How to Refinish Hardwood Floors With an Orbital Sander


Bringing back the beauty of a hardwood floor adds charm and elegance to any room. Though belt sanders are more aggressive and can do the job quickly, an orbital or random-orbital sander allows the operator to move in any direction without fear of ruining the floor. This takes the pressure off, so you can concentrate on getting the job done right.

Things You'll Need

  • Orbital floor sander
  • Sandpaper in various grit levels
  • Hand orbital sander
  • Vacuum
  • Broom
  • Mineral spirits
  • Towels
  • Gloves
  • Floor finish
  • Applicator

Sanding a Wood Floor

  • Sweep and vacuum the floor before sanding. Though it may seem like a needless step, it is important to remove particles, such as a small pebble, which can gouge the floor while being dragged under the sander.

  • Attach a course grit sand paper to the bottom of the orbital sander. Remember, the lower the number, the more aggressive the action. For the first round of sanding, a 40 grit may do the job.

  • Sand the floor starting at the farthest end of the room. Though you are not required to sand with the grain while using an orbital sander, it is still a good idea. By working with the wood grain, you will develop a systematic, time-saving pattern. Work slowly; sanding a wood floor takes time, especially with an orbital sander.

  • Sand low spots and edges with a hand orbital sander, using the same-level grit paper.

  • Sweep and vacuum floor to remove sand dust and debris.

  • Repeat steps two through five with progressively finer sand paper, such as 80, 100 or 120 grit, to bring the floor to a clean, smooth state. The fine sand paper removes the sanding lines left from the course sand paper, not the old finish. If old varnish is still on the floor, continue using the course sand paper.

  • Sweep the floor to remove any remaining sand dust.

  • Dip a rag in mineral spirits. Wring well. Wipe down floor to remove the fine layer of dust still on the floor. Allow to dry.

  • Apply floor finish according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Tips & Warnings

  • Sanding a floor can take several hours, depending on the amount of floor finish and scratches.
  • Have plenty of ventilation when using mineral spirits and floor finish.

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