All images on this site are of floors restored and photographed by Peter Weller and are therefore copyrighted.



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 I want my floor sanded and I'm having a room decorated as well. Which should I do first?Decorate first. In fact any major work like plumbing or wiring should be carried out before the floor is sanded. The sanding process can cause a few scuffs to the skirting board but touching these up after the sanding will not harm your floor and is an easy task.

How long will the room be out of action while the floor is being done? A room measuring 10ft by 12ft (3 by 4 metres) would take about 2 days to sand and varnish, using a water based varnish, plus a further 2 to 3 days for the varnish to cure properly before placing furniture.

How should I maintain my floor? Everyday dirt and grit will eventually wear away the finish. Even pet hair has been found to be abrasive. Vacuum or sweep regularly. Invest in a good door mat and try to get into the habit of removing street shoes when entering the house.

should I have the gaps between the boards filled?We would recommend filling the gaps in ground floor rooms and hallways as there could be a cold draft. In kitchens and bathrooms gap filling is recommended as a protection against spillage. We do not recommend wood fillers that are available in high street shops as they tend to shrink and eventually fall through or even get sucked out of the gaps with the vacuum cleaner. If you do use a filler we recommend lecol which is a professional filler. Peter fills the gaps with MDF strips which he feels gives a much nicer finish than wood strips.
The download or the interactive DVD will give you more information on this subject, it shows you all you need to know.  
More about gap filling here.
The floor in the picture below has had the gaps filled with MDF strips

I would like my floor to have a stain. Is this something I could do myself?This is a job we would not recommend you undertake if you are a complete novice, Peter has stained hundreds of floors and knows how much skill you need to tackle this job. He has also seen a lot of floors that have been badly stained and it's not a pretty picture. When a floor is stained well it has a beautiful even colour with depth to it. Stained badly and it can look patchy and dull with a dirty appearance. If you decide to get a floor sanding company to do the staining, make sure you can see a floor they have stained recently. Make an appointment to go and see the floor if you can. If they haven't stained a floor before but tell you it will be a push over then it's time to look for some one else. If you feel you really want to try this yourself, it might help to read the emails we have received from customers about this subject. Peters answers might be of help to you.


How do I calculate how much varnish I will need to buy for my floor if I sand it myself and which varnish should I use? There's a whole page devoted to this question so follow the link to have your question answered. CLICK HERE

Should I use reclaimed boards to replace badly damaged boards. No, we do not recommend using reclaimed boards. They usually come from industrial sites and are actually thicker than the pine boards used in houses. They are also pre sanded which brings them up very pale and looking like brand new boards. We recommend using old floor boards from houses un cleaned, and not sanded.

Can you
show me how to sand a floor and fill the gaps myself and get the same results you do? Yes, we have two teaching films with Peter giving a step by step demonstration on pine flooring.You can download both films separately straight from the internet for £2.50each. With each film giving 15-20 minutes of instructions, 40-45 minutes of film in all, they are a comprehensive learning tool. That's£5 that has saved many people hundreds. There is also a DVD if you prefer a hard copy. Topics covered in the learning  films :
Preparing boards prior to sanding.
Machines: use, health and safety.
Dry run of techniques.
See the floor actually sanded from start to finish and learn how to avoid common mistakes that can  often lead to a disappointing finish.
Points to be aware of and watch out for, including those possible plumbing disasters.

Black edging
This can be very difficult to remove and you can end up using many expensive sanding sheets. With Peters technique you will easily remove the black edging that used to be applied to so many older houses.You need to see this technique demonstrated to understand it fully.
Varnishing techniques.
What to use and how to use it. Tools needed for the job. Plus the chance to see it actually done.
Filling the gaps.
Peter demonstrates three methods and shows minor restorations. One of these methods uses power tools. Step by step demonstration shown, along with safety measures and health awareness.


If you need help/advice that can't be found already on this site check out our advisory service, we cover all wooden floor types and staining for this service. personal one to one advisory service

My floor boards look such a mess. Can anything be done with them or would it be better to just buy and lay new wooden
flooring? In the vast majority of cases floors look a mess when you pull back the carpet. Dirt and paint are all removed during sanding and damaged boards can be repaired or replaced. Most houses other than some brand new houses have wooden floor boards which look great when sanded. NOTE Flat owners should check their leases before committing themselves to sanded floors.

If you decide for some reason that you want to have a brand new floor then do check first that the flooring you are buying comes from an environmentally friendly source.
Choices we make about the timber we buy have a direct impact not just on the forests of the world, but also the people and wildlife who live in them. When buying timber or paper products , make sure they are recycled or look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) label - the only label that guarantees environmentally responsible and socially just forest management. Go to our links page to find UK outlets where you can buy FSC wood.


BBC NEWS LINK. UK criticised over illegal timber

Globally, the illegal trading in wildlife, timber and other natural resources is now surpassed only by the trafficking in drugs and weapons. And criminal elements involved in conventional forms of organized crime are often linked to this illegal trade in wildlife and timber. FIND OUT MORE

Take Action: Ask your MP to support new illegal logging legislation, click on the link below. Unbelievably, there are no laws in place that outlaw the importation of illegal timber into Europe, an illegal trade worth 3 billion Euros a year. WWF estimates that the UK is the largest importer in Europe. Stopping the tidal wave of illegal timber that floods into Europe, and the UK, is a vital step towards saving our forests. Take Action today

A member of my family has asthma, will it be better to have hard floors.
Yes, dust mites are responsible for many allergies and need carpets and soft furnishings to live in. Floor boards are ideal for asthma sufferers because they can be easily cleaned and rugs can be washed and hung out to dry in the sun which kills dust mites. Dust mites are invisible to the naked eye, but just in case you would like to see what one looks like under a microscope...............................

For more information on this issue go to the healthy flooring network

How long will my new floor last?The factors that govern the life of the floor are down to the amount of traffic it's subjected to and how well it's maintained. As an example, a seldom cleaned kitchen floor, in a large household with perhaps a couple of dogs, may last only 2-3 years. The same floor, properly maintained in a household of 1-2 people, may last up to 10 years or even more.

Cleaning & Maintenance: Vacuum or sweep regularly as dust and dirt act as an abrasive. Clean your sanded floor with a dampened mop or cloth using clean water only. For stubborn marks use a little washing-up liquid or specialized wooden floor cleaner. Avoid using household cleaning products as some contain abrasives or bleach

Below are specific questions that you have emailed to us. We hope that many of you will find our reply of interest and useful.

Hello Peter
I have a couple of questions I need to ask as this is my first attempt at sanding as I cant afford to have it done  professionally. Firstly I've read somewhere that the best sanders are belt sanders but having rung several hire places in my area (gloucester) from the yellow pages they all seem to have drum sanders .Why is this & will I get an inferior finish ?Secondly I have had to replace some of the old pine floor boards with other older pine floor boards from a reclamation yard. As I don't particularly like the orangey pine look I intend to stain the floor but is this going to be tricky with different boards?By the way your information that I've down loaded from your site  will be very helpful, its great to find such good professional help on the internet Thanking you, Yvonne

Hi Yvonne,
A drum sander is fine for your needs. It's what I, and the vast majority of floor sanders use all the time. Belt sanders are lovely machines but they are used to sand a large area such as a sports hall floor where the finish is critical.
Having a mixture of boards should not affect the staining. The only time it can be a problem is when you have new boards, which are almost white, mixed in with old.
Hope this helps. Kind regards. Peter

Dear Peter, I have purchased and downloaded the sanding video which will help me greatly as the professional wooden flooring companies in the Midlands didn't strike me as that professional after my initial dealings with them so I'm going to take it upon myself to do the job!
I just wanted to ask if this also applies for re-varnishing worn varnished wood floors too which is what I am going to do? I'm guessing I wouldn't need to level as they should already be leveled or is it best not to assume? Also in the video you are instructed to sand down after the first coat. Then at end when it's listing all the tools the woman mentions the sander for sanding between coats, which sounds like it implies to sand after each coat rather than just the first. Could you please clarify this?
Many Thanks Stef
Hi Stef, To re-sand a floor I'd suggest you start with medium sheet and go along the boards. After a few boards you should have a idea as to how flat they are and whether they will need leveling. If a floor has been badly sanded and varnished then sometimes it's as quick to start again and level it as in the video, but start with the medium and then make a judgment. Its important to get rid of all traces of the old varnish otherwise it shows up as patches when you varnish the floor again.
You should just check how thick the boards are. If they are less than 10mm then think twice before sanding again.

Rub down after 1st coat and apply the 2nd. If the 3rd coat goes down within 2-4 hours of the 2nd, then no need to rubdown.The 2 coats will bond chemically.If there is along gap between coats, say overnight, then you must rub down to give a 'key' for the next coat.
Hope this makes sense and good luck with your floor.
Kind regards Peter

Peter, Many many thanks for taking your time in replying, I believe people like you are now in the minority.
Just one more thing (to paraphrase the great detective Lt Colombo), I may decide to stain the floor (because it is already stained), does the staining come before varnishing? I am very new to this so forgive me if the question appears a little simple. And if I do decide to stain I shall most likely take your advice and get in a professional (if I can find a good one in my area that is!) It's a shame you don't operate around these parts. Kind Regards Stefan
Hi Stefan, Stain is applied to the bare wood before varnishing. If you intend to stain then you should take extra care during the sanding and ensure the floor has been sanded to an overall smooth finish. Use a 100 grit as the last sand on the drum sander and 80 grit on the edger.
Stain is very un-forgiving and is absorbed more by rough areas (goes darker) than smooth. This is most evident where the edger has been used and can result in dark swirl marks left by a coarse disc on the edger. At the end of sanding make a close inspection of the floor looking for imperfections. This is your last chance to get it right as the stain will find them, but by then its too late and you will just have to live with it. Just one more thing. Good luck with your floor and let me know how it went. Kind regards Peter
Hi Peter, Great advice, I will not hesitate to recommend you to anyone thinking of getting their floors done (in the London aread that a I have friends down there). Many Thanks and I will let you know how it goes and contact you with pictures. Stefan

HI Peter, Please could you advise on the removal of old wood filler between floor boards, as this has cracked and fallen out in many place's and has become very drafty, I have try various methods of removal ie chisels and sand paper but this seem's to be very time consuming with very little result's. I understand boat builder's use a tool when laying new decking to obtain an even gap between each board is this an option ? I would appreciate your thoughts and advice. Many thanks Steve smith.
Hi steve,The tool I find most effective is this hand saw, a Stanley FatMax jab saw or similar. Click on the link below to see a picture of it.
The one in the picture I can get from my local Homebase.
Please note, there is a very real danger of damaging a pipe or cable under the floor when using this tool.

Hope this helps

Dear Lynne/Peter, I hope you don't mind this email, but we really need some advice. We have 2 issues that we need clarity on that weren't provided on your excellent sanding dvd!
1. Sanding a narrow hall: Leveling the boards using the right angled approach you demonstrated worked really well for the living room, but hasn't worked in the hall because it's narrow to use the drum sander in this way. We've tried various variations with no real joy, and so started to use the edge sander with mixed results (not very good). How do you normally sand narrow halls?
2. Staining a floor: We are looking for an antique pine stain as the floor is made up of 1970's pine boards with some new pine boards, that we had to lay to replace the original teak woodworm ruined boards, that we found under the black tar edging (another story there.). Can you recommend a decent stain that would work well with the Bonakemi l varnish? Any help gratefully received. Best wishes Pau.
Hi Paul,
Sanding a narrow hallway is a problem as you've discovered especially if the boards run across the hall. Sanding with the edger is usually the only solution. The
results are unlikely to be as good as when sanding a room but that's the only option.
All stains will work ok with the varnish as long as they are fully dry, preferably overnight. Regards Peter

We have an old Victorian house with original floorboards. Having removed the fitted carpet from our first floor bedroom it's apparent that in the past, when the room has been decorated, the floor has been splattered with paint. The boards are ingrained with years of dirt and polish, which we quite like the look of. How do we retain this character but at the same time remove the paint stains? Is it going to be necessary to sand the boards back to the bare wood again, and re stain? With many thanks Caroline
Hi Caroline
It is possible to retain the character of your floor without sanding but it does involve some considerable effort. First hoover the floor. Next wash and scrub the floor with a stiff brush to clean off as much dirt as possible.
Use as little water as possible to avoid soaking the boards. Don't use any cleaning agents just clean warm water.
Whilst the boards are still damp try removing the paint by scraping with a sharp decorators scraper. (If you buy the floor sanding download, £5, from my site you'll see one in action). You'll find that much of the paint will pick off quite easily. Kitchen scouring pads, are also useful for removing paint. Watch out for splinters. When you've got the floor clean allow to dry. Now you need to varnish.
For the first coat use polyurethane varnish, available most diy stores. Thin with white spirit as per instructions on the tin. This will give the floor a rich old looking colour and bring out the character.
When dry rub down lightly and apply 2 coats of Spectra or Mega varnish and you should end up with a rich floor full of character.

Kind regards Peter
Hi Peter,
Many thanks for taking the time to reply and also for your advice. We will certainly follow your instructions and I will e-mail you when we have finished the floor and tell you how we got on and how it is looking! Caroline

Hi Peter,
Thanks for a great video on Floor sanding and Gapping, excellent confidence builder watching someone actually do it.
I have one question, I have been trying to find 2mm MDF but no luck, I tried Homebase but the lowest they go is 3mm, any pointers on where I could locate some, if I cant use that is there any other sheet material I could use?
Look forward to hearing from you.
Best regards
Jay Akhtar
Hi Jay, 2mm mdf, I am having the same problem. Since making the films Homebase no longer stock it. Some timber yards will order it for you but I don't know of any that stock it. I shave down a 3mm strip and use that or Lecol filler for the thin gaps.

Hi Peter,
Just like to say thank you for taking the time out to contact me this afternoon, gave me a great deal of confidence in the task at hand which so far is going great, the gapped floor is coming along really nice, hopefully should start the sanding on Wednesday.
Thanks again.
Best regards Jay

Domnic has kindly emailed to let us know where you can now buy 2mm MDF.
Hi Peter, 2mm & 3mm MDF available in stock at:
Moss & Co, Dimes Place, 104 King Street, LONDON W6 0QW
020-87488251 Fax 020-87412470

Thanks Domnic.


Dear Peter
Firstly I would like to congratulate you on having the best floor sanding advice I have found anywhere on the internet. I will shortly be downloading the videos to help guide me through the process. I wish to stain my floor. The boards date back to the 1930's and have a good colour but I would like to darken them down a little. I found a picture on your site of the ideal finish and have pasted it below

I hear what you say about this being a job for the professionals but would still prefer to tackle this staining myself. My questions are as follows.
(1) It seems that you have used a walnut/oak stain on this floor. Can you tell me the name of the stain you have used and can you supply it to me?
(2) Can you give me any tips or advice to aid me in this process.
Thanks in advance for your help.
Kind regards David Innes

Hi David,
The colour of the floor you mention (above) was achieved by using 2 stains mixed together, Walnut and Dark Oak. I did this because I find that the colour of stains if used straight from the tin can be too bright. I wanted to use Walnut to give some 'warmth' to the floor but the colour was too red. By adding Dark Oak it reduced the redness but kept the warmth. The mix was approx 3 parts walnut, 1 part oak. The final colour was then diluted by about 50% because it was too dark. I used a spirit stain, dilutes with white spirit, and I think it was made by Rustins.
You will need:
plenty of rags or j-cloths.
Rubber gloves
A 1" brush
Roller tray
Black bags The floor should be stained in one continuous process without a break. The work is best done by 2 people. Plan where you are going to start and how to work your way out of the room. Spread out a black bin bag and put the tray on it and pour in the stain.
The stain is applied with a rag working along 2-3 boards. Apply quite liberally and work at a brisk pace. 1 person applying, the other coming along behind a minute later wiping off the excess. Use the brush along skirting's and around pipes etc. You may want to mask skirting boards with broad masking tape, they're easily marked. Allow at least 6 hours to dry before varnishing, better overnight if possible.
Regards Peter

Thanks so much Peter I have been experimenting with a few colour's and really understand what you mean by too bright. Your reply is excellent and will be of much assistance.
Kind regards David

Hello peter, I need a bit of advise. We have approx 70 metres of new pine floor boards we want to varnish with the Bonakemi product but we want to stain it first. Any recommendations on the type of stain to use? Thanks. Helene
Hi Helene,
There are basically 2 types of stain, water based and spirit based, can be thinned with white spirit, both can be used with Bonakemi products.
In the case of spirit based it is important that it has completely dried before varnishing, overnight if possible or a min of 6 hours.
The spirit stains are the ones I use and Coloron or Rustins are available in most diy stores.
Hope this helps. Regards Peter.
Thank you very much Peter for your very useful advise. After extensive color testing, I have chosen the Liberon walnut spirit wood dye which I will follow up with 2 coates of the Mega Bonekemi varnish. Speaking with you on the phone really put my mind at ease that I was doing the right thing. Thanks again. Helene

Hi Lynne and Peter I received your DVD yesterday and watched it time and again all morning, It's exactly what I needed, before starting. thank you both very much. I intend to fit a new Marbau floor and sand an old hardwood floor. and so, I try to buy all the tools you recommended, via Internet, now. I want  your varnishes and roller and trey and perhaps all these hand tools ... is it the best water borne varnish for a new Marbau floor? (very hard and oily, so I read)
Please tell the make and power of the palm sander used by peter? there are so many around and I can't tell if they are powerful enough, so I will buy accordingly. I am new but I want to DIY as much as I can........
Thanks for you kindness

Hi Varda, Glad the DVD got to you in time and Lynne tells me that your cheque has arrived too, thanks. Firstly, the sanding techniques on the dvd are for sanding old pine floor boards, by far the most common floors in the uk. When sanding a hardwood floor do not start with the coarse sanding sheet and sand at an angle, as on the dvd, as you are likely to make deep scratches in the wood that will be hard to remove later. Start with a medium grade sheet and sand up and down along the boards. Do not use coarse  disc on edging sander for same reason.
Hand tools. All the tools you will need are available from diy stores, tools shops etc.
Roller and tray. Use a medium pile roller on a long handle. Roller and tray available in diy stores.
Palm sander. Any make is ok. The one I use is Dewalt.
Varnish. Bonakemi varnishes are widely used by floor sanders. Their Spectra or Mega varnishes should be fine for your floors. See their website for details on these products.
Regards Peter


I think we're too far outside your area - we're in Guildford - but we were very impressed by your website and wondered whether you'd be interested in coming that bit further down the A3. If not, is there anybody you could recommend in the Guildford/Surrey area. Finally, could you suggest in a couple of words how we could insulate a wooden floor. The downstairs floors in our Victorian house are suspended over a void and I think, even if the gaps are filled, that it could be rather cold. Thanks Jane.
Dear Jane
I'm sorry we don't know of any floor sanders we could recommend for your area.
Regarding the draught under your boards, if the void under the boards is large enough for you to get underneath, you could fix sheets of polystyrene to the underneath of the floor boards, then fill the gaps with Peter's method using MDF. You can find out how to fill the gaps using this method by downloading the instruction film from the web site.

P.S nothing to do with floor sanding can be explained in a couple of words. but hope this helps.
Kind regards Lynne.

Thank you so much for getting back to me on this Lynne. The void under the floor boards is reasonably large so we'll certainly look into your suggestion and I'll make sure that any company we do use also uses a wood/mdf filling process.
Thanks again.
Kind regards