Friday 18 January 2013

A Magic Varnishing Act

One lesson I have learned about taking so darned long renovating a house is that before we finish a room we have to re-do something.

Today's project in question is the living-room floor. We hired one of those giant floor sanders from HSS last December to sand it down and get it varnished.

But we never finished it, something else always distracts us comes up. We poured a concrete hearth, and tiled it, we brought in countless materials, clattered through the living-room with muddy boots. The poor floor was in a terrible state.

Everything goes through our livingroom, it is the only way into or through the house.

So the whole floor needed the sanding finished and the varnish topped up... some bits needed more attention than others.

Case in point- The big hire machine only gets so close, you need to finish with an edging sander or a belt sander.
I had the day to myself, so started work at the crack of noon... as one does.

My to-do list:

  • Clear the floor
  • Clean the floor (on hands and knees with a damp cloth)
  • Sand edges with belt sander
  • Sand entire floor surface with orbital sander (making sure I sand down any markings or stains)
  • Hoover 
  • Clean floor with dust mop
  • Clean floor with white spirit
  • Leave to dry 
  • Varnish floor - painting myself out of the room and into the kitchen
  • Leave to dry before walking across it to go to bed

The whole room has to be out of bounds for the rest of the family while I am working, to keep them out of the dust and to keep the naked floor as clean as possible. This can only be done when they are not here.

Sanding in the understairs cupboard - bit of a tight squeeze.
As you can maybe see here, we still have no electrics in the living-room, hence empty wall-socket and the need for me to use an extension cable, lamps and a head-torch

Orbital sander to key the whole floor, even the bits that look OK.
I work from the furthest away wall, 3 planks at a time, with my back to the door. This way you don't loose track of what's done and you end up out of the room. Always a bonus.

Cleaning with white spirit
Paper towels avoid washing white spirit into the septic tank when cleaning up.
We use Ronseal Floor Varnish, we're reasonably happy with the results in the low traffic areas of the house where we have used it but I recommend using at least 6 coats, not just the 3 it says on the tin.
I finished varnishing at 11pm
My hands are covered in blisters and my knees will never be the same again... and I've got 3 more coats to do tomorrow. #suchfun

Time for a well earned midnight snack.

yes! that whole pint of cream was well earned thankyou very much...
there is a mince pie under there somewhere - yum!

The Nitty Gritty:


  1. We did one floor a while back and I said then that it was worth every penny to get someone else to do it next time :) The big sander was fine- it was all those edges that killed us.

    Then we moved and now there is a houseful of floors to start again. ummmmm I think the experts can do this lot!

    viv in nz

    ps that pie looks yummy!!!

    1. We've still got 2 bedrooms and the bathroom to do.. and the kitchen needs re-done too.

      I don't mind the edges too much, it was more the having to go over the whole floor - a job that should have been finished already.

      Still it looks great now :)

  2. Now I'm terrified being in the same competition with you *L* Very impressive, and that pie is more than well deserved ;o)

    1. You will notice of course, I'm not getting any further on those stairs... and now I have virtually no kneecaps.

      I think you still have the upper-hand


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