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Originally posted 13th December 2016

Last updated 6th February 2023

Sanding Wooden Floors: When and How to Sand Wood Flooring

Although it’s a beautiful type of flooring, which offers more authenticity than laminate or engineered...

Paul Hambidge

Managing Director Factory Direct Flooring Ltd

4 min read
Written by Expert

Although it’s a beautiful type of flooring, which offers more authenticity than laminate or engineered wood flooring, hardwood flooring doesn’t come without its problems. It doesn’t boast the water-resistant qualities of other flooring and can be prone to certain stains. However, one of the selling points is that sanding wood floors can remove any surface damage and reveal a good-as-new floor underneath the stains.

If you want to get the most out of your solid wood floors, here’s our guide to sanding wood floors, how often you should do it and the floor sanding cost.

When to Sand Wood Floors

New wood flooring is usually sanded to make it completely level, whereas old and already installed flooring is sanded to remove a grimy finish and even out worn areas. However, sanding a wood floor isn’t always a necessity. You can always leave your wood floor as it is to create a naturally aged look. Some see hardwood flooring like a fine wine and argue that it gets better with age, so the choice is really up to you.

Related: What is the Best Solid Wood Flooring?

If you’re after a sleek and clean look, it’s recommended to sanding wood floors and then refinish at least every 10 years. This is dependent of course on the amount of wear and tear and the average foot traffic the floor sees daily. If your house has many occupants, your floor is more likely to need some TLC.

But in general, you should refinish your wood floors when they are scuffed and look like they need some buffing. The average hardwood floor is usually 18mm thick and therefore can undergo around 10 refinishes in its lifespan before becoming too thin. So, bear that number in mind if you’re sanding wooden floors regularly.

Also, remember that the wood floor sanding cost can be expensive. It also involves a lengthy process of shifting furniture, sanding and allowing drying time. This, along with the inconvenience of strong-smelling chemicals and diverted foot traffic, makes it a big job. So only sand your wood floors when you believe it is necessary.

An image showing a sander on a wood floor

How to Sand Wood Floors

If you decide to sand and refinish your solid wood flooring, you’ll need to get your hands on an electric floor sander, sandpaper and a synthetic brush and varnish. Sanders can be rented via HSS.

Also, consider the grit of the sandpaper you intend to use. Sandpaper grits for wooden flooring generally range from 16 to 150 grit, with 150 being the finest grit. The more damage you intend to sand away, the coarser your grit should be. Most sanding jobs start with the grit in the 30s and then go for the finer options to achieve a smoother finish near the end. So, without any more delay, let's learn how to sand a wooden floor:

1. Start by screwing or countersinking any protruding nails into the wood, so they do not interfere with the sander.

2. With your chosen coarse sandpaper attached to the sander, start sanding wooden floors in the middle of the room and work your way towards the edges. Keep the speed constant and avoid leaving the machine in one area for too long. Sand in the direction of your wood’s grain rather than against it.

An image of someone sanding wooden floors

3. When you reach the edges of the room, your electric sander may not be able to access the corners. For these areas, it’s best sanding wood floors by hand.

4. After sanding, remove all the remaining dust. An additional tip is to keep some of it aside and mix with a clear wood filler gel. This creates a substance that can fill any cracks or holes in the future and is the exact same colour as your wood.

5. Next repeat the sanding process with a finer sandpaper grit, roughly in the 100s, and clean up all the excess dust again.

6. After two rounds of sanding, your floor should be ready for its finish to be applied. When browsing wood finishes, there are a variety of stains, sealing treatments and lacquers. These can add a tint of colour or different textures to your floor. So, choose what is best suited to you and your home. You can see our variety in our Real Wood Flooring Maintenance section.

7. Apply your chosen finish to the floors. For sealing or lacquers, it’s best to apply with a short-haired microfibre roller. For stains, use a brush. However, it’s always best to stick to the recommended advice on the product.

8. After applying a coat, allow it to dry for at least 2 to 3 hours. Then sand wood flooring with a light grit of around 150 to smooth it out.

9. Remove any leftover dust and apply a final thin layer of varnish. Use a roller to avoid any brush marks.

10. Allow around 12 hours for everything to dry and settle completely before placing the furniture back in the room.

An image of shiny wood floor

And that’s it! We hope this helps you with sanding wooden floors. If you have any further questions, please call us on 0330 100 00 15.

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About the Author

Paul Hambidge, Managing Director

Paul has 32 years of flooring industry knowledge & experience from both an installation and manufacturing perspective. He started out as installer of very large commercial flooring projects for multiple retailers. As director of Factory Direct Flooring Ltd, he has been involved in all aspects of flooring and has worked with some of the largest producers of wood flooring, vinyl flooring and laminate floors.