Sanding 101

On Saturday we went to pick up a drum sander at Home Depot to rent for a week.  We’re really hoping to get all of the floors sanded in a week.  We figure that’s a pretty aggressive schedule for over 6500 sq ft, but that’s our plan.

Needless to say, we were super excited to get to use a drum sander again.  Just kidding, the thought of using one on this huge space wasn’t something we looked forward to at all.  As soon as we showed up at Home Depot in the equipment rental area, we ran into this extremely helpful gentleman.  He actually works for a flooring company and he told us that he used a drum sander on his home floor and thankfully he was going for a rustic look or all of the visible swirls would have been a real problem.  He highly recommended using an orbital deck floor sander, like the one shown below.  It has a rectangular shaped sanding pad, which makes getting next to walls much, much easier.  I am so thankful for this guy sharing his knowledge!


Since we weren’t quite sure how to use one, the associate at the rental desk viewed a instructional video with us and gave us some pointers.  She also made sure we had sandpaper and pads.  According to the video, we would need 163 squares of sandpaper.  Seriously?! We decided that 7 sheets of 36 grit, 20 sheets of 80 grit and 3 of the pads that fit on the machine (the sandpaper attaches with adhesive to the pad) would be a good start.  Especially since we didn’t really know how it would work to sand these old, soft pine floors.

It took 2 strong men to carry the massive thing up 2 flights of stairs!  And then we started sanding.  In the beginning it was like one of those first time DIY or first time flippers shows!  We used an extension cord, turned the machine on and hoped for the best.  Within seconds, we tripped the breaker.  Our third floor has older electric connections but the first floor has new electric connections that we had run when we bought the building.  So we decided to run the extension cord down 2 flights of stairs to the first floor.

So now we’re sure this is going to work!  Super excited to get started!  Turn the machine on and it runs for about 30 seconds and the fuse on the machine trips.  So I reset the fuse.  Turn the machine on and it runs for about 30 seconds and the fuse trips again.  This happens about another 20 times before we decided to get our phones out and research this problem.  We had a race to see who could find info the quickest.  Brian won!  The problem was likely the extension cord!

So we unplug the extension cord and voila, it works continuously!  Then we decide the best way to sand – with this type of sander you do not have to follow the grain, you can go against the grain.  My suggestion was to go with the grain because you always go with the grain when you sand or paint, right?  After sanding for hours yesterday, I suggested to Brian that he try going against the grain.  The result?  It works much, much better!  By the time we left around 8 pm on Sunday, I think we have about half of the floor sanded with the first pass of 36 grit paper.

Also, after our first night of sanding, we knew we needed a lot more sand paper and pads.  I went to 2 different Home Depot stores on Sunday morning to get more.  We’re going to see how 50 sheets of each grit and 30 pads work.  Luckily, Home Depot will take back whatever you don’t use and I’d rather return supplies than have to drive to Evansville again for more.


See the difference in the sanded and not sanded floors? We swept and vacuumed the floor many times prior to sanding but the sanding is taking up lots of dirt and I think it looks great. We will have to replace some planks but we love the industrial look!  We definitely didn’t want a perfect floor, we wanted the floor to show it’s history, if that makes sense.  I actually think we might me our target date of completing this project by the end of the week or the end of next weekend.

Thanks for joining our journey!


4 Comments on “Sanding 101

  1. We spent WEEKS of constant sanding on our floors. Original hardwood from the mid 60s…that was covered in carpet during the 70s carpet craze. I attribute the orbital sanding to my ruptured disc as I had to have back surgery soon afterward!!!
    I can’t wait to see the finished result!!!

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