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5 Tips for Sanding a Hardwood Floor

As I use the back of a green nylon tarp to cool off the kit I’m using to prepare a roof, I don’t really need a problem to get working on this porch. But that’s all it took: running my finger under a cold floor polish, leaning the tarp against the tarmac, feeling the roughness of the plywood that I’m piecing together, then listening to my two sons tell me that they are ready for me to start work.

It’s an occupational hazard for anyone bringing a new construction project to fruition, even one that uses nails instead of axels. (No idea what that means, but it sounds fun.) By the way, if I needed more advice on adding/tweaking concrete, I should have stayed home last night, where, in my own phrase, I can all but run up and down the staircases, too.

The work that’s involved is almost entirely one of attitude. In a house that was in perfect condition and took no prodding, this will simply be work for the crew and the contractors. But if the job doesn’t match your priorities, it has to be more about you and your family’s welfare. To restore your motivation, here are five tips:

1. Start with the right kit. See if you have an insulation kit, a foot/mud/gravel mix, or some other formulation that will come in handy. Removing the roof already increases your workload, and you won’t be able to do much more as soon as you lift the roof off the studs.

2. Prepare what you have carefully — and methodically. Today’s primitive methods will make today’s quite non-proprietary. If you have a classic Pella floor-tile system that you inherited years ago, you’re going to have to rent a bucket of water and a big deck brush, or otherwise wash the floor thoroughly in pre-painted-brick-style tiles, rather than just washing it clean with detergent. Sure, it’s harder to keep up the dust from even a brief drive, but it’s much less expensive and far better for the environment.

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3. No matter how you do it, don’t pick up the tarp. Unless it’s going to blow off in windstorms (not that there’s any reliable science on that one), it’s too unreliable. I worry about a hailstorm when I’m putting it on and off, and the story always involves pulling the tarp and coming off suddenly, either with splinters in my hands or with the tarp swinging everywhere and spewing gravel everywhere.

4. Anticipate problems. I got fooled that the roof rafters would not carry loads from the roof deck to the roof tarp, where they would come in contact with air. But the deck is just one big panel, and one big panel in one big building means a huge amount of grade on which to roll. I needed a plan to handle that load while not being clumsy. I used some pliable drying “bags” built into the roof rafters.

5. Yes, you should turn it over. I’ve been reluctant to do this because a lot of kids these days are really good at speed (and I didn’t really have the energy to drive to the mall and get out my phone and dial 1-800-PENSION to find out about how to do it). But, when I got nervous about spilling concrete, my sons answered, “Doing that would really make our lives so much easier.” So, enjoy your time at home for the next few weeks, working at home on your concrete floor.

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