Floor Sanding and Polishing DIY Guide

  • 3 years ago
  • DIY



If you decide to sand and polish your wooden floor, here is a guide to guaranteeing the work is done properly.



Nothing beats the natural beauty and aesthetics of wooden flooring. However, like most items in the house, they need regular care to remain in good condition. We will discuss the differences between polishing and sanding, how to prepare floors for both procedures, and if it is worth trying to do it yourself in this article.


What is the Purpose of Floor Sanding and Polishing?


There are two primary methods for maintaining and restoring wooden floors: sanding and polishing. You can do it yourself or get help from professionals like this company from floor.com. They are experts in floor sanding and polishing, providing multiple non-toxic coating options.


So, now the question arises: when should you do either method? It depends on the state of your floor since both techniques serve different purposes. You may use these methods together or individually with advantages and disadvantages for each technique.




Polishing, sometimes known as “buffing,” is a method that produces a beautiful sheen on the surface of the wood. However, it is not the most effective approach since it does not delve deep into the wood. Instead, it enhances the shine of any wax, polish, or varnish that you have applied to your flooring. Older wood floors in excellent condition are ideal for this procedure because they often have a very healthy surface that reacts well to polishing. It is possible to polish newer floors after treatment. However, it is best to do it immediately after a new treatment has been applied to them.




When it comes to repairing damaged flooring, sanding is the best method. It removes the top layer of the wood and any dry or unhealthy wood, to reveal the healthy wood beneath. Then you can coat it with a varnish or stain.


Both procedures can be combined. However, the exact combination depends on the particular floors you’re working with. It is recommended that you polish your floors after sanding them down to the grain before applying varnish or lacquer. Likely, polishing will not be required if you sand your floors down to the grain and then stain them. This is because stains are absorbed by the wood and will not provide the proper surface for polishing. Outdoor flooring, such as porches and decks, is rarely polished.


When it comes to scratches, it all depends on the severity of the damage. If the damage is minor, it is most likely only damaging the outer layer of wax, varnish, or shine. They will go away after polishing. However, if the scratch is deeper and penetrates the wood, you will need to sand the timber back to its original state.


DIY Procedure for Sanding and Polishing


If you decide to do sanding or polishing yourself you must do some research. Before starting the process, do a thorough evaluation of the situation and confirm that you have the appropriate tools on hand.


Tools for Sanding


If you plan on sanding floors by yourself, you will need to gather some equipment beforehand. A small detail floor sander, floor edger, vacuum cleaner, extension cords (10 meters at least), hammer, and nails will be required for sanding. In addition, large empty bins and bin bags will be needed for storing the dust and debris. Finally, for personal safety, you will need dust masks, earmuffs, sturdy shoes, and someone to assist you because it is definitely not a one-person job.


You will need a polivac sander to get the job done correctly. First-time users will find this simpler to operate than a belt sander, and because it functions with a back and forth sanding action, it will be lighter and slower. Floor sanders, either belt-driven or drum-driven, are required if your floor is damaged or has many layers of finish applied to it. More upper body strength will be required for this.




Every sander needs proper sandpaper which will determine the condition of your wooden flooring after sanding. The grit of sandpaper begins as coarse as 24 and increases to 40, 80, 120, and finally Polyvac 150 grit. If you are not sure where to begin, 60-grit sandpaper is an excellent starting point. If the floors are very hard, you will need a coarser and more suitable grit, such as a 24 grit. As the project advances, you will probably need to go up to a finer 120-grit sandpaper for the finishing touches, which will also need more time.


Sanding Procedure


So you have picked your sander and are ready to go. What should you do now? The sanders are pretty heavy, so you will need someone to help lift and push them while using them to ensure that you have a solid grip on the machine.


It will include directional arrows indicating the proper way to connect the sandpaper. Drum sanders are designed with detachable handles to make things simpler. You must keep it secure and keep an eye on the dust bag. You will also need to dispose of the bags when they get too full.


Turn the sander on its side so that the front is open. You will start with the lowest grit for your initial round of sanding and gradually up to 120 grit for your finishing. It is worth noting that you will often need to replace your sandpaper. So take your time and check it every so often rather than rushing through and possibly damaging the floor!


Start in the center of the room and work your way out. The goal is to keep the sander moving steadily and consistently across the floor. Maintain a straight line with the floor’s grain, both up and down, and in equal forward movements. When you are spinning, keep in mind that you will need to raise the drum back up again. If you don’t, you run the danger of damaging your flooring.


After each step, remove as much dust as possible. This will help with clean up and make the area a more safe and pleasant workplace.


When you have finished sanding your wooden floors and reached the edges, you will need to switch to the edging sander to finish the skirting. Maintain consistency in your floor sanding by ensuring that the polivac sander and the floor edger work on the same gradient to achieve a smooth, professional finish.


Detail sanding should be done by hand or using a small detail sander with the proper sandpaper grit for the job at hand.


If coating and polishing are needed after sanding, all dust must be removed from the area beforehand.


Polishing Procedure


There are many phases to the polishing process, and each one is important. Each step must be carried out with proper consideration for your particular needs and the unique characteristics of your wooden flooring. Help from professionals is recommended here because even the smallest error may harm the quality and longevity of the flooring.


Suppose you are unfamiliar with working with wood floors. In that case, it can be difficult to determine the extent to which certain preparation procedures are required. Additionally, it is not always simple to choose the appropriate stain for your wood. Failure to do so may result in insufficiently protected timber flooring which may lose its aesthetic appeal.


Additionally, various floors decay at different rates, even within the same home. It is due to various factors, including foot traffic, floor layout, humidity level, and furniture positioning.


Preparing the Floors


Preparation is the first step in restoring your wood floors. While this step may seem simple, it is always beneficial to get an expert’s opinion. 


The preparation step is fairly consultative and usually entails examining the floors and determining their suitability for a range of materials, followed by determining what needs to be done to assist its restoration.


Applying Sealants


After sanding, your floor is ready for renovation. Precision is crucial at this step, so this procedure can be complicated for people without much experience working with wood. It is critical to apply the proper sealer and polish at this stage, as they will directly affect the appearance and longevity of your wood flooring. Speaking with an expert will shed some light on what is required as they will have all of the essential expertise to ensure that you get the best outcome.


To achieve a perfect finish, you will need more layers of coating. The residue from urethanes or polyurethanes acts as a protective covering, prolonging the life of your floor. You may select from various coatings, including oil-modified, moisture-cured, water-based, varnish, wax, lacquer, shellac, and non-toxic natural oil.


You should be aware, however, that doing this procedure properly takes expertise and experience. Therefore, please contact a professional beforehand to avoid unnecessary damage and wasting time and money.


Safety Measures after Polishing


There are some safety measures to take after sanding and polishing the wood floor.


For at least 24 hours, avoid walking on the floor. It will avoid damaging the floor while it is still settling. Also, polyurethane takes seven days to harden completely. You may reinstate furnishings to the room at least 72 hours after the last coat has been applied. Avoid dragging furniture; instead, carry and position it to prevent scratching or scraping the floor.


Attach protective pads or tiny pieces of felt to the foot of furniture and heavy items to prevent scratches on your freshly sanded and coated floor. These pads are available at hardware shops.




Sanding and polishing projects give you the pleasure of seeing a dramatic change in your wooden floors in a short amount of time. Whether you are an experienced DIYer or just starting, I’m sure you’ve learned something here. And if you need any help, you always have the option of seeking help from professionals.


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