Sanding a Floor with a Sanding Machine

Sanding a Floor

It takes a degree of skill to operate sanding machines, and it is essential that you protect yourself from inhaling dust and observe a number of vital safety precautions.



Before sanding, you must prepare the floor suitably. You should make sure you have prepared for the work before you hire a sanding machine — otherwise you are paying for all the time that the machine stands idle.


If there are many large gaps between boards, it may be worth lifting all the boards, moving them along and inserting an extra piece at the end. Alternatively, one or two large gaps could be filled with wooden fillets, glued and hammered in place, then planed smooth once the glue has dried. (Small gaps can be filled with wood filler.)

All traces of old polish should be removed with steel wool and white spirit or turpentine so that the sander does not become clogged. Nail down loose boards and punch all nail-heads below the surface.

Finally, prepare the room in general by clearing furniture, taking down curtains and covering light fittings. Tape around the doors to minimize the amount of dust percolating through the house. Open all the windows.


Using Sanding Machines

You will need two types of sander: a large belt sander and an edging (rotary) sander. The belt sander is an upright machine with a dust collecting bag and a revolving drum around which abrasive paper is wrapped. The edging sander is smaller and lighter and has an abrasive sheet attached to a rubber pad. Both types of machine can be hired from specialist shops, which also supply abrasive paper and protective gear.

Ask for a demonstration when you hire or buy the equipment. Follow the instruction booklet when fitting the abrasive paper. Always tilt the drum of a belt sander back from the floor before switching on. Once it is on, lower it gently. You must keep moving when you are using it: if the sander is left running while it is stationary it will gouge holes in the floor. Tilt it up at the start and finish of each row.


Materials and Equipment

• belt sander for the main floor area

• edging (rotary) sander for the edges

• shave hook or hook scraper for awkward areas

• nail punch and hammer

• coarse-, medium- and fine-grade abrasive paper

• protective gear (dust mask, ear muffs, goggles)

• vacuum cleaner



1. Punch all nail-heads below the surface of the boards, using a nail punch and a claw hammer.

2. Fit coarse-grade paper onto the belt sander, following the operating instructions.

3. Before switching on, tilt the sander so that the drum is clear of the floor. Tilt up at the beginning and end of each row.

4. Sand backwards and forwards, working diagonally at an angle of 45 degrees. Use coarse abrasive paper and overlap each row by about 7.5cm/3in. Follow this by sanding back and forth in the direction of the grain of the board, using first medium-grade and then fine paper.

5. Use an edging sander for edges, following the grain wherever possible and keeping moving while the machine is switched on.

6. For awkward corners, use a hook scraper or a shave hook. Sand by hand any small patches you may have missed.

* Vacuum the floor several times during the course of the sanding. Allow the dust to settle overnight before final vacuuming. Clean with white spirit or turpentine before applying varnish or stain.



Always wear a dust mask, ear muffs and goggles. Drape the cord of the sander over your shoulder to ensure that it is kept well out of the path of the machine. Always make sure the machine is switched off and disconnected from the mains when you are changing paper.

01. June 2011 by admin
Categories: Decorating, Flooring | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Sanding a Floor with a Sanding Machine


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