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How To Sand A Wooden Floor (Blog)

4 Nov 2016

A well kept wooden floor can be a really beautiful feature in any home, and they are much easier to clean than carpets! Though a wooden floor does need some occasional care and attention to keep it in top shape. Sanding a wooden floor using a floor sander and re-coating it with varnish is a great way to get an old, stained wooden floor looking like new – and you don't need to be a professional to do it!

You will need:

Electric floor sander - Removes imperfections, paint, stains and varnish from wooden floor boards, giving you the perfect surface for a new coat of varnish.
Floor edging sander - For sanding the edges of a wooden floor, right up to the skirting, where the floor sander can't reach.

(Tip: Look out for floor sander hire package deals, which allow you to hire both the floor sander and edging sander at a reduced rate compared to hiring both separately!)

Sanding sheets
Protective gear – Goggles, gloves, dust mask, ear defenders
Hammer and nail punch
Flexible wood filler
White spirit
Varnish / finishing oil
Paint brush / roller

Preparing the floor for sanding

Remove any obstacles, including furniture and fixtures.

Close the door, open the windows. To stop dust spreading to the rest of the house, make sure you have everything you need in the room and seal around internal doors with masking tape.

Check the floor for raised nails – use a hammer and nail punch to hammer down any raised nails. Raised nails could damage the floor sander.

Fix any loose floor boards, fill any cracks with wood filler and replace any boards beyond repair.

Finally, clean the floor - removing any dirt and grease. Give the floor a thorough sweep to clear any debris that could spoil the finish.

How to use a Floor Sander

- How a floor sander works

As the sandpaper spins around the floor sander drum, it removes the old, tired layer of wood from the floorboards, unveiling a beautifully fresh floorboard below. The wood dust is then sucked up into the dust bag, which should be replaced, once full, with a new bag.

- Sanding sheets

Start with a coarse grade sanding sheet to remove the worst of the stains. Then switch to a medium grade, and finish with a fine abrasion sand paper.
Don't worry too much about how many sanding sheets to buy – if you're buying from us and you're not sure how many you'll need, you can stock up and we'll buy back any you don't use.

- Sanding the floor

Load the drum with sanding paper, following the instructions in the manual carefully and the advice given by the member of the hire team.

Don your safety gear! (Gloves, goggles and dust mask)

Position the floor sander near one wall with about two thirds of the floor in front of you. Keep the drum raised from the floor as you start the machine and then walk forward, slowly lowering the drum on to the wooden floor surface. (Note: You should sand in the direction opposite to the drum's motion)

Walk steadily, following the direction in which the floorboards are laid.

Don't apply any downward force to the sanding machine, just let the weight of the sander do the work.

As you get to the end of the pass, gradually lift the sanding drum from the floor.

Repeat the process back over the same path, to where you started.

To continue, lift the drum from the floor and position it for another run that overlaps the strip you have previously sanded by about 7cm and repeat this cycle. You may have to repeat the entire process twice over the same surface, using different grades of sandpaper each time, to achieve the best finish.

Finishing the Edges

Don't try to get close to trim, skirting board, doors, walls, etc. with the electric floor sander, as you could damage them. For the perfect finish, use a floor edging sander to get right up to the edges and finish the floor sanding job off properly.

Cleaning the bare wooden floor

For the perfect finish you need to remove any dust from the floor.

Vacuum the floorboards and wipe over the surface using a cloth dampened with white spirit, to remove any finer dust that could spoil the finish.

Wear soft soled shoes (or no shoes at all) at this stage, to avoid marking the freshly sanded wooden floor.

Sealing & varnishing the wooden floor

Seal the floorboards with either a clear wood finish or paint. Use a quick-drying acrylic floor varnish if you want to keep the natural grain of the timber visible.

Use a brush or a small foam roller to apply at least two coats (three for hard wearing areas such as hallways). Start varnishing the floor in the furthest corner of the room from the door, and work back to the door. Leave to dry overnight.

For the best finish, complete the varnishing process in one day.


Before using the floor sander, read the manual thoroughly, as each model may operate slightly differently.

You must have the appropriate safety equipment, including safety glasses and a dust mask – as even though the floor sander has a dust bag, this does not collect all of the dust.

Don't let any part of your body get near the drum whilst the floor sander is plugged in.

Make sure you switch off and unplug the sander before you try to change the sandpaper or dispose of the dust bag.

You must not burn a full/used dust bag, as it may explode.

Adjust the arm of the sanding machine to suit your arm length to avoid injury and ensure full control of floor sander.

Floor Sander Hire

We have floor sanders and edging sanders for hire nationwide. We also have a great floor sander package deal - which gives you both the electric floor sander and edging sander at a reduced hire rate compared to hiring both separately! You can book floor sander hire online or over the phone with our hire team and collect from your nearest collection point, or we can deliver the floor sanders to your door!