How to Sand Floors With a Drum Sander


Properly maintained hardwood floors can add value and charm to an older home. Over time, a hardwood floor becomes dull and scratches may develop in the finish. Refinishing a hardwood floor restores the natural beauty of the wood. The floors must be sanded to remove the old finish and to eliminate any imperfections in the wood. Sanding a hardwood floor is physically demanding, but homeowners can save money by doing it themselves.

Things You'll Need

  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Plastic sheets
  • Nail punch
  • Wood filler
  • Putty knife
  • Shop vacuum
  • Safety glasses
  • Ear plugs
  • Drum sander
  • 60-grit sandpaper
  • 100-grit sandpaper
  • 120-grit sandpaper
  • Hand-held sander
  • Remove all furniture, rugs and curtains from the room. Nail plastic sheets across doorways to keep the dust from escaping into other rooms.

  • Pound any nails below the surface of the floor using a hammer and nail punch. Any nail heads that rise above the floor can ruin the drum sander. Fill in gaps in the floor with wood filler. Sweep or vacuum the floor to remove any debris.

  • Tilt up the drum sander's front housing to reveal the drum. Rotate the drum so the seam is visible. Loosen the drum by turning the clamping device counterclockwise with a wrench. Insert one end of 60-grit sandpaper into the seam. Turn the drum and place the other end of the sandpaper into the slot. Tighten the drum by turning the clamping device clockwise with a wrench.

  • Place the drum sander in a corner of the room and plug it in. Tilt the sander to lift the drum off the floor. Turn on the drum sander and slowly lower the drum to the floor. Pull up on the handle and pull back. Sand the floor in a direction that is diagonal to the floor boards.

  • Tilt the sander so the drum is off the floor. Move the sander back to where you began the first pass, but over 2 inches. Lower the drum to the floor. Pull up on the handle and pull back. Sand in the same direction as the first pass. Repeat this process until the entire floor is sanded. Replace the sandpaper when it gets worn.

  • Turn off the drum sander, unplug it and remove the 60-grit sandpaper. Replace it with 100-grit sandpaper. Place the drum sander in the corner of the room that was last sanded. Plug in the sander, tilt the drum off the floor and turn it on. Lower the sander to the floor and sand in a diagonal direction that is opposite of the first sanding.

  • Replace the 100-grit sandpaper with 120-grit sandpaper. Place the sander in any corner of the room. Plug in the sander, lift the drum off the floor and turn the sander on. Lower the drum to the floor and sand in a direction that is horizontal to the floor boards. Overlap by 2 inches on each pass across the floor.

  • Sand the corners and edges of the room with a hand-held sander using 60-, 100- and 120-grit sandpaper. Vacuum the floor thoroughly and wipe up any remaining dust with a tack cloth. The floor is now ready for finishing.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can rent a drum sander from a local hardware store or equipment rental store.
  • Always wear safety glasses and earplugs when operating a drum sander.
  • Never touch the drum when the drum sander is turned on.

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  • Photo Credit Parquet floor image by Einar Bog from
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