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Top tips on how to sand a floor

How to Sand a Floor

Date posted: 12 June 2013

Tools you will need:

  • Drum Floor Sander
  • Floor Edging Sander
  • Edge/detail Sander or Hook Scraper
  • Dust Sheets
  • White Spirit
  • Clean Cloth
  • Lacquer and Brush

Pre Sanding Check List:

  • Clear area of all furniture and if in an open area or near carpets, then lay down dust covers to protect your furnishings.
  • Tape down doors and add dust sheets to try and minimise any dust traveling throughout the house when you’re sanding.
  • Check the floors to ensure that they are solid wood floor boards and not laminate floor boards as laminate floor boards cannot be sanded.
  • Inspect the boards are secured tightly if not, using a suitable nail punch tap down the floorboard fixing nails and remove all other screws and nails. Otherwise this will only rip the sanding belt.

Choosing Sandpaper for your Floor Sander

Sandpaper comes in a variety of grades but generally they fall under the categories of course (grit 36), medium (grit 60) and fine (grit 80-100).  You will most likely only need to use medium or fine sandpaper unless the board are extremely rough and grooved.


With the Drum Floor Sander lay the drum sander on its side so that you can attach the sand paper.  Check that it is not plugged in. When fixing the sand paper into place follow the instructions to ensure that this has been done safely and correctly.

If some of the boards have started to curl you will need to start by sanding at a 45 degree angle to the boards so that you smooth them flat prior to sanding along the board length or better known as the grain.  Sanding with the grain should be done with a finer sand paper as you have already removed most of the top layer.  If the boards have not curled, than you may be able to sand along the grain from the start. 

Once you are happy with the flooring you will then need to hire an Edging Sander so that the edges by the skirting board that the drum sander has been unable to reach can be finished.  When attaching the sand paper again follow the instructions to ensure that this has been done safely and correctly.

Now sand the areas that were missed, making sure that you do not over sand areas as it will leave swirly scratch marks in the wood.   If you have some very tight corners or areas you may need to hire a corner sander or use a hook scraper.

Cleaning and Lacquering

Once finished you must dust and clean thoroughly, use a clean cloth and white spirit to wipe all walls and floor before you lacquer.  This will ensure that dust does not land on the varnish as its drying and leave speckles and texture. Once completed you are ready to lacquer, apply a minimum of two coats, if it is a heavy traffic area I would recommend six or seven coats, and remember to always apply lacquer with the grain of the wood never across it.

Some Helpful Safety Tips

  • Wear appropriate protective clothing, nothing that is too loose that it can catch on anything, but long trousers would protect your legs from debris.
  • Wearing safety goggles/glasses to protect your eyes from dust is essential
  • Wearing ear plugs is a very good way to protect your ear drums from prolonged periods of hire noise
  • Do not wear glove while using hand sanders as the gloves could catch on moving parts
  • Keep both hands on the hand sander, one on the top and one near the switch in case you need to turn it off.

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