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Taking flooring 'lessons'...is the pro right?

My husband and I found a local floor pro that is trying to expand his business by teaching people how to redo their own hardwood floors, for a fee of course. He has suggested that we rent a "slow-speed sander" also called a "buffer". He said that this sander will show grooves less than a drum sander. The problem is that all of the sanding screens alone will cost $300, according to him. Is there a cheaper, yet still 'easy' option? Neither my husband or I have any experience with refinishing hardwood floors.

Re: Taking flooring 'lessons'...is the pro right?

You didn't mention how many square feet you are refinishing, so I can't tell you if $300 in screens is accurate. However, they typically cost around $5 each, so I would hope that figure he gave you also includes the polyurethane costs ($30 per gallon).
To contract out the job to someone else would be between $2.50 and $3.00 a square foot, so make your calculations and determine if the savings is worth it to you.
He's right about the sander - a square pad sander (which also has regular sandpaper sheets as well as screens) is more predictable and controllable than a drum sander. But since it is more gentle, it takes longer and may require more screens = more cost. A drum sander is an aggressive beast and not for the first timer, but if you're doing hardwoods you may go with the random orbital sander which is somewhere in between.
I did floors my first time by just reading a book about it and they came out great. But I would have liked to have someone there to ask questions, so this "lesson" thing may be a good route for those less confident. Whether it's worth it or not depends on what he's charging and what the fee includes.

Re: Taking flooring 'lessons'...is the pro right?

I did all my own floors, 6 rooms and a foyer with a drum sander and never had used one before. First, remember always to NEVER allow it to stay in one place, keep it moving and you'll be ok. Buy a DIY book on re-finishing floors and read it first. The sandpaper is cheaper than the disks so you will save a few bucks. Take up your edge mouldings and use an edge sander for along walls and corners. Read,Read,Read first! Good Luck!

Calcats ;)

A. Spruce
Re: Taking flooring 'lessons'...is the pro right?

Drum sanders are extremely aggressive and should only be used on full thickness flooring or decking.

Floor buffers are slow and perfect for wood laminate where you only want to remove a small amount.

Google both machines for pictures and instruction on use. As Calcats mentioned, you'll also need an edge sander to get along the walls. It is best if you remove the base moldings, but it isn't an absolute necessity.

Re: Taking flooring 'lessons'...is the pro right?

I don't know if lessons is necessary as I think you'd probably able to read most of the stuff he'd tell you and the rest is just experience and you can't "learn" that unless he's going to let you practice on his floor first. We just finished 700 sq feet and I might have $300 in finishing it with sander rental, sandpaper pads, stain and poly. (and 3 8 hr days of sanding and 5 hrs per pass for stain and poly application, but our time is free right :o) ) One thing I will say is always, ALWAYS sand WITH the grain, no matter the sander, orbital or not. No matter how many times you plan on going with the grain after going across it. DH went cross grain a couple times and then w/ grain like another 10 times and we can see swirl marks from the orbital going cross grain, but didn't notice it until I was applying stain. (our's was new reclaimed flooring that needed a lot of sanding, so we thought as long as we go w/ grain after going cross grain, it'd be ok. - wrong!) Let me know if you have any questions.

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