A floor sander is a piece of equipment used to refinish a hardwood floor. The operator passes the sander across the wood to remove existing floor finishes, wax, stains or other signs of damage and wear. Once the floor has been thoroughly sanded, it can be refinished using stain, wax or sealers as desired.
Floor sanders can be easily categorized according to their size and power. Belt and drum sanders are the largest of these units, and are also the most widely available. Drum sanders are very powerful and must be worked in the direction of the grain to avoid damage. Belt sanders are less aggressive and are easier to control. An orbital sander is a smaller unit that is much easier to use. It has a rotating pad so the direction of the grain doesn't impact sanding technique. Edgers are small, lightweight units used on the perimeter of the room.
Proper sanding and refinishing can restore the look of a wood floor, leaving it looking new again. Larger belt and drum sanders can cover large areas of floor quickly, making them the most effective for large areas. Orbital sanders are much easier to use, and offer virtually error-proof operation for novice users. Edgers are very useful for getting into small spaces, and will not gouge or damage the floor in most cases.
Large sanders are very difficult to move and use. For novices, it can be easy to permanently gouge or damage a floor by leaving a large sander in one spot for too long. They are also expensive to rent or buy, and require expensive sanding pads. Orbital units are not as widely used. They take longer to cover large rooms than belt or drum sanders. No matter what type of sander is used, it can be difficult to achieve a smooth and even finish without the help of a professional.
When choosing a floor sander, consider budget, cost and the amount of time you'll need to complete the job. If rental costs are high in your area, you may save money over time by buying a new or used sander. Before making your selection, you should also consider the amount of area you have to cover, your experience using a sander and how confident you are in your ability to control these units.
Before using a floor sander to refinish a hardwood floor, take the time to remove any stray nails or staples from the floor surface. These fasteners can easily tear the sanding pads, which are usually fairly expensive. Start with a low-grit sandpaper or pad, then repeat the process two to three more times using increasingly finer grits of paper. Fill any visible holes or cracks with wood putty in between each sanding application, allowing the putty to dry before proceeding.
- Photo Credit Nivack: Flickr.com
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