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Exploring the Different Types of Wood Floor Sanding: A Comprehensive Guide

Posted on May 1, 2023


Unveiling the Various Wood Floor Sanding Techniques: A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing the Right Method for Your Floor Restoration

Wooden floors are a popular choice for homes and commercial spaces due to their timeless beauty and durability. However, over time, they can become scratched, stained, or worn, necessitating restoration to regain their original lustre. Wood floor sanding is a critical aspect of this restoration process, and there are several methods available to suit various needs and preferences. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the different types of wood floor sanding techniques and discuss their unique advantages and applications.

different types of Wood Floor Sanding
  1. Drum Sanding

Drum sanding is one of the most traditional methods of wood floor sanding. It involves using a drum sander, a large and heavy machine that consists of a rotating drum wrapped in sandpaper. The operator pushes the drum sander across the floor, and the abrasive action of the sandpaper removes the old finish and levels the wood surface. Drum sanding is a highly effective method for removing deep scratches, stains, or unevenness from wooden floors.

Drum Sanding


  • Highly effective at removing deep scratches and levelling uneven surfaces.
  • Ideal for large areas or severely damaged floors that require aggressive sanding


  • Can be difficult to operate for inexperienced users, potentially causing damage to the floor.
  • Generates a significant amount of dust, which can be harmful to air quality and require extensive cleanup.
  1. Orbital Sanding

Orbital sanding, also known as random orbital sanding, is a more modern method of wood floor sanding. It utilises an orbital sander, a machine with a rectangular or square sanding pad that moves in a random orbit pattern. This random motion ensures that the abrasive action is spread evenly across the wood surface, minimising the risk of swirl marks or other imperfections. Orbital sanders are typically easier to manoeuvre and control than drum sanders, making them a popular choice for DIY enthusiasts or less experienced operators.

Orbital Sanding


  • Easier to control and manoeuvre, reducing the risk of damage to the floor.
  • Generates less dust than drum sanding.
  • Suitable for light to moderate sanding tasks, such as removing shallow scratches or scuff marks


  • May not be as effective as drum sanding for heavily damaged or uneven floors.
  • Can be slower and less efficient for large-scale sanding projects.
  1. Edging

Edging is a specialised wood floor sanding technique used to sand the edges and corners of a room that larger sanding machines cannot reach. An edging sander, a small, handheld machine with a circular sanding pad, is used for this purpose. Edging is typically performed in conjunction with drum or orbital sanding to ensure a uniform finish across the entire floor.



  • Allows for precision sanding on edges and corners that larger machines cannot reach.
  • ensures a consistent finish across the entire floor


  • Can be time-consuming, as it requires careful attention to detail and precision.
  • Generates dust, although typically less than drum sanding.
  1. Dust-Free Wood Floor Sanding

Dust-free wood floor sanding is a revolutionary approach to floor restoration that minimises the dust generated during the sanding process. This method employs advanced equipment, such as high-powered vacuum systems and specialised sanding machines designed for dust containment. The vacuum system captures the dust produced by the sanding process, preventing it from becoming airborne and ensuring a cleaner, healthier environment.

Wood Floor Sanding Tips


  • Significantly reduces dust, improves air quality, and reduces cleanup time.
  • Can be used in conjunction with drum, orbital, or edging techniques.
  • Provides a cleaner, more efficient sanding process.

Ideal for homes or commercial spaces where air quality and cleanlinessare of utmost importance.


  • Can be more expensive than traditional sanding methods due to the specialised equipment required.
  • May not be readily available in all areas, as not all service providers offer dust-free sanding.
  1. Hand Sanding

Hand sanding is the most basic and labour-intensive method of wood floor sanding. It involves manually sanding the floor using sandpaper or sanding blocks. While hand sanding is rarely used for an entire floor, it can be helpful for small touch-ups, spot repairs, or intricate areas where larger sanding machines may not be suitable.

Hand Sanding


  • Provides precise control for small-scale sanding tasks or spot repairs.
  • Allows for sanding in tight spaces or intricate areas where larger machines cannot reach.


  • Highly labour-intensive and time-consuming for large-scale sanding projects.
  • Generates dust, although typically less than drum or orbital sanding.
  1. Buffer Sanding

Buffer sanding, also known as screen sanding, is a technique used to create a smooth, uniform finish on a wooden floor after the initial sanding process. It involves using a floor buffer, a large, rotating machine with a flat, abrasive pad or screen, to lightly abrade the surface of the wood. Buffer sanding is commonly employed as a final step before applying a new finish, as it helps to remove any remaining scratches or imperfections and creates an even surface for the finish to adhere to.

Buffer Sanding


  • Produces a smooth, uniform surface ideal for applying a new finish.
  • Can be used to blend areas of the floor that were sanded using different techniques or machines.
  • Suitable for refinishing floors with minimal damage or wear


  • Not intended for heavy-duty sanding or levelling uneven surfaces.
  • Generates some dust, although typically less than drum or orbital sanding.

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There are several types of wood floor sanding techniques available, each with its own unique advantages and applications. Choosing the right method for your floor restoration project will depend on factors such as the level of damage or wear, your experience and skill with sanding equipment, and your preference for dust control. By understanding the differences between these techniques, you can make an informed decision and select the most suitable approach for your wooden floor restoration needs.

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