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Sanding the floors.

Published: 16 Dec 2008 - 12:51 by adam_pberes

Updated: 18 Dec 2008 - 14:09

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My coach/(the owner) at the squash courts I'm at currently at would like to remove the lacquer on the squash courts as they are far too dark.

The only way we know of doing that is by sanding the floors, but we have nought idea how to.

Does anyone have an idea or how to help?

We can hire a floor sander, but not sure how to use it exactly, I'm sure it would be simple enough but it'd be better to make sure it gets done properly,or adleast by someone who'se used one before.

Or is there anyone is the sydney-west/north-west region that could help out in this?

EDIT: All (5) the courts are sealed, they are shiny in comparison to other courts, basically sydney wide. And they are over-grippy which is the main concern.

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From raystrach - 18 Dec 2008 - 14:07   -   Updated: 18 Dec 2008 - 14:09

thanks bosartek

in australia there is a wide range of situations. the problem with unsealed courts in australia is that most squash centres are not airconditioned and very warm.

sweat tends to go all over the floor. it can mark the floor quite badly. the other thing of course is the timber on the floor. in the old days all floors were crows ash, a yellowy timber which was  very waxy. there may not have been a need for sealing this timber.

however many others are mountain ash  or other forms of hardwood which are not waxy at all. they will gobble up all the moisture than falls.

the beauty of the oil i mentioned is that, being an oil, you apply it with a pad then, after a short while, you wipe off any excess. that leaves only what had seeped in to the surface. it prevents moisture from getting in and is non slip.

i did up a small centre once and the owner complained that he did not think the finish was very good - that i had done a sub standard job. maybe he was thinking it was supposed to look like his lounge room. i suggested this to him!

he sooned changed his mind when all his customers complimented him on how great the floors were and how well it played. he rang me up the next day to withdraw the complaint and tell me what a great job it was!

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From bosartek - 18 Dec 2008 - 03:35   -   Updated: 18 Dec 2008 - 03:43

Ray and Adam,

Most of the points should still be relevant, but please note that my post is in regard to an unsealed court floor (in the US, virtually every squash court has an unsealed playing surface).

I am not familiar with squash courts in Australia, but are all of them finished with some type of sealant or is this more an issue of local climate?

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From raystrach - 18 Dec 2008 - 01:03

hi adam

not too sure if sanding the floors are going to make them that much lighter, but it is possible. bosartek makes some good points although i have done a number of courts and so long as you do not have a hole in the dustbag, you should be able to contain most of the dust, although some will inevitably escape.

depending on how much lacquer is on the floor (often old courts have patches where some of the lacquer has worn off and some is still on. you may be able to scrape off the old lacquer follow another course of action which i will go into soon.

the biggest problem with squash court floors, especially when they have been sanded a number of times, is that the top leaf where on the side of the board where the groove is gets too thin and with the constant pounding it recieves, starts to crack. this is bad, becase once it starts happening, soon it happens all over the court - result - replace the floor.

if you do sand, make sure you take of the smallest amount of timber possible - use a maximum of 80 grit paper - no coarser as it will eat into the surface too much.  probably any finer and it will be continaully clogged either with the lacquer or with all the crap that has got into the surface of the floor.

if any nails are sitting above the surface you should punch these slightly so that they go below the surface of the floor. (you should not sand nails!) use a plastic putty to fill the holes if necessary.

the other alternative is to get an industrial floor polisher and attach plastic abrasive pads (not unlike pot cleaners) and, combined with a little water, give the floor a "polish" i have never tried it on lacquer, and not knowing the condition of yours, i am not too sure if it would remove it.

if there is little or no lacquer on the floor, you will end up with a thick sludge which needs to be cleaned off with water and a mop. once it has fully dried coat it using the method below.

coat the floor after sanding/cleaning with one coat of tung based floor seal. there are two or three brands available on the australian market. one coat will seal the floor, preventing sweat etc from staining the floor and making it dark again. it will also have good grip. any more and it will be too shiny.

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From bosartek - 17 Dec 2008 - 17:38   -   Updated: 18 Dec 2008 - 03:16


The best course of action would be to contact the court manufacturer/installer for details (if the owner does not know who installed the courts, just get in touch with any of the manufacturers that work in the area), but don't trust just any general contractor. It is not necessarily difficult to do yourself, but it does require some knowledge of court floors as the wood must be sanded with very fine-grade sandpaper and to within certain tolerances. If the owner is comfortable doing the work himself, give it a try, but get in touch with the installer anyway for any information or supplies you may need (sanding equipment, dust masks, paint, etc.). Don't forget that the floors must also be re-striped!

It typically takes an experienced crew of two people three to four hours to resurface an international-size squash court. After striping, you must also allow a full 72 hours to ensure that the paint has dried completely and will not smudge underfoot. There will be a good deal of dust (and noise) in the area so, even if you have more than one court, expect to have everything closed for at least four or five days. Once everything is finished, be sure to give the courts another good vacuuming and sweeping with a damp towel before re-opening them to the members. Regardless, the floors will remain a bit dusty for another week or so and will require regular cleaning until all of the sawdust is cleared out.

Before doing any work on the floor, this is also a good opportunity to take care of anything else that needs to be done such as cleaning the walls, bringing in a heavy lift to reach and replace lights or ceiling panels, etc., or realigning a glass backwall. Good luck, and let us know how it goes!

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