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alex_scotland

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Hi all. I was hoping to get a bit of advice regarding flooring in my new home. We were originally planning to replace completely, but have been a little surprised by prices, so now looking for possible budget friendly options. My main question is if the floor is engineered wood or laminate. I'm guessing that it's engineered wood, but not certain as I've only had original solid wood floorboards in the past. The floor is pretty worn, dark and glossy, so we were wondering if there'd be any chance that we could sand back and treat with a clear matt varnish. The pics I have available aren't great but have included a shot to show the cross-section where visible, along with a bit that I've gone at with abrasive paper to see what happens (currently hidden under a rug!). The floor seems to be flat throughout. Any advice appreciated! Thanks

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highup

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I'm not the guy that can best answer your questions but I'll ask a couple anyway that may help.
I'm guessing it's a engineered floor, meaning manufactured like plywood. It looks to be fairly thick if I'm seeing the image correctly.
Do you know if the wood is floating or nailed down?
 

alex_scotland

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I'm not the guy that can best answer your questions but I'll ask a couple anyway that may help.
I'm guessing it's a engineered floor, meaning manufactured like plywood. It looks to be fairly thick if I'm seeing the image correctly.
Do you know if the wood is floating or nailed down?
Thanks for your reply. It's about 14mm thick in total. It's pretty tough to get an accurate measurement for the darker layer at the top but I'd say it's about .15mm. When sanding, there seemed to be a thin layer of lacquer on the top to reveal the more natural shown in the pic. The cross section makes the dark layer look much thicker however.

I'm afraid that I'm not sure if it's nailed down or floating, but I cannot see any sign of nails. I can barely see any joins throughout either! It's laid directly over the original floorboards. I hope this helps...
 

C.J.

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Anything can be sanded if you have the time. 😁

Is your floor nice n flat like the day it was laid? If so then you could rent an orbital buffer or even a square buff machine from HD and go to town being careful to not sand through the face layer. Both those pieces of equipment are fairly non aggressive and would be what I would think to use on an engineered floor resand. You got to have a pretty damn flat floor to be able to pull that one off though.

Don’t think you would want a big machine on that thin of a top layer of an engineered floor.

Now if your floor is like a lot of floors out there, not perfectly flat, then the bigger pieces of equipment won’t get you to the finish line without burning through somewhere. Maybe you gotta put in the time with a palm sander? The whole floor or just sections if you’re lucky. Not a lot of fun but it can be done.

Is this a DIY job you’re thinking of doing?
 

alex_scotland

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Anything can be sanded if you have the time. 😁

Is your floor nice n flat like the day it was laid? If so then you could rent an orbital buffer or even a square buff machine from HD and go to town being careful to not sand through the face layer. Both those pieces of equipment are fairly non aggressive and would be what I would think to use on an engineered floor resand. You got to have a pretty damn flat floor to be able to pull that one off though.

Don’t think you would want a big machine on that thin of a top layer of an engineered floor.

Now if your floor is like a lot of floors out there, not perfectly flat, then the bigger pieces of equipment won’t get you to the finish line without burning through somewhere. Maybe you gotta put in the time with a palm sander? The whole floor or just sections if you’re lucky. Not a lot of fun but it can be done.

Is this a DIY job you’re thinking of doing?
Thanks C.J., that's very helpful. Surely laminate can't be sanded to look okay though..? Is there any chance it could in fact be laminate with a layer or two of varnish over it or is it most likely engineered wood..? I realise it's hard to know for certain from the images.

I went at the same spot a little more briefly to reveal a bit more area and seems to come up pretty well. The only thing that look a bit odd are the lighter lines that run vertically throughout, almost like little cracks. I wouldn't want to risk sanding these out completely in case of going too far through, but is this fairly normal?

I've no idea how old the floor is or what's been done to it, since we're new in the property, but it is actually really flat which is good. Because of the dark varnish it appears as though it's just one solid sheet as it's really difficult to make out the joins, although you can just about see when looking closely. What you say about using a smaller sander sounds good and have been able to take this varnish layer off pretty each with just some abrasive paper by hand.

We have solid wood flooring in most of the other rooms which we're going to have done professionally eventually, but tempted to tackle this one myself if possible.
 

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JPfloor

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You’re correct, laminate can’t be sanded. From what I can see in the pictures, based on the way the stain has adhered to the grain of the wood, It appears to be engineered wood. It should be easy enough to tell just by tapping on it. Plastic vs wood.

Engineered wood can vary in the thickness of the wear layer. Perhaps in an inconspicuous area (closet or under baseboard) you can cut away or drill a hole to better determine the thickness. At least then you’ll know what you’re dealing with to an extent. Seeing how it’s already been refinished at least once, the thickness may vary.

All of CJ’s advice is sound. If you doing it yourself go slow…
 
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alex_scotland

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You’re correct, laminate can’t be sanded. From what I can see in the pictures, based on the way the stain has adhered to the grain of the wood, It appears to be engineered wood. It should be easy enough to tell just by tapping on it. Plastic vs wood.

Engineered wood can vary in the thickness of the wear layer. Perhaps in an inconspicuous area (closet or under baseboard) you can cut away or drill a hole to better determine the thickness. At least then you’ll know what you’re dealing with to an extent. Seeing how it’s already been refinished at least once, the thickness may vary.

All of CJ’s advice is sound. If you doing it yourself go slow…
Yeah, it sounds like wood, well definitely not like plastic anyway.

Good point about the varying thicknesses. It seems to be around 1.5mm (no more) in places that I can see, so seems consistent.

I think I'll just have a go at it, taking it easy with an orbital sander. If there are any surprises, we can always revert to the original plan of ripping it out, but feeling hopeful.

Thanks for everybody's help!
 

C.J.

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I don’t see too many engineered floors that get resanded. I wonder if the previous owners tried to use something like Rejuvenate or some other kind of top coating product to make that floor look a little better without having to sand it cus that finish looks like it’s chipping and peeling a little too easy.

Looking at the photo, the white is from the original finish being scuffed but not completely removed and you can see there is another layer of finish on top of that that is chipping and peeling. prolly cus the last owners were in the same position that you are now and decided to just try and top coat over what they had to make it look better (so they could sell the house)? You can still sand the floor but that additional layer of goop will just mean you’ll possibly gum up more sanding discs. No biggie, just plan for it and buy plenty of sanding discs.

I’m all for you sanding your floor but let’s talk about dust. Yeah a palm sander has that little dust bag but let’s step things up a bit. How about a shop vac with a vacuum bag in it that is then hooked up to your palm sander. Even better would be a HEPA vac but that’s not necessarily in everybody’s budget. What about an air scrubber or a HEPA filter in the room, that will help as well. Don’t forget to turn off your HVAC while sanding and change the filters when you’re done. Prolly not a bad idea to cover things during the process. Throw some sheets or some plastic over top of anything that you care about not getting dirty.
 

C.J.

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This was when I sanded my countertops. Dust collection hooked up directly to the sanders and I have extra long hoses so the vacuums themselves are outside.

You married? You like being happy? Rent or buy an air scrubber for the duration of the project.

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alex_scotland

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I don’t see too many engineered floors that get resanded. I wonder if the previous owners tried to use something like Rejuvenate or some other kind of top coating product to make that floor look a little better without having to sand it cus that finish looks like it’s chipping and peeling a little too easy.

Looking at the photo, the white is from the original finish being scuffed but not completely removed and you can see there is another layer of finish on top of that that is chipping and peeling. prolly cus the last owners were in the same position that you are now and decided to just try and top coat over what they had to make it look better (so they could sell the house)? You can still sand the floor but that additional layer of goop will just mean you’ll possibly gum up more sanding discs. No biggie, just plan for it and buy plenty of sanding discs.

I’m all for you sanding your floor but let’s talk about dust. Yeah a palm sander has that little dust bag but let’s step things up a bit. How about a shop vac with a vacuum bag in it that is then hooked up to your palm sander. Even better would be a HEPA vac but that’s not necessarily in everybody’s budget. What about an air scrubber or a HEPA filter in the room, that will help as well. Don’t forget to turn off your HVAC while sanding and change the filters when you’re done. Prolly not a bad idea to cover things during the process. Throw some sheets or some plastic over top of anything that you care about not getting dirty.
Yeah, I hear you and appreciate the encouragement. I can potentially get my hands on an orbital sander at no charge, but realise that I'll be creating a huge mess. I thought I'd just embrace the chaos but will look into what else I can get my hands on. Might get a pro to give me a quote also out of curiousity. My main concern was putting time and effort into trying to sort something with zero potential (i.e. laminate), but it seems as though it's worth the effort to at least try.
 

highup

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If you have a closet, that's the best place to much something up.... I mean experiment. 😉
Sliding a small, strong magnet down the board seams will tell you if the planks are stapled or nailed.
 

Tile Tom

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Yeah, I hear you and appreciate the encouragement. I can potentially get my hands on an orbital sander at no charge, but realise that I'll be creating a huge mess. I thought I'd just embrace the chaos but will look into what else I can get my hands on. Might get a pro to give me a quote also out of curiousity. My main concern was putting time and effort into trying to sort something with zero potential (i.e. laminate), but it seems as though it's worth the effort to at least try.

Don't call any pros out for an estimate unless you are seriously planning to use their services. Nobody appreciates having their time wasted.

And to be honest, if you were to find someone to give you a quote to do that I would be very sceptical. No pro in their right mind would take on a job like that. Engineered hardwood is not meant to be refinished. Their equipment is made for solid hardwood. It would eat right through the 1/16"-1/8" later of actual hardwood you have in that floor. Any pro would tell you to just replace it if you don't DIY

I'm not saying it can't be done but this is a total DIY project. Like said above, light duty sanders and lots of elbow grease and time.
 

highup

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Engineered can be screened—- that’s about it
On the bright side, they don't cup and warp like solid wood, so light sanding tho time consuming, should be easier for the DIYers with a lot less risk.
 

Chuck Coffer

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Geez. Take Fein tool and cut off a piece at the wall. Then you will at least know what you have to work with. Many engineered products have a 1mm veneer. You ain't sanding that. You can't even screen it because one high corner and you need a new floor. Then again, some have thicker veneers. The lousiest way to find out is with a sander.
 

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