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How to Sand Hardwood Floors

Updated on September 28, 2009

How to Sand and Save a Wood Floor

Our first house was wall to wall carpet and since I was used to having hardwood floors, I wanted to get rid of the carpet as soon as possible. I thought that this was going to require a complete job of laying hardwood but a quick inspection of what was underneath the carpet showed that for whatever reason, the previous owner preferred carpet over hardwood. And although there was very little love given to the hardwood underneath, sanding and refinishing hardwood floors was a much better alternative to spending thousands on new floors. In this article, I am going to talk a little bit about how to sand hardwood floors. The good news is it is a lot easier than you may think.

How to Sand Hardwood Floors

As with anything do-it-yourself, the most time consuming process of anything when it comes to home improvement is the prep time. When it comes to refinishing floors, this is no different. You will want to first make sure that the entire area is completely clean. In my case, I had quite the job since I had to remove the carpet and underlayment and then deal with the junk underneath.

You can sand hardwood two different ways. The first way is very labor intensive but is great if you are a stickler for detail. This is to sand the floors by hand to get rid of the original finish on the floor.

Of course, if you are lazy like me and like short cuts (like most), you can do it the conventional way and that is to go to your local hardware store and simply renting a sander. This will drastically reduce the amount of time you will spend sanding the floors. Typically, you will have two types of sanders to choose from that are earmarked for sanding hardwood.

  1. Disk Sander
  2. Drum Sander

While you may be tempted to go with the disk sander because it will cut even more time off the job (it is quicker and many folks think it is easier to use), go with the drum sander instead. The disk sander can leave scarring marks on your floor. A drum sander is much more uniform as you will use it to go back and forth with the wood grain. Plus, everyone that I have talked to who has used a sander has recommended this.

You won't be able to get some spots and these will either have to be done by hand or you can elect to go with a power sander or sanding block in those tough to reach spots on your floor like the areas close to the wall and around flooring vents.

Finally, chances are good that you will need to go over the floors 2-4 times to make sure that all the old paint and finishes are off. In my case, it took nearly 4 times over before I was able to remove the finishes on the hardwood. Be careful though. With sanding, once you have sanded off a coat, it is gone for good so you will want to really want to take it slow.

If all else fails or if you find that sanding hardwood floors is not your thing, you can always seek the assistance of a professional who can do it for you....that is the ultimate lazy man's out though.

Have Experience Sanding Hardwood?

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