You’ll be sanding hardwood floors if you’ve installed unfinished hardwood flooring in your home or plan to refinish some existing hardwood flooring. There’s no getting around it – you or a contractor are going to have to do some sanding.

Sanding hardwood flooring isn’t like sanding a book shelf or birdhouse – it’s like sanding lots and lots of book shelves and birdhouses — all at the same time. There’s may be a bit of a mess, depending on the sander and techniques you use, but many people have had their hardwood floors sanded and survived the experience – you can, too.

DIY or Hire a Contractor?

Regardless of how experienced a DIYer you might happen to be, consider carefully your decision before sanding hardwood floors on your own. Some say that sanding should be left to a professional but if you are determined, have similar experience or are wanting to get experience to become a hardwood floor contractor, by all means!

belt sander

Sanding hardwood requires specialized tools that most homeowners don’t have and while you may be able to rent them – you can’t rent the experience and knowledge required to operate them in fashion that doesn’t damage your hardwood flooring. You might want to practice before starting the sander on your floor and read instruction manuals for the sander itself and sanding tips from this site.

Professional hardwood floor sanders are very powerful and used incorrectly can damage your floor and may even cause injury.

However, experienced DIYers have sanded their own hardwood floors in the past and they will in the future, so if you feel confident in your abilities, there’s no reason why you can’t too.

Can Your Hardwood Floors be Sanded?

Solid hardwood flooring can be sanded and refinished many times without any problem other than the aggravation. However, if your solid hardwood floors are prefinished, you should ask yourself a couple of questions before turning on the sander.

  1. If you’re considering sanding and refinishing the floors because the wood has become worn and dull, many prefinished flooring manufacturers have products that can renew the wood without the mess of sanding.
  2. If you have exceptionally uneven, scratched or damaged flooring there are some special considerations for how to sand hardwood floors with particular problems
  3. Another issue with sanding prefinished solid hardwood floors is that the edges are often beveled making it difficult to remove the old stain and finish in these areas. However, if you want a whole new look that can’t be accomplished with a renewal product; prefinished solid hardwood floors can be sanded just like their unfinished cousins.

solid and engineered wood boards

The same can’t be said about their distant relative – engineered flooring. The hardwood veneer on the top of engineered flooring is very thin and can only be sanded one or two times before you run the chance of getting down into the composites under the hardwood.

If you have engineered hardwood flooring and aren’t sure if it has been sanded before, you might be wise to sand a spare piece or work in a hidden corner before going wild with your sander.

Room Preparation

Sanding processes have improved in terms of the mess-factor. Many contractors use sanders now that can make the process virtually dust-free. This is better for your home and for you if you’re sanding.

Sanding the old way: If you’ve experienced a blizzard or sandstorm, you might be able to imagine what the interior of your home could look like while sanding hardwood floors. With proper preparations though you’ll find it won’t be that bad. Everything that you don’t want caked with dust should be covered or blocked off.

This includes:

• Light fixtures• Heating supply vents• Return registers• Windows
• Appliances• Cabinets• Shelving

Plastic should be used to cover doorways into the room and painter’s tape should secure the plastic in place. Covering your HVAC vents is very important as dust entering the ductwork can clog up your filters and may damage your system.

Books, televisions, stereo equipment, and anything else you don’t want covered in dust should be removed from the room while sanding hardwood floors.

Floor Preparation

Once your room is ready for the approaching storm, it’s time to start your floor preparation. If the room has old carpeting in it or another type of floor covering, it should be removed along with any tack strips around the perimeter. Be careful when removing tack strips as they can be very sharp. Existing flooring may have baseboard and quarter round trim around the perimeter of the room and this should be removed, too.

Any staples in the floor should be removed and any raised nail heads should be removed or hammered into the floor and set. If you’re sanding an existing floor, this is a good point to closely inspect all boards for damage or rot that might require replacement. You should also fill any nail or other types of holes with wood filler before sanding.

Take a Deep Breath and Get Ready to Sand

You are now ready to sand your hardwood flooring, but it’s not too late to call a contractor for the job. However, if you’re bound and determined to do your own sanding, step by step instructions and sanding tips are provided in the articles that follow.

The different types of sanders and other tools needed for the project will be discussed and in some cases specific tools will be reviewed and recommendations made.

If you don’t already have a good shop vacuum, now is a good time to invest in one and while you’re at it, stock up on dust masks at your local home improvement store.

You might also want to write down the phone number of a good flooring contractor for sanding hardwood floors and place it next to your phone – just in case you need it.

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