Hardwood Floor Sanding – DIY Sanding Tips

The moment has arrived – you’re ready to begin the hardwood floor sanding process.

In the previous section room and floor preparation were discussed, so if you happened to skip that important information, go back and read it thoroughly prior to turning on your sander.

Hardwood floor sanding procedures for a finished floor are pretty much the same as for an unfinished floor, but you start with a heavier grit sandpaper due to the finish that must be removed prior to getting down to the actual wood.

Tools for Hardwood Floor Sanding

Any project goes smoother if you have all the tools and materials needed on hand before you get started, although running out of sandpaper can be a good excuse for taking a break when you’re about halfway through.

The tools and materials you’ll need to sand your hardwood floors:

• Trash bags• Dust masks• Ear protection• Fine bristled brush
• Sharp scrapers• Belt sander• Edge sander• Buffer• Eye protection

The sanders and buffer are commercial models and are discussed in more detail in the following section. If you don’t plan on making hardwood floor sanding a weekend hobby, you might be better off just renting these specialized tools as they can be expensive.

The sandpaper you need is going to depend on whether you’re starting with a finished or unfinished floor. If your hardwood flooring has a finish that needs to be removed, start with a heavier grit sandpaper for the belt and edge sanders – 24 grit sandpaper usually does a pretty good job.

You will also need 50 to 60 grit and 80 to 100 grit for both sanders and 100 grit pads for the buffer. Sandpaper can usually be purchased at the rental store where you’re getting your sanders or floor distribution retailers.

The last and perhaps the most important item you’ll need is a good set of non-marking knee pads. If you’ve never spent an entire day working on your knees, you may be in for a real treat.

How to Sand Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floor sanding is a step by step process that requires patience and a lot of bottled water. Remember that the finished quality of your floor is going to be a direct reflection of how thorough you are with each step. By the time you’re finished, you might feel like you’re an expert on how to sand hardwood floors:


  • 1. Rough cut belt sander – this first step involves rough sanding the floor. If your wood has an existing finish, start with 24 grit sandpaper and switch to 50 or 60 grit when the finish is just about gone.You can start with 50 or 60 grit if your floors are unfinished. Keep an eye on your sanding belts – when the grit wears down, you’re still working but little is being accomplished. Change sanding belts often.hardwood-edger
  • 2. Rough cut edge sander – your belt sander can’t get close to the edges at the perimeter of the room. Use your edge sander with the same progression of sand paper grits around the room’s edge. Always sand with the wood’s grain when using your belt and edge sanders as much as possible.
  • 3. Medium cut – this step is pretty much the same as the first two steps but with 50 or 60 grit sandpaper on your sanders. When this stage is complete, any roughness in the floor caused by the coarse 24 grit sandpaper should be gone.
  • 4. Fine cut – this is the step when you can finally begin to see some progress. Use your belt and edge sanders with the 80 to 100 grit sandpaper to smooth out the entire floor.
  • 5. Corner scraping – you may have noticed that there’s one part of the floor you haven’t been able to get to with your sanders – the corners.If your floor had a finish on it, these are also the areas that may have the most finish and wax buildup. Use your scrapers to remove the finish in these areas and hand sand with 100 grit sandpaper.
  • 6. Buffing – You’re almost done and you can finally give your knees a break. Use your buffer with the 100 grit pads to smooth your hardwood floor. The weight of the buffer does most of the work so spend some time on this step to give your floors a nice smooth surface that’s ready for a new finish.You’re now finished with your hardwood floor sanding – wipe the dust off your face and take a well deserved break. All that remains is using your shop vacuum, brush, and garbage bags to give the floor a thorough cleaning before breaking out the stain and urethane.



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