How To Sand Hardwood Floors With Orbital Sander

Hardwood floors look elegant and beautify any room it is present. Their durability feature and ease of maintenance make them widely used among homeowners. For maintenance, refinishing your hardwood floor is what you need to do multiple times during your wood floor lifespan and knowing how to sand hardwood floors with orbital sander is also very important because hiring a professional to do this for you every single time will sum up to a lot of money.

In this article, we will provide you with the necessary procedures to sand hardwood floors with an orbital sander. First, we need to understand if an orbital sander can be used for sanding on hardwood floors.


Can you sand wood floor with an orbital sander?

Yes, an orbital sander is the best tool for sanding hardwood floors. It is effective in removing rough surfaces, leaves fewer scuff marks, and is easy to work with as a beginner. Compared to a drum sander, an orbital sander is more affordable. It will function in a similar way as a drum sander but requires more time. Also, you do not need to worry about where you move with the wood grain when working with an orbital sander.

How To Sand Hardwood Floors With Orbital Sander

How to sand hardwood floors with orbital sander?

Now, that you are convinced that you can use an orbital sander on your hardwood floor, let’s look at the following steps to carry out the task. First, you need to get your materials ready.

Materials Needed:

  • Sandpaper
  • Pole sander
  • Plastic sheets
  • 120-grit sanding screen
  • Nail sets
  • Paintbrush
  • Painter’s tape
  • Putty knife
  • Floor finisher
  • Denatured alcohol or mineral spirits
  • Protective goggles
  • Gloves
  • Earplugs
  • Dust mask
  • Vacuum and mop
  1. Prepare the floor

It is imperative to clear the room and prepare your floor before you begin to sand your hardwood floors. Move out all the furniture in the room. For doors, vents, windows, and some other things you can’t move ensure to protect them with plastic sheets and secure them with painter’s tape so that they won’t be covered in dust.

Make use of pliers to get rid of any staples or nails. If you notice any loose wooden boards, make sure to nail them down appropriately.  Inspect the floor for some minutes to look out for any existing damage. Deal with any observed scratches and holes with a putty knife and wood filler.

Allow it to dry completely and then wipe the floor with a dampened cloth to get rid of dust and the uneven surfaces. Apply a hardwood cleaner to the floor for thorough cleaning. After you are done cleaning, let it dry fully before proceeding.


  1. Put on protective equipment

Before going deep into the work, your safety is important. Wear your goggles, dust mask, gloves, and earplugs to protect yourself from dust and noise. Sanding results in a lot of debris in the air, increasing the risk of inhaling hazardous pollutants. Open your windows to allow sufficient ventilation and a great means to disperse the dust.


  1. Use the right sandpaper

Next, choose the right sandpaper for your orbital sander. Refinishing an old hardwood floor will require you to remove old stains, paint, or varnish. To effectively do that, you will need fairly coarse sandpaper. You need a minimum of 20-grit sandpaper to remove paint and a minimum of 36-grit sandpaper to remove varnish and shellac.

You will be able to use finer sandpaper, like 100-grit sandpaper as you proceed to finer finishing. So, ensure to get ready various types of sandpaper for this task.


  1. Sand the floor

You are now at the stage of doing the real work. First, attach the sandpaper to the orbital sander. For the first stage of sanding, start with the coarsest grain, that is, 30 to 40 grains. Make use of finer grain sandpapers as you proceed with the stage of sanding to achieve the smoothest finish by the end.

You will need various kinds of sandpapers based on the previously applied finish on your wood floor. For example, you will require 20-grit sandpaper to remove the finish if your hardwood floor has a top coat of paint. Varnish on the other hand needs 36-grit sandpaper.

Now, position the orbital sander on your floor to align the grain along the length of the hardwood boards. Do not angle the sander so you won’t end up having marks on your floor. Select the point of the floor you will start sanding based on the shape of the room. You can decide to start at the center of the room.

While sanding, move the sander in a similar way to a lawnmower. Carefully sand the wood patch by patch without leaving any area unattended to. You can go over the same patch many times to get an even and smooth surface.


  1. Vacuum and Mop the floor

Sanding a hardwood floor generates a whole lot of dust in the air. Before you can go ahead and finish the floor, cleaning the floor is a necessity. Get a good vacuum to suck up all found dust. Then, thoroughly mop the floor or use a damp cloth to wipe away the residue.

  1. Seal and finish the floor

Technically, a good hardwood floor does not need to be sealed. But, leaving your floor exposed especially in the face of high traffic would dull your wood floor quickly. If you are sealing your wood floor, make use of an oil-based polyurethane sealer for the hardest-wearing surface. You can go with a water-based sealer for areas with limited traffic.

You can apply the sealants using a paintbrush or a high-density foam roller. Work with gloves to avoid skin irritation. Allow the sealant to dry for about 48 to 72 hours after spreading them evenly on the floor.


How long does it take to sand a floor with an orbital sander?

It takes about 2 to 4 days to sand a hardwood floor with an orbital sander per room as opposed to 1 to 2 days with a full sanding kit. If your floor is flat and in good condition, it might not take up to that time.

How To Sand Hardwood Floors With Orbital Sander

When do you need an orbital sander?

This is a very important question that most homeowners ask. Though orbital sanders are a good choice for sanding hardwood floors, their suitability is dependent on some factors. You need to first understand the kind of hardwood you are dealing with, then your purpose for sanding.

The orbital sander is a milder kind of wood floor sander, so you don’t need to go for it if what you want is something aggressive as a drum sander. You can make use of an orbital sander if you are sanding wood floors with a very thin wear layer. You will feel more at ease as regards eating off the wear layer.

For light and medium-task sanding procedures, this tool allows you to work properly.  There are some advantages attached to using an orbital sander. Its square root can enter into edges and corners easily.


Also Read: Top 6 Best Sander for removing paint from wood 

How do you put sandpaper on an orbital sander?

It is quite simple to put sandpaper on an orbital sander. It can be done quickly, allowing you to change grits as you work. Turn the orbital sander on its side and then place it on a flat surface so it can be easy to reach the pad. Make sure to do this with the sander unplugged. Next, detach the locking clamp that holds the sandpaper in place and then pull the worn sandpaper free.

Mistakes to avoid

  1. Do not seal your floor without cleaning and wiping away all the dust generated through the sanding process.
  2. Avoid starting with fine-grit as this will only make it more stressful to remove old paint, shellac, or varnish. Begin with coarse sandpaper for removing old stains, and then proceed with finer sandpaper to finish it off.
  3. Ensure to always wear protective materials when sanding to prevent inhaling dust.
  4. Open all windows so that dust can be easily dispersed. Enough ventilation is also needed.

Conclusion: How To Sand Hardwood Floors With Orbital Sander

Using an orbital sander to sand hardwood floors is not that hard of a project but time-consuming. So, you need to be patient and take your time. It is typically easier to operate with an orbital sander and affordable than random sanders. It also makes use of sandpaper which is cheaper than the custom-made disks of random orbital sanders.

Sanding hardwood floor will require you to prepare the floor, choose the right sandpaper, sand the floor, vacuum, and then finally reseal the wood floor. Before starting this project, place your safety as the priority. Wear a protective goggle, a face mask to protect yourself from dust, and an earplug to block out the noise produced from sanding.

There are also mistakes you need to avoid before and during the sanding process that has been covered above. Now, that you know it is safe to use an orbital sander, you can use this guide to achieve a perfect refinish of your hardwood floors.