How to Sand Hardwood Floors

How to Sand Hardwood Floors
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how to sand hardwood floorsIf you want to learn how to sand hardwood floors like a pro and refinish yours without breaking the bank, then today’s your lucky day! Most people tend to think that sanding can only be done by experts but in this article I’ll show you how to sand hardwood floors like a pro and teach you all the tips and tricks you need to know in order to achieve perfect results.

As strong as it may look, the wooden floor is no match to long years of getting tracked on by shoes and shifting furniture or the stains from spilled liquids. However, they can be made to look as good as new with a little sanding. Let’s see how to do it!

How to Sand Hardwood Floors like a Pro

Preparation and materials needed

  • Face/Dust mask
  • Safety goggles and ear plugs
  • Hammer and nails
  • Paint scraper
  • Measuring tape
  • Wood chisel
  • Plastic sheeting and masking tape
  • A drum or orbital sander
  • A floor buffer (optional)
  • An edger (optional)
  • Sandpaper (various grits)
  • Sanding Screens

Now that you’ve got all the necessary equipment, follow these steps:

1 – Prepare the Room

  1. Remove all the furniture and any obstacles that might get in the way during the sanding. Any doors that open into the room may make it harder to sand underneath, so we recommend removing them.
  2. Sanding is going to release a lot of dust into the air, so you better turn off the HVAC system to keep it from spreading further. Plug all the air ducts and grilles around the house.
  3. Remove any paintings and decor from your walls.
  4. Remove the curtains and any loose coverings that you have on the windows.
  5. Secure any loose fixtures to cut the risk of serious accidents from happening while you are working.
  6. Inspect the floor for any loose boards and nail them back into the joists. Drive them flush into the wood to prevent them from damaging your sander.

2 – Get the Sanding Equipment

To get the best bang for your buck, you should get a random orbital sander or a large sheet sander. They’re versatile, powerful and will give you perfect results not only for this task but for any other sanding task that comes up int he future. To know which ones are the best, check out the best sanders for deck article.

You can also get a floor drum sander as it’ll make the whole job much faster and easier (you can use it while standing and it’s extremely fast) but it’s also much more expensive. You can always try to rent it.

A floor edger may be needed to strip along the baseboards. You will also need a scraper for the deep corners. These are optional, depending on your particular situation so be sure to check if they’re needed.

3 – Ace the Sanding Process

Decide on the grade of sandpaper that you are going to need. In most of my projects, I have always started with a rough grade (50 grit), followed by a medium one (120) then a fine 240-grit one or more for the finishing.

Safety tip: Protect yourself from the dust by wearing a dust mask and safety goggles. Use the earplugs to shield yourself against the noise as well. These are all crucial as this task takes quite a bit of time and it’ll wear on you if you don’t use them.

Start sanding with the coarsest grade of sandpaper at a 45-degree angle to the board direction. Begin from the deep sections of the floor so that your first mistakes can be hidden as you work on your technique. Always follow along the grain of the wood when sanding. Keep moving around to avoid overdoing a section of the floor.

Use the edger to tackle the areas along the baseboards where the large sander fails to reach. Stick to the same grit of sandpaper until you have covered the whole room. At the end of every stage, clean off the dust with a brush and a vacuum cleaner before you move on to the next sanding process. When you are through with the coarse-grade, you can load medium then, later on, the finer grade of sandpaper.

Pro trick: Use a pencil marker to keep track of your sanding to avoid overdoing some areas while leaving others untouched.

4 – Apply the Finishing Strokes

Inspect the surface, making sure that you have a smooth and even surface. Use the sanding screen on a floor buffer to clear the uneven surfaces and create an extra smooth finish (optional). Use a vacuum cleaner and a wet rag to mop off the dust. If you want to get a tanned look, you can stain the wood and as a bonus it’ll also offer further protection from use.

You can also skip and apply a wood sealer to prepare for the first coat of polyurethane finish. Apply about 2-3 coats of polyurethane finish for the best results but remember to always allow the floor to dry in between coats before applying the next round.

Pro tip: If you choose to stain the wood, wait until it is dry before you proceed to the next stage.


And that’s how to sand hardwood floors like a professional! Be sure to always identify the board by running a close inspection at the point where the floor meets the wall – if it’s too thin, you need to be extra careful and sand very lightly or you’ll damage the floor.

Thanks for reading and good luck!

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