How to sand wooden floorboards yourself – DIY Guide!

How to sand floorboards

If you have been following for a while, you already know that I’m no stranger to painting: walls, tables, chairs, you name it… For some time I was even seriously thinking about naming this blog THE PAINTED HOUSE! In the end I named one of the pages IN MY PAINTED HOUSE, and that’s where you can take an exclusive tour of my very own little house (go on, have a nosey around, I’ll wait right here for you!).

So, I guess there’s no surprise if I say that I  have also painted the floors in our house (upstairs only), but I have only done it recently… Well, actually I painted two rooms, the landing and our little utility/linen room’s floors about six months ago. For logistic reasons we left our bedroom floor until …  last week. We didn’t plan to leave it for so long but , hey, there’s a life to live and lots of other projects happened as well (like this blog!). So finally ready with one weekend to spare and some good experience from a few months ago  I (or actually this time I’m going to use a term WE!!!), we tackled the floor in our bedroom. 

So, if you’re planning to do the same in your house but you’re not sure if you can do it yourself, well… YES, YOU CAN!!! You can most definitely sand and finish wooden floorboards yourself! And you can do it all in just one weekend!

Before WE (see, I’m not taking the whole credit for myself) started the first time I did a lot of research about sanding the floorboards and read some horrible stories how difficult, dirty, dusty, noisy and very time-consuming it is. And yes, it is noisy and dusty, but that’s it! It’s not very time-consuming, and most certainly it is not difficult. So if you’re considering doing floors in your house, don’t read the same stories I did, just read my story and stay positive, because it is very straight forward!

And here it is, our story of sanding the floors, painting, finishing and everything you need to know to do it yourself!

Firstly you need to hire a floor sander. They’re big and heavy and make your ears really suffer, but they also do most of the job for you, so you’ve gotta love them! Hiring a floor sander isn’t as expensive as you might think. The first time we did our floors (two rooms, utility and the landing) we had the machine for the whole weekend and we paid about £40 plus you need to pay for the sanding paper and the dust bags as well so the total was just under £60. As we were doing only one room this time we needed the floor sander for one day only but actually finished with it within a couple of hours. And we paid £30 in total! If you happen to live in Nottingham, that’s where we hired the machine from, otherwise you can just simply Google the words “hire floor sander”, add your town and I’m sure you’ll find lots of companies that do it (just remember to compare the prices because they  vary from provider to provider).


You need to remember that you will also need to hire a floor edging sander to use in the corners and all the places that are less accessible. As we had a palm sander in the house we decided to use it instead and saved few pennies (although the floor edging sanders are much quicker and easier to work with). If you want to get yourself an electric palm sander, they’re not very expensive and you can use them for other projects around the house so it might be worth investing in  (from £16 or £31 with all the accessories in Argos).


Now, with the floors prepared and (ideally) the room empty (we left the wardrobe which we had to move half way through), you can turn your beast on and get started. As the floor sanders are bulky and heavy I actually sat down for that part and let Rob take over (that’s a first for me!) and rejoined for the next part. And that was about two and a half hours later including the edges and the corners so not too bad, huh?

He started with the big machine first, sanding with the grain of the wood and then he moved to sanding the edges with the palm sander (which was actually bit more of a  daunting task). He used a really coarse sanding paper and he stopped at that but I would recommend changing to a less coarse paper for smoothing out the floors before painting (because he didn’t do it our bedroom’s floor is a bit more rough in texture).  There is no science to sanding floorboards, you don’t need any experience, all you need is a sturdy hand (Rob’s got it) and a bit of patience (only I’ve got it hence the rough floor).

I’m sorry there’s no photos of Rob sanding the floors, I’m not being mean! He was simply too quick! By the time I came back with the kids from a walk it was all done and dusted…hahaha, literally! (apparently the bag exploded so remember to change your bags!)


Clean your floors properly with the vacuum cleaner, making sure you suck up all the dirt from the gaps in between the floorboards otherwise it will make your next step a nightmare.


And now the part where I stepped in. Painting comes quite naturally to me, it’s kind of relaxing and I always enjoy every minute of it. It’s my “me time” (I know that sounds very boring of me, but I promise – I enjoy other things too). I chose white paint as that’s how we painted the other rooms. Although I didn’t want to just paint over our beautiful freshly sanded floorboards. I wanted the grain of the wood to be visible. If you want the same effect in your house just MIX WHITE FLOOR PAINT WITH CLEAR FLOOR VARNISH in proportion 1:1 or 1:2, depending on how much coverage you want. The paints mix together very easily so you shouldn’t have any problems with that. I used B&Q paint and varnish as after my latest accident with the paint I decided to buy the cheapest one (you can read about that little accident here).


So starting in the corner of the room (the one opposite the door!) make your way with the brush, painting a floorboard after floorboard with gentle yet confident strokes (with the direction of the grain of the wood). Make sure you are happy with the colour remembering there will be another coat of paint on top of it, which means the end result will be darker and deeper. You want your first coat of paint to look something like this:


You can paint your floors with a roller instead of a brush but you have to remember about couple of things. Firstly – if your floorboards have quite big gaps between them (like most of the old houses) you will end up with quite a lot of paint sticking in between them, making it look a bit messy and frankly speaking, not how you would wanted your original floorboards to look like. Secondly – as the rollers take in more paint you will end up using probably twice as much paint as opposed to using a brush. And lastly for the same reason you can almost forget about seeing the grain of the wood (unless you have an eagle eye). But if you are planning on painting your floorboards just white, black or any other colour without diluting the paint, you can most certainly use a roller and you will probably save yourself  quite a lot of time. So the choice is yours!


When your first coat of paint is completely dry (after about two hours in good ventilated rooms) you can start with your second coat (which should be your last one so try to be very accurate). Again starting in the same corner as the last time paint your floorboards with the grain of the wood. And that’s it! Wait until it’s completely dry before inspecting it and wait for about 12 to 24 hours before moving the furniture back in (I’m very impatient so I didn’t wait that long and it was still fine).


So what was the total cost for sanding the floors and painting them?

We used one tin of paint and one tin of varnish for all of the rooms (but it depends on how big your rooms are). So that’s anything from £55. Then we paid £60 for the machine and the accessories the first time we hired it and another £30 second time round (but it can be done in one go if you are a much better at planning than we are). And then the cost of the palm sander, if you decide to buy it is around £25.  And that gives a total of £140 or £170 and one weekend (or two if you’re more like us) of your life. Not bad huh?

So me being me, I decided to change few things in the bedroom at the same time and sold our bed on Ebay (currently sleeping on the mattress only). I’m on the look out for a new bed (well, actually not new because I’m looking on Ebay mainly) so that I can make myself a headboard I’ve been dreaming about for so long (stay tuned or subscribe to my mailing list if you don’t want to miss it!). I also moved few things around and treated my new floor with a zebra rug from Ikea (not a real one obviously, I’m an absolute animal lover!). So it looks like an accidental mini makeover is under way! And for me it’s like a honey for the Pooh Bear!

How to sand and paint floorboards yourself

Are you planning on sanding the floorboards yourself? Let me know how you’ve got on…














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  • Reply
    March 21, 2017 at 9:44 pm

    Thank you Caroline. The zebra rug was on my wish list for some time so when is a better time than now – with the new floor? : ) And it was only £25!

  • Reply
    Caroline {Girl about townhouse}
    March 21, 2017 at 9:37 pm

    These look fantastic Anne Marie and a really helpful explanation too! Loving the Ikea zebra print rug.

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