How To Sand Hardwood Floors

By Cezar

Sanding hardwood floors is a transformative project that can breathe new life into your home’s interior. Whether tackling this as a DIY enthusiast or considering professional help, this detailed guide will equip you with the knowledge and tools needed to achieve stunning results. Learn how to sand hardwood floors effectively and safely.

Before You Begin: Assessing Your Floors

Before diving into sanding, it’s crucial to assess your hardwood floors to determine their type and condition.

— Wood Type and Condition. American homes often feature maple, birch, or cherry hardwood, each with varying sanding needs. Research your wood type to tailor your approach. For example, maple is harder than pine and can withstand more aggressive sanding.
— Thickness Matters. Solid hardwood floors can be sanded multiple times, while engineered hardwood with a thin veneer layer is more delicate. Consider the number of previous sanding sessions your floors may have undergone.
— Solid vs. Engineered Hardwood. Solid hardwood comprises the entire thickness of the floor, whereas engineered hardwood features a thin layer of hardwood over a plywood core. Engineered floors offer greater flexibility in installation methods compared to solid wood, making them suitable for various environments.

Preparation Steps: Getting Ready to Sand

  1. Clear the Room: Remove furniture, rugs, and everything else to create a clean workspace and protect your belongings from dust.
  2. Nail Management: Hammer down any protruding nails to prevent damage to your sander and ensure a smooth sanding surface.
  3. Dust Protection: Seal doorways and vents with plastic sheeting secured by painter’s tape. Wear a respirator, safety glasses, and consider ear protection.

How To Sand Hardwood Floors

What You’ll Need: Gathering the Essentials

  • Protective Gear: Safety glasses, a respirator, and earplugs or earmuffs are essential.
  • Sanding Tools:
    – Drum/Belt Sander: Ideal for large areas.
    – Edge Sander: For corners, edges, and tight spaces.
    – Sanding Pole: Useful for reaching high or awkward areas.
  • Sandpaper:
    – Coarse Grit (around 60 grit): Initial sanding.
    – Medium Grit (around 80 grit): Smoothing after initial sanding.
    – Fine Grit (around 100 grit): Final sanding for a polished finish.
  • Other Supplies:
    – Plastic Sheeting and Painter’s Tape: Protect furniture and seal the room.
    – Wood Filler: Fill gaps and imperfections before sanding.
    – Vacuum Cleaner: Essential for cleaning up dust.

Techniques for Sanding Hardwood Floors

  1. Initial Sanding (Coarse Grit): Start with coarse grit sandpaper to remove old finish and level the floor, working in the direction of the wood grain with even pressure.
  2. Intermediate Sanding (Medium Grit): Use medium grit sandpaper to further smooth the surface, making multiple passes for uniformity.
  3. Final Sanding (Fine Grit): Finish with fine-grit sandpaper to refine the surface for sealing or staining, eliminating minor imperfections.
  4. Edge Sander: Use the edge sander for corners and edges unreachable by the drum sander. Be cautious and maintain control for consistent results.

When to Call a Professional

  1. Extensive Damage: Floors with significant gaps, warping, or structural issues may require a professional’s expertise.
  2. Uncertain Wood Type: If unsure about your floor’s wood species or condition, consulting a professional ensures proper treatment.
  3. Lack of Experience: If you’re new to DIY projects or feel unsure about sanding, hiring a professional is wise.

After Sanding: The Finishing Touches

  • Cleaning the Dust: Thoroughly vacuum the entire floor surface to remove sanding dust and debris. Use a damp cloth to remove any remaining dust before finishing.
  • Applying the Finish: Choose a finish based on your preferences and needs:
  • Staining (Optional): Apply wood stain to alter the colour of the floor. Test in a small inconspicuous area first.
  • Sealing: Apply a protective sealant, such as polyurethane or varnish, to enhance durability and provide a glossy or matte finish.
  • Buffing (Optional): After the final coat of finish dries, gently buff the floor with a polishing pad to achieve a smooth, polished surface.


Sanding hardwood floors requires careful planning and execution. This guide empowers you to achieve professional-quality results, whether you DIY or hire a professional. By following these steps, you can transform your hardwood floors into a beautiful and long-lasting feature of your home. Happy sanding!