What is Involved in Floor Sanding?

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  • Written By: Jessica Hobby
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 14 August 2019
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Sanding and refinishing existing hardwood floors is a great way to update a home. Sanding floors can be a simple job; however important information is required before tackling such a do-it-yourself project. Mistakes may cost a lot of money to fix and in the case of major mistakes, completely new floors could be required.

The first and most important piece of information needed for floor sanding is knowledge about the floor that will be sanded. Real hardwood floors may be sanded up to seven times. Engineered hardwood floors may be sanded one to three times. Although it is hard to tell the difference between some modern laminate floors and the real thing, laminate floors are not real hardwood and they cannot be sanded. Sanding floors not capable of being sanded anymore or that should never be sanded in the first place may cause irreparable damage.

After it has been determined that the hardwood or engineered hardwood floor may be sanded, the preparation is more intense than the actual floor sanding. Floor sanding creates unspeakable amounts of dust. The room which is to be sanded should be cleared and everything that is near the room should be covered in plastic. Taping plastic over nearby doorways will help keep dust out of other rooms.


Next, the room must be prepared by removing all the baseboards, closet doors, heat registers, door casings and any other obstructions. It is much easier to remove these things and reattach them after the floor sanding is complete, instead of working around them. When the room is prepared for floor sanding, it is time to bring in the sander.

Orbital sanders and drum sanders are the two types of sanders used for floor sanding. A drum sander will offer the easiest results but should not be used by a novice, especially on an old floor that may not have much left to sand. When drum sanders are used by inexperienced people, they can easily leave dents, divots and grooves in the wood that are difficult to sand out. For the inexperienced do-it-yourselfer, it is best to use an orbital floor sander for floor sanding. Orbital sanders require pressure to really wear down wood, so they are easier to control and although the sanding process will take longer, it will rarely involve any dents or grooves.

Regardless of which type of sander is used for floor sanding, the goal of floor sanding is to remove all of the old finish, smooth down any high spots, and remove scratches and nicks. Neither type of sander will allow the user to get into small areas and corners, so a smaller hand-held sender will need to be used to sand hard-to-reach areas. Once the floor is uniformly sanded without blotches, it is ready to have a new coat of finish applied.


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