Diy & Tools

Can You Sand Hardwood Floors with an Orbital Sander – Step By Step Guide

If you have a hardwood floor that has a damaged layer due to the things like sunlight exposure and stains, so urgent sanding and refinishing is the solution. To fix the issue of the damaged layer of the floor, you must sand hardwood floors with an orbital sander. Sanding removes the damaged layer of hardwood and leaves it almost as good as new.

How To Sand Hardwood Floors With An Orbital Sander

By refinishing a hard floor, you give life to the entire room again. Many rooms that look dull, have been put new life into with an application of sanding and sealing. After these steps applying some coats will keep it shine for years.

Is it Worth Hiring An Expert To Sand Hardwood Floors?

Hiring a professional could cost more, so doing it yourself can save your money. Only hard work and extra time are required to DIY and you will be spending far less money than hiring a professional. An average-sized house is only a weekend project if you have the right preparation.

Tools to Sand Hardwood Floors With an Orbital Sander:

  • Orbital sander
  • Sandpaper
  • Vacuum
  • A cloth
  • Any good quality sealer

Sanding Hardwood Floors With an Orbital Sander:

  • Preparing the floor
  • Precautions Before starting
  • Find out the thickness of the floor
  • Choosing the sandpaper
  • The procedure of sanding the floor
  • Vacuum the dust
  • Applying the sealer to refinish the floor

7 Steps Formula to Sand Hardwood Floors with an Orbital Sander

Let us look at the steps of how to sand hardwood floors with an orbital sander in detail to get a better idea.

1. Preparing the floor

Before you start sanding your floor, you must keep in mind that you have removed all of the stains from it. For the corners that are not accessible easily, use fine sandpaper and scrap the old stains.

Remove the furniture and other equipment from the room. If there are curtains or shades, remove them. In case, removing them is not possible, make sure to cover them with plastic tightly and lift them 4 feet off the ground.

Gently rub the surface with your hand to get an idea about the roughest part of the floor. Another idea is to move your head down and look at the surface of the floor from ground level.

2. Precautions Before starting

Dust is thrown into the air during sanding which increases the chances of inhaling dangerous impurities. So always use gloves, goggles, facemask for protection from the dust. Use earplugs to protect yourself from noise. If there is any window in the room, open it so that the dust goes out.

Wear suitable clothes and knee pads to avoid the joint problem. Take frequent breaks.

3. Find out the thickness of the floor

The hardwood floor must be .75 inches thick to sand. Less than this thickness could damage the flooring. If the floor is thin then call a professional.

4. Choosing the sandpaper

During the process of sanding, you will need grits of different sizes. Open face sandpaper should be selected because it is easy to use as well as inexpensive.

In the first round of manual sanding, coarser grits of sandpaper are used to completely remove the old finish from the wood.

In the process of sanding finer grits will be used one by one to get a smooth finish.

The final sanding can be finished with 100 grit paper. 20 grit sandpaper is required to paint on the floor. A minimum of 36 is required for varnish. Depending on the condition of the floor, buy extra sandpaper.

5. The procedure of sanding the floor

Orbital sander must be used as though you are cutting down grass with a machine. Go ahead row by row and overlapping lines by half of Sander’s width. To ensure that the sanding is perfect, make several passes over the same part of the floor.

In the area where the orbital sander is difficult to go to, use sandpaper manually, to remove the stains.

6. Vacuum the Dust

After the sanding process, use a vacuum to remove all the dust from the sanding. Pick up a cloth to remove any dust or hair that has been left on the floor. If a hair of a screw is trapped inside the polyurethane, then sand over the strand of hair and dig it with a sharp pin.

7. Applying the Sealer to Refinish the Floor:

Many owners of the houses do not use sealers to refinish their floors. But it is recommended that consider sealing it with a good quality sealer. Do not use a water-based polyurethane sealer but rather use an oil-based one.

Check that the sealer is spread uniformly. You have to leave the room and let it dry for 48 – 72 hours. After that, you can place your furniture back.

Time duration required to sand a hardwood floor by orbital sander:

If a hardwood floor is in good condition and flat then an orbital sander will be used 2 to 3 times. This means to sand hardwood floors with an orbital sander, 2 – 4 days are required for a room.

The Best Floor Sander for Beginning DIYs:

A random orbital sander is the best choice for do-it-yourself floor finishing. It takes longer to remove old finishes than a drum sander, but you don’t need a great experience to use a random orbital sander. And most important thing is that there is a very low chance of permanently damaging the floor.

Clarke-American random orbital sanders models are easy to use and available for rental in every home center.

U-Sand is another model available for rent but it is difficult to control. It can take longer to sand because its sanding surface is compact.

Important Tips:

  • Be careful, no matter which random orbital machine you have rented.
  • When you lower it to the floor, the sander must be running at full speed.
  • Move the sander quickly across the boards.
  • While the machine is resting on the floor, never turn it off.

If you have done any of these mistakes, this will result in circular scratches on the floor of the surface. During sanding, they may not be seen but when you will apply the finish they will show up. If it’s laminate flooring then you can remove the scratches using some of the DIY methods.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Orbital Sander:


  • No skill is required to use it.
  • It is low cost.
  • No great experience is required.


  • It will take a long time to complete.
  • The old finish will take a lot of effort to remove.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use an orbital sander to sand wood floors?

Yes, for the wood floors that need light refreshing, you can use an orbital sander. Some companies use these machines for fine sanding.

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

You can use an orbital sander until your floor is in good condition. If you apply 2 – 3 times to a room, 2 – 4 days will be required to complete it. It takes twice as long on a handheld orbital

Our Verdict:

In this article, we have mentioned the procedure to sand hardwood floors with an orbital sander. All the details are given that if you hire a professional to do it, it will be very costly. The DIY route can save a lot of money.

All you need is little hard work and investment in terms of time.  Besides this, not only do you need to select the correct sandpaper grit, but also think about taking care of your safety.

We hope the information given in this article will be helpful for you.

About author


Edward is a specialist in DIY Tools and managing his two stores in the United States. He is offering his services as an expert writer according to his skills in his free time. We acknowledge his services and expertise offered to He always enjoys working on DIY Tools and their latest trends to improve home beauty.
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