Sanding Floors

Sand floors down to bare wood if there's a wax finish on top of the polyurethane, if the finish has worn through or if the floor has been stained or damaged. Before you start. Use the same preparations for screening, though you might want to create a double airlock (plastic on both sides of a door) to keep the dust confined — it really flies with a drum sander. You may also want to think twice about doing this work yourself, particularly if it's a large open area where any unevenness in the floor will be evident in the finish. A drum sander can dig into the floor very quickly and leave unsightly gouges when operated by an inexperienced person. A professional will charge $1.50 to $3 per square foot, including finish application and cleanup. If you are going to do the work yourself, watch a how-to video (try a rental store or the local library) before you start. Sanding Pointers. You can rent a drum sander, which does the main floor, and edger for around $55 a day. Neither device reaches into corners fully, so you'll have to scrape these areas with a razor-sharp floor scraper. Using the drum sander and working with the grain of the wood, make at least two passes in each direction with 60-, 80- and 100-grit sanding disks. (Skip 20- and 36-grit disks unless you're stripping paint off the floor.) The disks for the drum sander typically cost $3 each; for the edger the disks run $2 each. To ensure a more even floor, keep the following tips in mind:
  • Keep the sander moving; stalling it in one place will result in a noticeable swale.
  • Move at a steady, even pace to take off a uniform amount.
  • Don't muscle the sander.
  • Don't drop the sanding drum down on the floor too quickly after picking it up to make a turn, or you'll gouge the floor.

    Again, bag the sawdust and leave it outside, away from anything flammable.
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