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What tools do you really need when you are restoring hardwood floors?

Updated on March 15, 2010

If you are planning on restoring the hardwood floors in your home, understand that it is more involved than simply having the tools needed to do the job.  Because refinishing floors can be tricky at times, even the most handy do-it-yourself-ers will sometimes leave the job up to a professional contractor that refinishes wood floors for a living.  However, if you are trying to cut corners or are on a budget, there are some things that you will need to know as well as have all the tools in place before you begin.

Perhaps the most "involved" process to doing your floors yourself could be hand sanding your hardwood floors.  The work is slow and intensive though and basically you will have to had sand the floors until all the previous finish is off, leaving nothing but the smooth grain of the wood.  The good part about hand sanding is that this leaves very few chances of a making a mistake, as power sanders tend to sand floors down pretty quickly.

What most handymen do is use power tools to sand and restore a hardwood floor though.  You will want a professional grade sanding machine and you can usually rent these at your local hardware store or big box home improvement store like Lowe's.  The prices will vary from store to store so shop around and get quotes to find the best rental price.

What type of sander will I need to restore my floors?

There are two types of sanders available to you.  One is the drum sander.  The other is the disc sander.  A disc sander sands floors in a circular motion and can be tricky to use.  In fact, the chances of you damaging your floor and making circle marks in them is high if you don't know what you are doing.

The drum sander, on the other hand, is a better option, especially if this is your first attempt at refinishing.  The drum sander sands the floors in a back and forth motion going with the wood grain.  This makes it feel a lot like mopping or sweeping a floor and the chances of damaging a floor to the point of no return is limited.

You will also need a power sander.  Because most sanders are big and bulky, they won't be able to hug the corners of the wall or get into hard to reach spots.  The power sander will allow you to manually get into places that you would otherwise not be able to get into.  The other choice is a block sander.

Will you have to leave the home to restore your floors?

The answer is you won't....you just won't be able to use them for 1-2 days until the finish and protective coat dries.  So, if you are refinishing a floor in a high traffic area, you may want to consider staying at a hotel or with family members.  If you are restoring a wood floor in your bedroom, you can simply close the door and sleep on the couch for a couple days though.

Depending on the varnish you apply, you will most likely not have to worry about toxic fumes harming your family or pets.

Restoring hardwood floors is a process but not something that you should be afraid of.  If you don't think you can do it though, look around your local area for a hardwood specialist that can.  That way, if something goes wrong, you can blame someone else other than yourself.

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