The Ultimate Floor Sanding Guide

Floor Sander In Action

DIY floor sanding doesn’t have to be rough on your body or your budget. Use our ‘Ultimate Floor Sanding Guide’ so you can do it yourself without doing yourself in. If in doubt, always trust the experts to provide help, advice or handiwork to keep your floors looking stunning for the long term.

Sanding Wooden Floors To Maintain Your Home’s Value

There’s something to be said for the quality and aesthetic appeal of a beautifully sanded floor. It’s the kind of renovation that can really turn your house into a home and, as a result, add significant value to your property. We often focus on the design and creation of these gorgeous spaces – but how are we investing in maintaining them?

Consider when you were last sanding wooden floors in your home. What’s happened since then? Kids, moving furniture, pets and high-heeled shoes? Scratches, patches and scuffs? Celebrations, commiserations and graduations? Your floor has seen and supported your family through all of it. It’s time to return the favour and help your surfaces regain their former glory. It’s time to start sanding those wooden floors so they can be recoated.

DIY Floor Sanding – Pros & Cons

Sanding wooden floors is not an activity that is completely out of reach of the normal DIY’er. There’s no denying that this process is hard-work and time consuming. There is labour and cost involved and you’ll certainly need support. However, with preparation and patience, this is an achievable goal that will keep your home looking its best without incurring costly repair bills down the track.

Importantly, you need to research. The state your surfaces are in will impact how you approach the task of sanding wooden floors. Assess your situation before beginning any work to make sure you have the right equipment. As with any home renovation project, ensuring you have everything you need before you begin will save you time and heartache.


Section 1: Before You Start Your Floor Sanding Project

For your floor sanding project, it is crucial to have the right equipment and ensure you have everything ready before you begin the actual floor sanding process. The following sections describe exactly what and how you need to prepare for your floor sanding project.

What equipment do I need for sanding wooden floors?

As a beginner, you’ll need a Polivac. It’s less aggressive than a belt sander and easier to control – perfect for jobs that require lightly sanding a floor. This tool offers a back and forth sanding motion, which means it’s slower and lighter – far easier for a first-timer.

If, during your assessment, you notice that your floor is quite damaged or has a few layers of finish on it, you’re going to need a belt sander. This is also known as a drum floor sander. It’s still manageable but just be conscious that the process will involve more upper body strength and control than the use of an orbital floor sander.

Both a Polivac and a drum floor sander will require the correct sandpaper. This decision is made based on determining the state of your wooden floors. If you’re not sure, a typical place to start would be a 60 grit sandpaper. If you think that the floor is extra rough then you’ll want to get something coarser; you could go down to a 24 when sanding a floor that is particularly coarse.

As the job progresses, you’ll progress up to a finer grit 120 sandpaper for your finish. Sandpaper grits, for those unfamiliar, start as coarse as 24 and then move up to 40, 80, 120 and then Polyvac 150 grit. Our Ultimate Floor Sanding Guide suggests investing time and research into this decision.

Other preparation materials you’ll need to assemble beforehand:

  • 1. Floor edger for skirtings
  • 2. Small detail floor sander for corners
  • 3. Hammer
  • 4. Nails
  • 5. Vacuum cleaner
  • 6. Large empty bins
  • 7. Lots of large bin bags
  • 8. Dust masks (choose quality over cheap – trust us!)
  • 9. Ear muffs
  • 10. Heavy-duty extension cord (at least 10 metres long)
  • 11. Sturdy shoes
  • 12. Support person – this isn’t a job to attempt solo.

Floor sanding preparation

1. Strip off old floor coverings

Ensure that area you’re sanding is completely stripped of any old floor coverings. This is going to include any carpets, materials, rugs, nailed edges or staples.

The Ultimate Floor Sanding Guide - removing floor coverings

Removing floor coverings

The Ultimate Floor Sanding Guide - Removing Carpet Coverings

Removing carpet coverings

2. Ensure there are no protruding nails

Any nails still in the area that you’re sanding must be firmly embedded below the surface by at least 4mm.

The Ultimate Floor Sanding Guide - Hammer Nails Down

Hammer any exposed nails

3. Add putty to nail holes

The nail holes must then have putty applied to holes.

The Ultimate Floor Sanding Guide - Add Putty To Nail Holes

Cover nail holes with putty

4. Ensure you have a clean floor before you start

A very thorough check of the area when sanding floors will save much in the way of time-wasting (or even injury) once you’ve started the job, so take your time. Dust, sweep and vacuum the area so you have a completely empty and clean surface to begin your floor sanding job.

The Ultimate Floor Sanding Guide – Vacuum Floor

Vacuum floor to ensure area is clean

5. Cordon off the space you’re working in

Make sure that the space you’re working in is contained as much as possible. What a shame it would be to step out after admiring your hard work to find that the rest of your house was coated in dust from sanding floors! Make sure that any other people around are aware of what’s going on and that everyone (including pets) avoids the area.

Drum floor sander and Polivac floor sander preparation

You’ll see directional arrows on your sander – these indicate how you should install your sandpaper. The drum sander will have a removable handle to make movement easier. Make sure this is absolutely secured at all times and that you keep an eye on the dust bag. It needs to be disposed of when it’s full.

Both the drum floor sander and the Polivac floor sander will be heavy. You’ll need your support person to help you lift and kick when you’re using it and to help you make sure you’ve got a firm hold. Ask them to then stand well away from you before you begin.


Section 2: Floor Sanding Guide – Step-By-Step Process

  1. Open floor sander: Tip your machine on the side so it’s open at the front. For your first round you will start at your lowest grit before moving towards 120 finer grit sandpaper for your final finish.
  2. Add sandpaper: Slide the sandpaper roll onto the drum. You will be changing your sandpaper frequently. The Ultimate Floor Sanding Guide recommends that you go slow and constantly check your sandpaper situation rather than charging ahead.
  3. Start in the centre of the room: Begin sanding, starting in the centre of the room. Your aim is to keep the sander moving evenly and constantly – smooth motions instead of jerking movements are key.
  4. Go with the floor grain: When you’re sanding, using as smooth movements as possible, go with the grain both up and down. Move forward with the machine in even motions.
    The Ultimate Floor Sanding Guide – Floor Sanding Machine
  5. Remember to pull drum back up: When you’re turning remember that you need to pull the drum back up. If not you run the risk of scarring the floor.
  6. Get rid of dust after each stage: After every stage of sanding make sure you get rid of all the dust using your vacuum. This will not only help with clean up before the coating process but it will also make it a much safer and more comfortable environment for you to work in.
    The Ultimate Floor Sanding Guid - Vacuum After Each Stage
  7. Sand floors to same gradient: When you’re sanding wooden floors and you’ve reached the edges you need to swap to the edging sander for the skirtings. Try to make this process as smooth as possible to ensure the Polivac and the floor edger are sanding floors to the same gradient to ensure a smooth, professional finish.
  8. Hand sand edges: Finer edges will be left to your small detail sander or you could even sand the edges and corners by hand using the right sandpaper grit.
    The Ultimate Floor Sanding Guide – Hand Sanding Corners
  9. Remove all dust before coating: Once you have finished sanding a floor it is imperative to remove absolutely all the dust before coating.

After you’ve completed sanding a floor the next step is going to be coating it appropriately. It’s vital to remember to allow enough time between coats to let your floor dry completely; otherwise you’ll be straight back on the sander! Take your time.


Section 3: What Are Some Common Mistakes When DIY Sanding Wooden Floors?

A lot of home projects come undone because of lack of preparation or allocation of appropriate time. This is not a quick job – be prepared to have this task take quite a while, particularly if it’s your first time.

The wearing of safety equipment at all times is crucial for success. Good quality safety gear and good quality materials are vital; don’t sell your floors, or yourself, out with some cheap corner-cutters.

The amount of dust that comes up when sanding floors is quite incredible. Make sure you’re prepared with enough bin bags and bin space to get rid of it all. Keep cleaning the floors between passes to keep it under control.

The Ultimate Floor Sanding Guide - Cleaning Dust

Cleaning Dust

These machines are strong and the ‘kick’ can be surprisingly strong. Make sure you have someone with you to help you lift and move it when necessary and to keep an eye on things in case you need help.

Sanding a floor is a task that is within your reach. It’s the kind of thing you should be doing regularly to make sure your surfaces are at their best. This keeps the value in your home and means that your space is one that you can be proud of.

Sanding a floor is a home-improvement task that takes time, effort and energy. The result will be worth it, but if the project sounds overwhelming – help is at hand! Contact an expert floor sander to save you the hassle of working with dust and heavy machinery. The team at Brisbanes Finest Floors can have your old wooden flooring looking like new, leaving you more time to simply enjoy your home.

This Ultimate DIY Floor Sanding Guide is packed with tips and tricks, but if you’re serious about sanding, contact the experts! Call Brisbanes Finest Floors today.

Brisbanes Finest Floors, with over 20 years of experience in adding wow to any wooden floor, internal or decking.

Request a free quote

Talk to us today and discuss your floor restoration, repairing your deck and new flooring.

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