Choose the right sanding tools to get your new wood floor ready for finishing.
Now that the floor is installed, it is already starting to transform the space. The next step is to sand the floor. This may sound like too much work and too much of a mess. A lot of floors come prefinished, and they’re actually a nice option. The finishes on them are more durable than anything I can apply in the field at the moment. They do have their little drawbacks, however. When you’re working with a prefinished floor, you have to be a little careful of dropping things on them. I’d be able to sand out a dent on a traditional floor, but on a prefinished floor, I’d have to rip out the dented board; that takes a lot of time.
In between sandings, you have to vacuum the floor. If grit and sawdust stay under the sanding machine, they will create more scratches and prevent the abrasive from working properly. A commercial belt sander sands and flattens the floor the quickest. The buffing machine blends in the effects of the different types of sanding equipment, preventing the finish or stain from showing color variations. A triplanetary sander has three discs that rotate while at the same time the large disc rotates in the opposite direction, flattening the floor. This sander comes in handy when the floor has both soft and hard woods, or woods of different species. Another sander is the multi-disc, and it is very user-friendly. It has four orbitals on the bottom and fits right up to the corners. Someone sanding a floor for the first time really can’t screw it up using a multi-disc sander. The only thing you have to worry about is keeping the floor clean. If the abrasive comes off and stays under the sander, it’s going to continue to scratch the floor. You also have to follow the sanding sequence from very rough to very fine.
The belt sander can’t get up to the corners, so an edge sander comes in handy. If there are radiators, a longer edge sander can slide underneath, helping you avoid hours of hand scraping. As a last step, I’d use a very user-friendly orbital sander to get out the remaining scratches on the floor. It’s available in every home store.
Some specialty items available at home stores include this little triangular sander to get right into corners. If you do have to hand scrape as the final step, this hand scraping tool gets right into the corners. It takes off small amounts of wood in very tight areas.
Combining his graduate work in engineering and wood science with his passion for hardwood flooring, Charles Peterson has become a nationally recognized hardwood flooring specialist. He is also president of the International Parquetry Historical Society and of Wood Flooring Education, and is the founder of www.woodflooringedu.org.