How to Sand Oak Hardwood Flooring How to Sand Oak Hardwood Flooring

What You'll Need
Electric sander for floors (rent is recommended)
Shop Vac
Safety goggles
Dust mask
Stain (optional)
Varnish (polyurethane recommended)
Brush for varnish
Setting awl

Sanding and refinishing your oak hardwood flooring can be a long, labor intensive job but not an impossible one for the do it yourselfer. It takes the correct tools, a couple of days and some muscle.

Step 1 - Prepare the Floor

Remove all furniture from the room and all draperies or curtains. Remove all pictures on the wall. This is to prevent having to dust and clean them later. Sweep the floor of all dirt, dust and debris and dispose of it.

Check the floor for nails that are above the surface of the floor. Use your hammer and setting awl to pound them below the surface. A protruding nail can cut your foot and it can also rip up expensive sandpaper discs.

Step 2 - Renting a Sander

When you rent a sander you will most likely see two types. There are drum sanders that has a drum that rotates and strips the old varnish and smooths the floor with this rotating sandpaper. It sands in vertical lines. This type of sander cannot be maneuvered into the last 2 inches or so of floor all the way around the room, so if you rent this type you will also need a hand sander to finish that area. The other type of sander is a disc sander. This sander has 2 wheels that rotate and sand the floor in a circular pattern across the grain. Most people prefer this type of sander as it is smaller, more light weight and will sand the entire floor. Ask your rental agent about the type that also suctions the sanding dust at the same time. While this type doesn't remove all the dust, it removes a substantial amount.

While you're at the rental store, ask for advice on the types of sandpaper you need for the particular sander you are renting. It is best to purchase it from them. Generally you will use 3 types, course for the first sanding to remove bad flaws and most of the varnish, medium for a second pass over the floor to refine it and remove the rest of the varnish and fine to smooth it and get ready to varnish it.

Step 3 - Sanding the Floor

When you get the sander home, install the first type of sandpaper you are using and start in the furthest corner from the door and work toward the door. Move the sander at an even pace back and forth over the floor. Do the entire room this way being careful to not allow the sander to stay in one area for very long as it will groove the floor. Use the shop vac to remove any dust and install the next sandpaper and repeat. Repeat this step again until you are finished.

Step 4 - Stain and Varnish

Oak hardwood flooring has a beautiful color that really doesn't require a stain but you can add one if you want to darken it a bit. Stain first if you are doing so, and allow to dry a few hours.

Next you can apply the varnish. Polyurethane varnish is recommended over oil based varnish as it dries more quickly and is far easier to maintain. Start in the furthest corner from the door and apply in long sweeping patterns. Do not stir the varnish as it will create bubbles that will appear on your floor and make it have a textured look.

Allow the varnish to dry for 24 hours, then re-coat.

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