden floor to remove scratches and other visible signs of wear, freshening the surface up in preparation for a new finish. Whilst this sounds simple, the difference this creates for an old, worn floor can be striking, often looking like a brand new installation. Our team is frequently called into dated period properties, often still sporting their original floorboards, to freshen the rooms up when they change ownership. A freshly sanded and stained floor can give the whole room a new lease of life.

Whilst every company has its own preferences, there are typically three stages involved: preparation, sanding, and coating. Before starting, the entire floor needs to be thoroughly clean; swept, vacuumed and have all nails punched under. When restoring a hardwood floor, grit sequence is vital to get right. The first grit is the most abrasive and is meant to take off any existing finish, before using successively finer grits to smooth out the pattern of the previous, several times until the entire surface is perfectly smooth and free from marks. It’s vitally important to vacuum the floor after each sanding grit is changed to prevent unnecessary scratches, and again after the final grit to prepare the floor for a finish of your choice. Be very careful of walking on your unfinished floor at this stage as black rubber soled shoes can leave marks!

Finishing your wooden floor when it’s new or freshly sanded is hugely important, it acts as a barrier between the natural wood and everything it comes into contact with; foot traffic, pets, heavy furniture and other surface objects. It helps extend the floorboards life and helps keep your floor looking beautiful for longer. Wooden floors are generally finished off with either an Oil or Lacquer, with oil being the popular choice for lounges, dining rooms and bedrooms rooms; anywhere you’re looking to retain the natural look of the floorboards, and lacquer being better suited for busier environments that see more foot traffic, or areas that may get wet, such as kitchens, bathrooms or hallways. Traditionally, people think lacquer as having a varnished, glossy look, however modern lacquers are also available in ultra matt, matt, satin, and gloss, giving you much more choice and control over how your room will look.

If you’re worried about the suitability of your floor for sanding, don’t be! All types of wood can be sanded, from oak, pine and cork to parquet and more. Whether it’s a kitchen, bedroom, stairway, office, school hall or anything in between, sanding can breathe new life into an old, worn surface and freshen up the whole room as a result.

If you’d like to know more about floor sanding, or would like to discuss what we can do for you, feel free to contact us. Our team uses only the best equipment, able to reach all those awkward corners and angles that prove so elusive and were the first company in the UK to be trained by Lagler, so you know you’re in safe hands.


For any more help and advice please feel free to call us on 01962 733016, email info@alresfordinteriors.co.uk or pop into our workshop and we can get your flooring project off the ground today! 

Wood Flooring for Asthma and Allergies

More and more frequently we are being called into homes to fit wood flooring, or to strip out carpets and sand the existing floorboards when people within the household suffer with asthma or allergies.

Carpets acts as a reservoir for allergens that trigger asthma attacks and other allergic reactions. Wood floors are much easier to keep free of dust mites, pollen, pet dander (dead skin cells and pet hair) and other allergens, in fact, it essentially eradicates dust mites. Of course, it’s not realistic to expect to keep all allergens out of your home, but the installation of wood floors makes the task of getting rid of them considerably easier

A close up of dust mites living off the dirt in our carpets!

Wood floors are much easier than carpets to keep free of dust mites, pollen, dander (dead skin cells and pet hair) and other allergens, in fact, it essentially eradicates dust mites. Of course, it’s not realistic to expect to keep all allergens out of your home, but the installation of wood floors makes the task of getting rid of them considerably easier.

A simple vacuum and damp mop will suffice to keep your wood floors clear of dust and other allergens. A carpet will contain many more ‘nasties’, even after vacuuming, unless it is frequently steam cleaned. Even then it will have far more allergens within the pile than a wood floor ever will, the below photo demonstrates how particles travel down the carpet fibers. These tiny mites are too small to be seen with the naked eye and excrete waste products that cause allergic symptoms.

We frequently complete jobs for individuals and families whose asthma dramatically improves after the removal of carpet, and either a fresh sanding and finish of the existing floors, or the installation of an engineered wood floor.

That dust, dander and pollen will still end up on your floor with wood floors, only it won’t settle the same way as with carpet. They are just on the surface and are much easier to remove, keeping your living space free from the multiplying effect that occurs with carpet fibers.


For any more help and advice please feel free to call us on 01962 733016, email info@alresfordinteriors.co.uk or pop into our workshop and we can get your flooring project off the ground today! 

Gap Filling Wood Floors

Gap Filling Wood Floors

Probably the single biggest question we get asked is ‘how do you fill the gaps of my floor’?! It is also my single biggest frustration in terms of information that people have gathered from the internet. Many of these posts that people make are not from professionals or if they are they are giving bad advice that may look good when it is first done but won’t stand the test of time.

There are a number of different ways to fill the gaps between floorboards and other types of wood flooring. Some have better results than others depending on the application. Always bear in mind that wood is a natural product and is ‘hygroscopic’ it holds and releases moisture and therefore moves.

We have seen so many different ways in which people have filled gaps between floorboards. Everything from string and wax to concrete and just about anything and everything in between!

From years of experience in the business I am going to share with you the different types of filler that we use to fill between the gaps in all sorts of wood flooring.

I am going to try my best to keep this as short as possible as this is a subject I could get really carried away with and waffle on for pages. I would go as far to say that any other products apart from the ones I have listed are just not worth bothering with.

One of the most common floors that we sand on a daily basis is pine floors, particularly ones that are 100 + years old. These floors often have gaps and can be draughty. Remember if you have added any reclaimed pine floorboards into your wood floor make sure it has acclimatised before filling as this will affect the gap filling.

Ok so the products we use from day to day are Reclaimed pine slithers, Draughtex, Resin filler (mixed with fine dust) Gap master (Bona) and wax sticks.

Reclaimed pine Slithers 

Until fairly recently the best way to fill the gaps between floorboards was with reclaimed pine slithers. The slithers are cut on an angle to form a slight V shape and then glued and hammered in between the floorboards creating a blanket of pine right across the floor. This is an industry recognised way of gap filling however as I have stated above wood can and does move through the seasons. These slithers can crack away from the joints and splinter. It does vary from house to house how much these slithers move. Sometimes they have not moved at all but sometimes the movement is significant and can lead to frustration. It doesn’t matter how much glue is used or how well they have been hammered into place because it is wood, they can move.

DraughtEx

This is a relatively new product on the market and my personal favourite when filling the gaps between old pine floorboards. DraughtEx has been cleverly manufactured with thousands of concealed air pockets which allow the sealant to be compressed by almost 90% of its original profile. These flexible properties allow DraughtEx to be compressed into floorboard gaps much smaller than its original form by stretching it during the installation process. Once the floorboard filler is in the gap it will expand until it fills the width of the gap. Timber floors can contract and expand throughout the course of their life. These variations cause alternative floorboard sealants to become ineffective and loose and eventually drop out. DraughtEx will mimic the movement pattern of the timber and therefore remain in place retaining insulation and stopping draughts.

Another thing I really like about this product is that it mimics the natural shadow gap between the floorboards leaving the floor looking as natural as it was when laid but without the draughts. DraughtEx can also be fitted under the skirting boards.

DraughtEx is generally fitted after the floor has been re-finished but the beauty of this product is that it can be used as a quick fix to stop the draughts at any time.

Resin filler

This can be used for header joints (the point 2 boards meet at the ends) on pine floors but we mainly use it on old parquet that has gaps showing. When the floor is finely sanded, the dust from this process is mixed with the resin and used like a filling paste and in some cases the whole floor is trowel filled to ensure getting into every nook and cranny. This sharpens up the look of the floor leaving it gap free and much more pleasing to the eye. Resin is a great product as it dries very fast, its easily sanded and can be over coated with almost any finish blending in nicely with the surrounding wood.

Bona Gap master 

This is a silicone free floor gap filling mastic designed to fill gaps between parquet blocks, around skirting boards and door thresholds. Based on polyurethane and acrylate it contains no solvents is odourless and can be used with all parquet finishes It retains a high degree of flexibility. This is a good product as although it can be sanded it can just be applied and allowed to dry, It fills cracks nicely but can work out very expensive if there is a large amount of filling that needs to be done.

Wax sticks

These come into their own when spot repairing damaged areas where sanding is not required. They can be blended together to form knots with any excess taken off with a sharp Stanley blade. The amount of times these have been used when a builder has dropped something on a newly finished floor the dent has been disguised as a knot. When it has hardened wax stick fills are incredibly tough


For any more help and advice please feel free to call us on 01962 733016, email info@alresfordinteriors.co.uk or pop into our workshop and we can get your flooring project off the ground today! 

Luxury Wood Flooring

If you are looking to upgrade your existing property with a luxurious wood floor or you are building a new build home of your dreams, getting the flooring element right is an essential part of the overall success of the project. I’m sure you will have spent hours painstakingly going over the constructional details and looking at kitchen and bathroom ideas until you are blue in the face but all these investments can so quickly become undervalued when a poor decision is made with regards to a new wooden floor.

Wood flooring generally screams luxury and has done for 100’s of years and some of the best looking floors we have seen are hundreds of years old, improving with age and being truly classy.

It is frustrating the number of times I have seen samples in customers homes that they have been sent by flooring companies; samples that are not much bigger than a business card. You are never going to get a true reflection of what your floor is going to be like with a sample that size. For me, the bigger the better; you really want to give yourself a really good idea of what the floor is going to look like. Samples should be no less than 600 mm long and at least 2 boards wide. These sample boards can then be placed in different rooms and looked at in different lights to see how they work.

There are different factors that assists in giving the wood floor the luxury factor and some floors will just never really have a luxury look at all.

Thickness

As a general rule thick heavy boards equals quality. Heavy, thick flooring is usually a long lasting solution for your flooring choice often oozing quality and luxury. The main reason you may not opt for a thicker board is that if you are going to have underfloor heating. Some manufacturers recommend you have a thinner board as a thinner board will conduct the heat better. There is an argument however that once the floor is up-to heat it wont make much of a difference.

Grades of wood

Timber is a natural material with a great variation in appearance, knots, colour and grain patterns within one species. In order to separate hardwood flooring in to different groups a well defined wood flooring grading system was introduced.

Wooden floors are graded to enhance the natural beauty of each individual timber by taking in to consideration three following major factors:

– size and number of knots,

– colour variation,

– amount of sap present in the wood.

As you can imagine it is impossible to tell what a floor is going to look like going by a very small sample. For example if you have a small sample of a rustic floor it may not show any knots but in reality the floor will probably be very knotty.

Generally speaking the higher the number of knots, higher the sap content and the more variety in colour – the lower the grade of timber. Usually it is sufficient to grade a wood flooring into 3 grades – Prime, (Select , natural and character) and Rustic. Some manufacturers have different terms for these grades but essentially the wood will fall into one of the three categories.

Whether you are looking at engineered or solid wood flooring you will have the choice of one of the three different grades. With engineered wood flooring only the top layer or lamella will be affected by the grade of the wood. In the case of solid wood the entire board will be made up from that grade of wood.

Prime –  AB grade is the highest and most expensive of the 3 grades. It is cut from the heart (centre) of the tree and has little or no knots, these knots are normally only the size of pin heads. The grain is straighter and  more uniform and will generally have no sap wood. The cost is higher because of the limited supply of the raw material. Not a great deal of every tree cut contains prime wood compared to the other grades.

(Natural,select or Character) or ABC grade is the middle timber grade and shows more character than prime grade but less than the rustic grade. Timber can display more frequent knots, more variations in colour and texture and more grain pattern.

In this grade of flooring you can expect knots of up to 30 mm in diameter, flashes of colour, burrs and other character marks. Boards can display few small black knots. During the kiln drying process knots crack slightly. After initial sanding they are filled with a mixture of sawdust and resin before re-sanding and sealing. This grade is mid range in terms of price and fits well for people who don’t want the boards to be to plain looking and don’t want to many knots.

Rustic or ABCD grade. These floors offer the best value for money as the majority of trees contain all of the variations within this category. The wood can contain vibrant patterns, unlimited knots of various sizes, sap wood and heavy grain markings. There is normally a good variation of colour with filled knots and surface makings.  This grade will normally contain a real mix of all the grades with the emphasis being on rustic.

 Edges

Most wood flooring on the market today, no matter whether it’s engineered or solid has either bevelled or mico-bevelled edge. This is a process that notches a slight “v” when boards are placed edge to edge. This look is very attractive and is my favourite look as it gives good board definition. There is however another option, which tends to fall more at the luxury end of the scale, and that’s square edged boards.

Square edged boards are generally more expensive to produce and can be a fiddle to fit because they are more fragile and easily damaged. A square edged board, when professionally installed creates a completely uninterrupted and luxury look. Many people prefer this type of look but personally I find it a little fake looking.

Colour

This is a hugely personal choice as what one person sees as tasteful another won’t. The trend leads to either a very dark floor or very light floor having the most luxurious look. The property that the floor is going into also makes a huge difference for example putting a prime floor with a pale finish in a very old house probably won’t work. As a rule of thumb a floor that has been finished on site rather than pre-finished floor will look much more luxurious but this comes at a cost.

Whether you are looking for an engineered or solid wood floor, taking these things into account when making your final decisions will pay dividends. Having a wood floor is an investment and in most cases will add to the value of a home. Please do take your time making a decision and live with some some decent size samples before making your decision.  That way you can sit back, relax and enjoy your floor for years to come.


For any more help and advice please feel free to call us on 01962 733016, email info@alresfordinteriors.co.uk or pop into our workshop and we can get your flooring project off the ground today! 

5 Advantages of Oak flooring

Are you thinking about starting to refurbish your home? Maybe you are tired and frustrated with your current interior and want to update your flooring. Wooden flooring offers timeless style, beauty, warmth, character and if done right, value, to your home.

We have a large range of wood flooring on offer at our showroom in Alresford. These floors are available in a number of different styles and options to suit most budgets. We specialise in distressed, hand finished oak floors which come into their own in an older house and looks stunning. There are literally hundreds of colour choices available to suit all tastes and we can colour match to just about any colou

Out of all the wood flooring Oak is by far the most popular. Oak is a timeless classic and quintessentially English, hard wearing and easily takes finishes.

1) It offers great value for money. It is hard wearing, beautiful and will be enjoyed for years to come. It can be refinished as your tastes change. Unlike carpets, oak flooring doesn’t collect dust and dirt on the surface and can easily be cleaned – an ideal choice for people with allergies.

2) It is extremely durable. One of the reasons people choose oak flooring is because it is extremely hard wearing and durable. Used in the building trade for hundreds of years oak is well known for its durability. From the maintenance point of view there are various cleaning products available to keep the floor looking fresh. When it becomes dented and damaged it can be sanded down and refinished.

3) It has a beautiful, timeless appearance. This is due to the natural grain and colour of oak flooring. It will compliment most modern or traditional interiors. It takes colour stains and a host of different finishes well.

4) It ages well. Like good wine, oak flooring improves with age; the colour becomes richer making it mellow and settles into its environment. Unlike carpets which become shabby, oak flooring can be easily cleaned and re-finished.

5) It is a great natural insulator. Because it is organic in nature oak flooring doesn’t become cold to the touch like tiles or other hard floor coverings. This helps the house to retain its heat in the winter and keep it cool in the summer.

If you choose oak or any other species of wood flooring to enhance and add value to your home we have something to suit most tastes and budgets. From prime to rustic, lacquered to oiled, dark to light, we can help.

For any more help and advice please feel free to call us on 01962 733016, email info@alresfordinteriors.co.uk or pop into our workshop and we can get your flooring project off the ground today! 

Can I Sand & Refinish An Engineered Wood Floor?

A question we get asked a lot and a concern a lot of people have is ‘can engineered wood floors be sanded’?

Generally speaking people’s knowledge is much better than even a few years ago regarding the difference between laminates and engineered flooring. Laminate flooring is, simply put, a photo of wood, sealed onto a hardboard backing; an engineered floor is a solid piece of wood glued onto a ply base layer.

Just to be clear we are talking about engineered wood flooring here!

Engineered flooring comes either pre-finished or has a finish applied on the bare timber once the floor has been laid. We can provide our customers with both pre-finished and custom finish options.

Depending on where in the home the floor is laid and the amount of use the area has will depend on how long the floor looks good. Another important factor that often gets overlooked is how often the floor is cleaned. Cleaning with the recommended cleaner and not getting the wood too wet will keep the floor looking its best. For example, hallways and kitchens are often the areas that will begin to look shabby quickest.

Once the floor is past its best and no amount of cleaning can bring it back to life then the only alternative is to have the floor sanded and re-finished. This process removes all the old finish leaving the timber bare. Once the floor has been completely stripped it can then be stained if required and then sealed with a hard wax oil or lacquer.  This process completely transforms a room and if looked after properly, will last the homeowner for years to come.

As a general rule every time a floor is sanded you will lose about 1mm of the surface. Sometimes this can be more depending on how badly the floor is marked or damaged.

Most engineered floors have a wear layer of between 3 and 6mm with a backing of 15-21 mm; on this basis if you are looking at sanding a floor with a 3 mm wear layer it can be sanded up to twice and if it has a 6 mm wear layer it can be sanded up to 4 times. We always recommend erring on the side of caution as the last thing you want to do is sand through the wear layer!  This also depends on who is sanding the floor, so let’s say a floor has been really badly sanded the wear layer will be reduced quicker and the life expectancy of the floor will be less.

We always urge our customers to go for the thickest floor (wear layer) they can simply because the cost difference between a 3 mm and a 6 mm floor is not huge and the floor will theoretically last for a lot longer.

People are often put off by engineered wood flooring as they assume that it cannot be sanded as much as a solid wood floor. Assuming that both floors are tongue and grooved, which most floors are nowadays, then you can only sand down to the tongue (or just above it) so there is no discernible gain in the lifespan of a solid wood floor over an engineered floor.

For any more help and advice please feel free to call us on 01962 733016, email info@alresfordinteriors.co.uk or pop into our workshop and we can get your flooring project off the ground today! 

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