Let the wood be free…

let the wood be free sander sanding wooden floor timber rimu tawa

Let the wood be free…

There are a lot of beautiful things we take for granted in New Zealand. Our native timber is probably one of them.

Most houses built in New Zealand prior to the 1960s probably have a flooring base of rimu or tawa tongue-and-grove timber (or Kauri if you’re really lucky). Alas most old houses, for various reasons, probably have the beautiful grain and luster of these timbers hidden from view. The restoration of a native timber floor, especially in highly visible areas such as an entrance way or living area, can certainly provide some “wow” factor to your home. Here’s a few suggestions on how to go about restoring your timber floor.

  1. Prepare for dust

Despite the best available dust extraction technology on most sanding machines, there will still be dust. Mask off the house to try and reduce the migration of dust. Remember to always wear a dust mask while sanding.

  1. It’s all in the preparation

The quality of any repairs and all your sanding will have a direct effect on the quality of the finished job. If the floor is uneven or unstable, now is a good time to make some repairs to the bearers or support structure. Any repairs to the floor boards are best done using blocks of similar timber, shaped and fitted into the mosaic of the floor. Remember to punch any nails well below the surface of the floor to that they don’t appear as shiny little beads of light in the final polyurethaned floor.

  1. Sanding

You’ll probably need three different types of sanders: a large rotary drum sander, an edging sander and a sander for cleaning up corners. (We have both the large drum sander and edger sander available for hire )

Corners are always tricky. Removing paint or old varnish from corners is often achieved with a sharp chisel held perpendicular to the timber and drawing it back from the corner. Some coarse sand paper and elbow grease often finishes off the job.

The edging sander is designed to operate adjacent to the skirting board, so take your time and let the machine do the work.

The drum sander should be used with coarse sand paper and then finished with finer sand paper. If paint is difficult to remove from the floor boards, try operating the machine at 45° to the grain.

Please also remember that these sanders draw a high electrical current, especially during start-up, so try and use as short an electrical lead as possible, to minimise voltage drop and increase in amperage.

  1. Clean thoroughly

A decent vacuum will remove most of the dust, but the best finish is achieved by wiping the timber with a clean cloth containing some mineral turpentine.


A restored floor can provide a striking feature to your home. If good timber lurks below, it would be a shame to keep it hidden.

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