How To Sand Hardwood Floors

How to Sand Hardwood Floors

Hardwood floors are beautiful to have, but they can be a lot of work, especially if they are old. If your floors are looking past their prime, you may be wondering what you can do to get them back to their best appearance. One of the best methods is to refurbish them, which will involve sanding them down and then applying a finish and a stain so that they will be protected from scuffs and scratches later on. Today we’re going to go over the process of sanding the floor so that you can ensure that you will get the best results.

Before we begin, however, it’s important that you understand that this is a laborious process, so don’t think that you can do all of your floors in a weekend. We suggest that you tackle one room at a time, starting with the smallest so that you can see how much work goes into it. As you progress, it will get easier, but just be sure to go in with your eyes open, so you don’t get discouraged and give up.

What You’ll Need for This Tutorial

If you want to get the job done right the first time, you will have to rent a floor sander. While you could buy one, it’s much more cost effective to rent it and return it, unless you plan on sanding your floors on a regular basis. Other than that, here are the other materials you’ll need.

  • Drum sander
  • Edge sander
  • Coarse sandpaper
  • Fine sandpaper
  • Dust mask
  • Shop vacuum
  • Broom
  • Hammer

You won’t necessarily need a shop vacuum for this job, but you will have to clean up the dust left over somehow, and that is usually the best way. A broom and dustpan can work, but it will take a lot longer to finish. In this case, the broom is to make sure that the room is clean and swept beforehand.

Step by Step Guide

As we mentioned, it’s better to start your process in the smallest room possible so that you aren’t committing yourself to a huge project. Also, feel free to test your skills on a section that won’t be visible normally, such as a part that is covered by carpet. Once you get the hang of it, though, then you should be able to do your whole house over a couple of weeks.

Step One: Clear and Clean the Room

Make sure that all furniture is out and that the floor is swept and free of any dirt and debris.

Step Two: Check for Lead

If your home is old, you may have lead-based materials on your floor. You can hire a professional to check for you, which means that you will have to take some extra precautions if it is there. Make sure to wear a respirator and old clothes while working. Also, plug any vents or cracks where lead dust can spread to other parts of the house. If your floors are newer (post 1978), then you shouldn’t have to worry.

Step Three: Check for Nails

If any nails are sticking up out of the floorboards, they will shred your sandpaper and could damage the sander. Use a hammer to get them flush against the wood.

Step Four: Attach Coarse Sandpaper to the Drum Sander

The ideal grit will be about 60, but if your floors have a lot of damage, you may need to start with 36 and then do 60 afterward.

Step Five: Figure Out a Plan and Start Sanding

For best results, start on one side of the room and work your way across, line by line. When starting the sander, hold it above the floor first until it is at full speed, then gently lower it. The machine will start moving immediately, so be prepared.

Also, keep the sander moving at all times. If you stop in a section, then it will start to take off more wood, and you can get a dip in the floor.

When sanding, it’s best to go at an angle instead of with the grain, at least when you are doing a coarse pass. Be sure to check your sandpaper every so often to make sure that it’s not getting too dull. If you’re not sure, then change the paper just to be safe.

Another thing to think about is that you will take care of the edges later, so don’t worry about getting all the way to the wall.

Step Six: Vacuum the Dust

Make sure that you collect as much as possible. If your floors have lead, use a HEPA filter with your vacuum to make it safer.

Step Seven: Sand the Edges

Using your handheld edge sander, you will have to make a pass all around the sides of the room. The best way to do it is to work in a zigzag pattern so that you don’t cause streaks or lines in the wood. As always, get the sander to full speed first, and make sure that you are constantly moving.

Again, vacuum everything up afterward.

Step Eight: Sand With Fine Paper

Once the whole room has been done with a rough pass, switch out to 80-grit sandpaper and do it again. This time, however, you can go with the grain instead of at a slight angle. Also, start on the opposite side of the room as last time so that you don’t have the same lines. The same is true for your edge sander as well.

Step Nine: Vacuum the Dust

Make sure that your floor is thoroughly clean. If necessary, use a broom to get into tight corners and ensure that you got everything.


Once you have finished sanding your floor, then you will have to buff and finish it, but that’s a tutorial for a different time. We highly recommend that you sand all of your floors before refinishing them so that you don’t have to worry about dust and debris after applying your stain or sealant, and it enables you to rent the drum sander for less time.

As always, we hope that you enjoyed this tutorial and we hope that your floors turn out as beautifully as you want them to. Thanks for joining us and we’ll see you next time.

About the Author Darrell Webster

I believe there is a handyman in all of us as long as you have the right tools. I started this blog to help anyone who is interested in fixing things to learn their way around the different tools and to know how to perform different DIY tasks. I have been doing this for years and believe I am a master of this art.

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