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The Importance of Edge Sanding in Floor Refinishing

Posted on August 31, 2023

Edge sanding

The Art and Significance of Edge Sanding in Floor Refinishing

From the grand halls of historic mansions to the cosy living rooms of suburban homes, wooden flooring remains a beloved choice for homeowners and interior designers alike. Its timeless elegance, durability, and warmth underfoot make it a preferred choice for many. But like all things in a home, wooden floors require maintenance to keep their sparkle. One essential step in the comprehensive art of floor refinishing is ‘edge sanding’. Yet, so often, it’s sidelined or underemphasized. Today, I wish to shed light on its significance and delve into the intricacies of this essential craft.

A Brief Overview of Floor Refinishing

Before we navigate the nooks and crannies of edge sanding, it’s prudent to frame our understanding by briefly outlining floor refinishing. Wooden floors, despite their strength, bear the brunt of daily activities. They get scuffed, stained, scratched, and worn down. The top layer can lose its lustre, making the once-gleaming expanse look tired and dull. Enter floor refinishing, stripping away the worn-out layer and revealing the fresh, unspoilt wood underneath. This rejuvenated surface is sealed and protected to restore the floor’s original charm.

Why edge sanding?

You might ask, “If the primary goal is to strip away the worn-out layer, why not just use the main floor sander and be done with it? Ah, if only things were that simple!
  1. Reaching the Inaccessible: The main floor sanding machine, robust and effective as it may be, has one significant limitation: it cannot access the edges of the room or areas around obstacles like pillars. These ‘edges’ account for a significant portion of the room and can’t be ignored.
  2. Consistency is key. Imagine a perfectly sanded floor but with a noticeably uneven or unsanded perimeter. The lack of consistency can be quite an eyesore, making the edges stand out like sore thumbs. Proper edge sanding ensures a seamless transition, making the floor uniformly smooth.
  3. Foundation for Finishing: A well-sanded edge provides the ideal base for sealants and finishes. Without proper sanding, the finish can look patchy or inconsistent at the boundaries, undermining the whole refinishing effort.

Mastering the Art of Edge Sanding

Having established the importance of edge sanding, the next step is to ensure it’s done correctly. Here are a few guidelines:
  1. Choosing the Right Tool: Edgers are a must-have specially designed for edge sanding. These compact machines can reach where the central sander can’t, allowing for precision work.
  2. The Right Grit Sequence: Like with the main floor, start with a coarser grit and move to finer ones. This ensures that you effectively remove all old finishes and scratches before smoothing the wood.
  3. Maintain the Balance: An edger can be a bit temperamental. Keeping it flat ensures even sanding. Tilting or applying too much pressure can create gouges, which are challenging to fix.
  4. Blending the Edges: After edge sanding, there can still be a slight visible difference between the main floor and the perimeter. Use a blending pad or a multi-disc sander to feather out these differences for a seamless look.

The bigger picture

Floor refinishing is a journey, not just a destination. It’s an intricate dance of various steps, each as crucial as the next. While a subset of this journey, edge sanding holds its own in the grand scheme of things. While the heart of your floor might gleam and shine post-refinishing, the edges frame this masterpiece. Just as a painting is incomplete without its frame, a refinished floor is incomplete without its edges being tended to with the same care and attention.

Subtleties of the Technique: Advancing Your Edge Sanding Skills

Once one delves deeper into the world of edge sanding, it becomes evident that the skill extends beyond merely removing the top layer. Mastery is in the details, and paying heed to some nuances can significantly elevate the outcome.
  1. The grain of the wood matters: Always sand in the direction of the wood grain. This principle applies to both primary sanding and edge sanding. Going against the grain can introduce scratches, which are notably difficult to remove in subsequent stages.
  2. Clean as You Go: Between each grit change, sweeping or vacuuming the area is advisable. This will remove any residual dust or particles that might cause unwanted scratches in the next phase. Plus, a clean surface gives you a better view of areas needing extra attention.
  3. Mind the corners: Corners are where two edges meet and often require the most finesse. These spots can’t be effectively reached even by the most compact edgers. Hand sanding with a sharp-edged sanding block ensures that these challenging areas are not left behind in refinishing.
  4. Testing the Finish: Before sealing and finishing the entire floor, testing a small patch, especially around the edges is prudent. This allows you to see how the finish will look and allows you to make adjustments if necessary.
  5. Safety first: It might seem rudimentary, but it’s vital. Ensure you wear the appropriate safety gear, like goggles and a mask. The fine dust produced during sanding can be hazardous if inhaled or if it comes into contact with the eyes.
By embracing these subtleties and refining your edge sanding technique, you improve the look and feel of the floor and enhance its lifespan. A meticulous edge sanding job ensures that the sealant and finish adhere uniformly across the floor, providing consistent protection and aesthetic appeal. With this deeper appreciation and knowledge, one realizes that edge sanding is not just a task but an art. It’s the synthesis of patience, precision, and understanding of the material. It’s about harmonizing the core and the periphery and, in doing so, achieving flooring perfection.


When it comes to wooden floor maintenance, every detail matters. Edge sanding, though often underappreciated, can be the difference between a job well done and a job well done. The final touch pulls everything together, embodying the essence of craftsmanship and dedication. So the next time you walk on a beautifully refinished wooden floor, spare a thought (perhaps a glance) for its edges. They, in their silent, understated way, are what honestly complete the picture.

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