Wood floor refinishing can be a time-consuming and labor-intensive process. You will likely spend quite a bit of time getting to know your floors from your hands and knees. One of the first steps to refinish hardwood floors is the sanding process. A random orbital sander is often the best choice for homeowners looking to get involved in some wood floor refinishing. What exactly is a random orbital sander, and how does it work? Stay tuned. 

What Is A Random Orbital Sander? 

A random orbital sander is a handheld power tool. The sanding blade on the bottom works in a random orbital way. In other words, the sander works in a number of different directions at the same time, never repeating the same path. Many people think of a random orbital sander as being similar to a belt sander.

There are also some models of random orbital sanders that are explicitly made for floors. These are usually much larger machines that you can walk behind and push along the floors.

Since the random orbital sander pattern is unique, it helps not leave swirl marks on the floor that you are sanding. This is why, with these sanders, you will not need to be concerned about the direction of the wood grain

How To Sand Hardwood Floors With An Orbital Sander

Sanding a hardwood floor with an orbital sander is a long process. As with most home improvement projects, it is going to be more than just picking up a sander and applying it to the floor.

Following the proper steps helps to make sure you don’t leave irreversible damage to your floors. Here is some helpful information to make sure this project is a successful one for you. 

Preparing The Floor For Sanding

Make sure that your room is prepared for the sanding process. Remove anything from the room, including furniture, rugs, and any other material. The sanding process is going to create quite a bit of dust!

Make sure that you have the doorways into other rooms blocked off with plastic. Although you may not be able to contain all of the dust, this will undoubtedly help. 

Tips For Sanding Hardwood Floors Without Doing Damage

Random orbital sanders are a favorite choice for refinishing hardwood floors because they tend to do very little damage; however, there is still a chance that damage can be done. Here are some tips to make this project a successful one. 

  1. Remove any nails or staples that may be left on the floor. In addition to causing damage to your sander, these can cause damage to the floor as well. Don’t forget to wear the proper safety equipment including goggles and a dust mask.
  2. Start in the far corner of the room and work your way out. Make sure that you have a plan to address the entire room. You should work in straight rows going up and down, similar to mowing a lawn. 
  3. The random orbital sander is not as fast as a drum sander, but it is usually easier and cheaper to work with. Don’t push the sander too fast as you could end up causing a groove in the wood. Keep your speed consistent as you work with the sander. 
  4. You will always want to keep the random orbital sander level on the hardwood floor. If you have the back or front up or down, it will cause some uneven marks on your floor. Keep the sander as level as possible at all times, and make sure you do this in the corners of the room as well. 
  5. There are two main points to remember about the random orbital sander, and that is to put it down at full speed and pick it up at full speed. You never want to turn the sander on when it is on the floor, and you don’t want to pick it up when it’s made contact with the floor either. If you do this, you will undoubtedly see scratches and marks that will be very difficult to remove when you start the refinishing process. 

Grit Sequence is Important

Don’t forget to carefully consider the sandpaper’s grit that you use when working on this project. Most of the time, you will need a proper grit sequence for your particular floor. Depending on the current finish of the floor, the grit sequence will change. 

Final Steps for Refinishing Hardwood Floors

When you have your floors sanded and looking perfect, you can move towards the next steps of refinishing your hardwood floors. When you get to this point in the process, it can make sense to have a handheld orbital sander in addition to the larger floor sander.

If you come across any imperfections or leftover finish on the floor, you can quickly get to it with the handheld random orbital sander. Be sure to remember our tips for how to put down and pick up your sander.

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