How To Sand Hardwood Floors │Unlock The Complete Advice

Does your home have a hardwood floor that you don’t know how to maintain?

Fear not! We have the proper information for you to get rid of that old finish that doesn’t look good on your floor anymore.

Follow the next steps of our how to sand hardwood floors guide to make the surfaces of your house look as beautiful and shiny as they can be!

Preparation Steps

As with any other operation, preparation is a must if you want to sand hardwood floors.

  1. Make sure to cover the vents, the house doorways, and the light fixtures. Using plastic protects them from getting damaged, and it makes it easier to clean up the dust afterward.
  2. To keep the dust controlled, you could use a HEPA-Filter vacuum too. Attach it to the sander. It might not keep everything clean, but it does help.
  3. Also, get everyone else out of the house. There’s no need to have the rest of the family inside if they might be affected by debris or dust.
  4. As a last security measure, inspect the floor surface to remove nails and staples that might be lying around. If some nails are sticking up, use the hammer to get them out.

Setting Up The Tools

For this task, you’ll need a drum sander. You can get it from a rental store where they’ll provide everything you need to know about them. Be cautious and make sure the rear wheel of the sander is tight, and it stands either flat or nearly flat over the surface.

Alternatively, an orbital sander works too. It is easier to use but takes longer.

After choosing drum sander, you’ll need to install the coarse grit sandpaper. To align it properly, load the paper around the drum. Secure the paper trailing end, and then the leading end. Plenty of sanders secure them using screws, while many others use a snap bar that demands sandpaper shims.

About which one to use, you can start with 36-Grit sandpaper. It is more convenient for most floors. However, if your floor has a thin finish layer, you could go ahead and start using 60-Grit sandpaper.

Once you’ve set up, you could start by doing some practice. Choose a small area of the floor that isn’t visible regularly, like one covered by furniture. Then, lift the drum sander and run it to make it reach its full speed before you lower it back. As soon as it touches the floor, it will move, so be ready.

Check everything is functioning, especially the dust bag. Wear your protection gear, and let’s get started.

  • Step 1: Sanding Hardwood Floor

During the first steps, move the sander at a 7 or 15 degrees angle directly towards the direction of the boards. This process allows you to level tiny variations over the surface.

Furthermore, it keeps issues like dish out or waves, caused when an uneven floor goes through sanding in certain spots more than others.

  • Step 2: Maintain Your Rhythm

Don’t lose consistency. Keep sanding the entire area at the same angle, at a steady and stable speed. Remember not to stand still over a specific area, or it will ruin the floor.

  • Step 3: Go Over All of the Surface

As soon as you reach the wall, turn the sander back and place it slightly on the side of the area where you first started. Then, repeat the operation until you sand all of the surfaces.

If you feel like going over one spot numerous times, make sure to lift the lever while you’re reversing the direction. It will raise the drum off the floor which avoids leaving marks.

Observation: If you’re working in a large area, you might need to change the sandpaper eventually.

  • Step 4: Taking Care Of The Room Short Side

Remember where you started? Well, it is likely that the area remains unsanded, even if it is a small portion. Go back and go over it using the same angle as before, and take the proper precautions.

  • Step 5: Cleaning Up

Once the dust settles, use a tool to clean it up. Any vacuum will do the trick, but a professional model will get rid of every particle leaving your floor shiny.

Regardless of which one you choose, make sure it has soft wheels. It won’t leave marks or dents over the surface.

A Smooth Sanding

The previous phase might’ve gotten rid of the old finish, but there could still be some scratches visible. We’ll take care of that next.

  • Step 1: Change The Grit Sandpaper

Switch the previous sandpaper to a 60-Grit on the drum sander. Make sure to use aluminum oxide sandpaper featuring medium tension.

  • Step 2: Keeping Track Of Your Progress

If you’re having trouble knowing whether you’re being successful or not, use a pencil to leave a light mark over it. Then, use the sander. Inspect if you’ve removed the marks to confirm the efficiency of your operation.

It might not be necessary, but it is an effective method to reassure yourself about what you’re doing. You can continue using this technique for the next steps too.

  • Start 3: Starting From The Opposite Side

During the first pass, you started with a long run followed with a short passing through. Now, you’ll begin your operation from the opposite wall.

  • Step 4: Sand Along The Boards

Don’t follow the same diagonal route you did the last time because it might leave unpleasant results over the floor. This time, you’ll be sanding following along the boards. After completing the route, use a vacuum to clean the dust.

  • Step 5: Using The 80-Grit Sandpaper

The next step will be to buff using 80-Grit sandpaper. A floor buffer makes this operation faster and better, but the drum sander works well too. This step allows you to remove the scratches left by the 60-Grit sandpaper. Again, use the vacuum to clean the dust.

  • Step 6: Using The 100-Grit Sandpaper

To finish some floors, you’ll need to use the 100-grit sandpaper. However, this step is only necessary if you’re planning to stain the surface later on. It is necessary if you have maple or birch floors, as well. The 80-Grit sandpaper scratches are more visible over those surfaces.

Sanding the Edges of the Room

The next step would be to sand the edges of the room. If you’re using an orbital sander, chances are you’ve already reached near the walls. Skip the following steps if that’s the case. Instead, use any handheld to remove the corners finish.

This task is a bit tricky if you don’t have the proper tools, which is why you’ll need a lot of patience to follow through.

  • Step 1: Using The Edge Sander

An edge sander is a handheld tool that allows homeowners to have access to those tight spots like the wall’s edges.

  • Step 2: A 36-Grit For The Perfect Finish

The corners are only a small portion of the house, and you won’t need to follow the steps you made to sand the rest of the floor. You want to remove the old finish using a coarse 36-Grit.

  • Step 3: Sanding Clockwise

The next step is moving the edge sander in both directions, back and forth, straight across the wall edges in a smooth and small triangular movement.

These movements make sure there aren’t any mark left while you’re sanding.

  • Step 4: Follow through with Finer Sandpaper

36-Grit has served its purpose by this point. Change it to 80-Grit sandpaper. Continue the sanding operation with the movements described above up until the edges have a similar look to the rest of the floor.

You can use 100-Grit sandpaper too, but you’ll need to be extra careful with it. Otherwise, you’ll burn the floor as well as the paper.

If a 100-Grit is what want to use, make sure to combine it with a sander working at a slow speed setup. Additionally, open coat sandpaper would work better for this task.

  • Step 5: Cleaning The Dust

Clean the particles and debris that could’ve resulted from your previous operations, and the floor will be done. Then, you’ll be ready to clean it and polish it.


After reading our guide about how to sand hardwood floor, you are now aware of what you need to do, and how you need to do it. It might be complicated, but it isn’t impossible.

Get your tools ready and let’s go for that perfect finish!

Recommended Resources:

Last Updated on September 13, 2020 by Robert Patrick

Author Profile

Robert Patrick
Robert Patrick is the Chief Editor of Tools Adventure.He spent around 25 years in the construction and woodworking industry as a professional worker.Based on his experiences with the different type of tools; he is sharing his opinion about various tools so that a beginner can get started right away.Happy reading!