HARDWOOD FLOOR SANDING: HOW TO REFINISH A
Do-It-Yourselfers will appreciate all the
great tips and techniques shared in this hardwood floor sanding guide by Virginia Abrasives. The guide is loaded with information
including helpful hints, equipment checklists, floor sanding patterns, safety measures and special final pass instructions for
getting your floor ready for its finish. The guide contains information to be used for refinishing old floors or doing the initial
finish on a new floor.
Get your copy here!
HARDWOOD FLOOR SANDING GUIDE:
- Drum Floor Sander or Orbital Sander
- Edger Disc Sander
- Rotary Floor Buffer/Maintainer
- Sandpaper (fine, medium, coarse)
- Grade 120 Mesh Screen Disc with Pad ï¯Hammer and Nail Set
- Pry Bar
- Hand Scraper
- Dust Mask, Safety Glasses, Ear Plugs
Always follow machine manufacturer’s instructions. Sanding dust is extremely combustible.
- Never smoke or have open flames present while sanding or applying finish.
- Empty sander dust bags frequently into container. Store container outside of job site to prevent possible fire hazard.
- Unplug sanding equipment when not in use or whenchanging paper.
- NEVER mix discarded stain or finish rags with waste sawdust, spontaneous combustion can occur.
- Check fuse supply as machine may overload circuit.
- Remove furniture, rugs, curtains, pictures and any other conveniently removed items.
- Complete wall covering and painting projects prior to refinishing floors.
- Provide adequate ventilation during sanding and refinishing.
- If the room has a large doorway, cover it with a dropcloth orplastic covering. Stuff towels or rags under bottoms of exit or closet doors. Cover all air vents.
- NEVER stop the sander with the drum in contact with the floor.
- Wear clean, soft footwear to avoid dirt marks and scratching.
PREPARING THE FLOOR
- Remove quarter round molding or baseboard for a professional touch.
- Use a small wooden wedge between the wallboard and the pry bar to prevent damaging the wallboard.
- Repair or replace loose boards by gluing and nailing.
- Counter-sink all protruding nail heads with nail set.
- Vacuum or sweep the floor.
SANDING NEW FLOORS
Recently installed or slightly worn
FIRST SANDING (Medium Abrasive, 36-Grit) Install sandpaper per machine manufacturer's instructions (snug, not too tight or loose). Position
the drum sander along the wall in the direction of the wood grain, with approximately two-thirds of the length of the floor in front of you.
Start machine and ease the drum to the floor. Walk slowly forward at an even pace. As you near the wall, gradually raise the drum off the floor.
Start pulling the machine backwards as you ease the drum to the floor. Cover the same path previously sanded, raising the drum upon completion
of this pass. The next cuts should be done in the same fashion, moving the machine approximately four inches into the unsanded floor area each
time.After a few passes, you will notice your sander's dust bag will start filling up. Stop sanding and empty the dust bag often. Upon
completing the two-thirds portion of the room, turn the machine in the opposite direction and sand the remaining third in the exact same manner,
allowing a two- or three-foot overlap of the first cuts. If you start to notice the sanding rate is dropping, your sanding sheet is probably
clogged or worn out. Stop sanding and change your sheet. If you continue operating with a worn out or clogged sanding sheet, you will eventually
burn or damage your floor!After you have completed this operation, use the edger machine to sand near walls and in areas where the drum sander
won't reach. Move the edger in a brisk left-to-right, semi-circular motion. (Use the same grit abrasive as used on drum sander.) Hand sand or
scrape corners and areas inaccessible by machine. Vacuum the entire floor.Apply wood putty to any exposed cracks or holes in wood. Allow to
dry before proceeding to the next sanding step.SECOND SANDING: (Fine Abrasive, 80-Grit) Upon completing both drum and edger operations with
medium abrasive, repeat the same procedure with the fine abrasive, 80-Grit.
REFINISHING OLD FLOORS
Generous amount of old finish to be removed, and/or uneven floor contours to be corrected
FIRST SANDING: (Coarse Abrasive, 20-Grit) Install sandpaper per machine manufacturer's instructions (snug,
not too tight or loose). Divide the room into thirds. Place the sander next to a wall facing the direction of the wood grain with two-thirds of
the floor in front of you. Start the machine and slowly ease the drum to the floor while walking slowly at an even pace. As you near the
wall, gradually raise the drum. Begin pulling the machine backwards as you ease the drum to the floor. Cover the same path previously sanded.
Raise the drum upon completion of this pass. Sand the entire floor area in the same direction, overlapping approximately four inches on each
new cut until you finish. Move the sander into position so that this operation can be repeated in the opposite direction for the remaining
one-third of the room.If your floor is severely cupped or curled you may need to sand this first cut at a 45-degree angle to the direction of
the wood grain (see above diagram). Otherwise, sanding should always be done with the direction of the wood grain.If you start to notice the
sanding rate is dropping, your sanding sheet is probably clogged or worn out. Stop sanding and change the sheet. Failure to change a sheet at
this time will eventually lead to burn marks and damage to the floor.After you have completed this operation, use the edger disc sander to sand
near the walls and in areas the drum sander won't reach. Move the edger in a brisk left-to-right, semi-circular motion. (Use the same grit
abrasive as used on the drum sander.)
DO NOT attempt to remove 100% of the old finish during this operation. Residual amounts will be removed during
subsequent sanding operations. Vacuum the entire floor.
Continue sanding as indicated above, but with a medium abrasive, 36-Grit. Apply wood putty to
exposed cracks and allow to dry.THIRD SANDING: Continue sanding as in previous steps, but with a fine abrasive, 80-Grit.
These final steps are necessary for best 'Professional' appearance
Slowly lower the floor buffer with a white nylon pad attached over a 120-Grit sanding screen. Keeping the buffer balanced, sand the entire
floor in the direction of the wood grain, overlaing your passes by four inches, as you work your way to the wall behind you. Remove screen
and shake out sawdust as it becomes clogged. Hand scrape and fine sand areas that the power sander was not able to reach. Vacuum the entire
room thoroughly, especially around windows, sills, doors, and door frames. Inspect the floor. Hand sand any imperfections and swirl marks
that may remain.Follow the manufacturer's recommendations and guidelines for applying your floor finish.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR LIGHTLY REFINISHING WOOD FLOORS
NOTE: Hardwood floors need only be power sanded if the wood is damaged, cupped, or curled. For refinishing floors with slight wear in the finish (traffic pattern wear), please use the following guidelines.Sand floor with a rotary or orbital buffer and an 80-Grit mesh screen. It is not necessary to remove all of the finish; however, the floor should be uniformly smooth. Continue moving machine back and forth in the direction of the wood grain, working toward the wall behind you. Remove and shake out screen when it becomes clogged.Vacuum the entire floor. Screen sand floor again with a 100- or 120-grit mesh screen. Hand sand or scrape corners. Vacuum one final time (entire floor as well as around windows, sills, doors, etc.). Apply finish coating following the manufacturer’s recommendation.For information on Pre-finished or Engineered Floors visit our website at VirginiaAbrasives.com