How to Sand a Hardwood Floor (A Complete Guide)

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Regular renovations to the current state of the house are the best way to maintain the home’s value. Installing stunning wooden flooring will add value to your house and provide it with an appealing look.

However, as part of the project, you’ll need to sand the flooring first. Sanding hardwood floors is not a cakewalk in the path; the project is not only time consuming, but also a lot of expertise is required to accomplish it.

Sanding hardwood floors is not a job for everyone, if you’re skilled in this sector, you can do it yourself and save thousands of dollars to use in other projects.

However, if you have little or no expertise at all, don’t try attempting it. Leave it to a professional to avoid the risks of damaging the floor.

Before Sanding the Hardwood Floor

First things first, before the actual project, there are a few things you should have in mind to enable you to do the task smoothly. First, you need to understand the state of your current floor.

Know the type of wood it is made of, whether it’s painted or not, and everything relevant to the project at hand.

All these will help you determine the coarseness of sander or grit you will need for this project. You should remove the current finish on your hardwood flooring before you sand out all imperfections accumulated on the floor over the years.

In case of any question, get the help of a professional to advise you accordingly.

Necessary Tools and Materials

Gathering all the essential tools and materials required for a particular project is the first thing of all if you deem for the best results ever. But first, let us learn the tips to rent or buy the right sanding equipment.

Tips for Renting or Buying the Right Sanding Equipment

buying the right sanding equipment for hardwood floor

You need to get a drum sander and the edger for this project. They will work on most of the floor open parts while the edger along the baseboards.

So, when renting or buying this equipment, below are tips to help you to make the right selection;

  • Consider getting the equipment from a flooring expert who will add you more expertise freely in this field.
  • Always ensure you measure the rooms you will work on to help the crew at the store to determine the number of discs and belts you need for the project.
  • Preparations of the room you will sand should the first thing before even going to purchase the equipment. The job will take longer than even the actual sanding project.
  • In the stores, you will find two kinds of a drum sander, the one that requires wrapping a strip of abrasive on the drum and the other with a continuous sleeve or belt. Consider the one with a continuous belt over the other option.
  • Always consider sanders designed with levers to raise and lower the drum.

In sanding hardwood floors, the following tools and materials are a must-have to complete the project:

  • Hammer and nails
  • Wood chisel
  • Face/dust mask
  • Measuring tape
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Paint scraper
  • Safety earplugs and goggles
  • Masking tape
  • Sanding screens
  • An orbital or drum sander
  • Sandpaper
  • An edge
  • A floor buffer

Having gathered all the necessary tools and materials, you get back into your manual to lead you through the involved sanding processes.

Since sanding involves complex a procedure, ensure you don’t skip a step at all. Just a single skipped step will spoil everything and give you poor results overall.

Step by Step Guide to Sand Hardwood Floor

Preparing the area or room

You need to clear the room you plan to work on before you embark on the actual project. Remove all furniture, wall hanging, window coverings, and everything that will be an obstacle during the process.

Doorways, closets, and cupboards, and other things in the room you’re working need to be covered well to protect them from accumulating dust.

You also need to inspect for any possible loose boards on the floor. If there are, nail them back to prevent them from damaging the sander.

All other loose fixtures need to be cut down to prevent them from causing serious accidents. Track strip the surface to find any metal staples or metal-like objects left when removing the carpet.

Rough cutting process

If you’re working on an old floor, first, get an aggressive grit to remove all possible imperfections if possible; level the boards into their original state. You can use new belts and even as much as you can afford.

If you’re working on a newer floor, get an aggressive grit to removing all possible imperfections; however, for this, you can start with a less aggressive grit.

The belt sander should start moving when you set the drum down gently to begin the project. This way, you’ll avoid digging holes on your hardwood floor.

Working near the walls is somehow delicate, unlike other parts of the room. Therefore, a lot of care should be observed when you reach near the walls.

The drum should be pulled up before it hits the wall. You will move your machine forward and backward; the backward motion must be made with extra care, as usual, pull up the drum before it hits the wall.

Working on the edges

There are few places that are hardly reached by the belt sander like along the walls and in closets. At these points, the edge sander is employed.

On the edge sander, you’ll start with 24 grit and keep changing the disc often. Get through all the surface imperfections to get the floor leveled all through.

Rotate the machine in circles as much as possible as you stay careful so that the machine doesn’t hit and dig the corners. Level all other drum marks on the surface until everything is left smooth.

To get rid of deep grooves and cuts from your rough cut, apply the same procedure with either the 50 or 60 grit. You would have almost completed the hardest part in the sanding process.

Now, you’ll also use a similar procedure but with 80 or 100 grit to smoothen the floor to prepare it for buffing.

Scrapping the corners

You won’t sand the floor with the old finish already in place. Find a sharp scraper to scrap through corners to remove all old finishes and maintain its levels with the floor.

Ensure you retain the level scraper, remove too much metal, and don’t leave it angled. You also need to sharpen it often and, if possible, after completing from one corner going to the other.

Buffing process

We aim to obtain the smoothest surfaces possible. Blend the edges with the floor surface using a 100 grit screen under the buffer pad.

Worry less going through the surface several times to attain a smooth surface since the buffer doesn’t dig into your floor like the sander.

Buff through the surface slowly and, if possible many times to obtain the softness that is needed.

Cleaning up the room

Use a wand and crevice device to vacuum the floor thoroughly. You can either use a felt bottomed wand or a hair bristle to protect the floor.

You are done with the sanding process and prepared the floor for staining or applying a sanding sealer.

After sanding is complete, the next thing is protecting your hardwood floor to serve you for an extended period.

how to stain a hardwood floor

However, staining is optional; you can consider the step before applying the first finish coat. Staining the floor is the best way to get a trendy dark floor.

After you get the type of stain, you’ll use, try it on a piece of wood or scrap to determine whether it’s the stain you need on your hardwood floor.

You will give it a whole day to get set before you move to apply the first coat. Below is a step by step guide on how to stain a hardwood floor to give you the color you need.

  • Use a paintbrush or a clean cloth to apply the stain on the floor.
  • The excess stain will be removed using a rag before it spills or runs over the stained surface.
  • Stir the stain at intervals of between 10 to 15 minutes
  • Apply as many coats as possible. Always remember to allow time for drying before you apply the next coat.

The surface is now ready for the first coat finish. Experts recommend a polyurethane coat, and it needs to be applied about two to three times to give out the best results.

However, always remember one coat should dry up completely before applying the next one.


A lot of preparations are required before you start sanding your hardwood floor. You also need some level of skills in sanding for you to complete the project successfully.

The steps above will guide you to produce excellent results and complete the task efficiently and quickly. Always maintain the value of your home by installing and maintaining stunning hardwood flooring.

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