The Floor Sanding Process – Refinishing Part 2

The Floor Sanding Process DIY Floor Refinishing

Hey everyone! Today I’m going to share part two of our floor refinishing makeover – the floor sanding process!

YouTube video
This post contains affiliate links. For my full disclosure, click here.

If you missed part one, I shared all about the prep work last week as we got our home ready for refinishing our floors. Today I am going to share the floor sanding process, and I hope this series is a help to anyone out there that’s looking to do the same thing!

I’ll break this post down into steps again just like I did last time, and I also plan on sharing some of my regrets and lessons learned along the way. Let’s get started!

Floor Sanding Process Step One – Using the Drum Sander

How Long Does the Floor Sanding Process Take?

We were able to rent a large drum sander for three days, and that was plenty of time to get our living, dining and sunroom sanded. In fact, we probably could have sanded it all in one day’s time had we worked from morning until evening. 

Taping off everything as part of floor prep to refinish

Now our home is smaller, and all three of those rooms altogether is only about 600 square feet. So keep that in mind as you consider your own space, if your home is much larger you may need more time. 

But my husband had a snow day at work, so we sporadically decided to start on the floors that Thursday afternoon and worked for about two and a half hours on the living room. He went back to work Friday but I sanded about two hours in the afternoon and finished up the living room. 

Using a rental drum sander for the floor sanding process on our hardwood refinish project

We took a break for dinner Friday night and he sanded two hours more, finishing the dining room. Saturday morning, he finished sanding the sunroom in under two hours. 

I hope that gives you a reference for your own space, but again one full day for our home probably would have been plenty. It was nice to take breaks, though, since dining it all at one time would have been a pretty long day. 

Floor sanding process and using a drum sander in our home

How Much Sand Paper Did You Go Through?

For all three rooms we used eight pieces of 60 grit sand paper, and three pieces of 100 grit. Mike said he could have stretched the paper further, but whenever he replaced the sandpaper and put a new piece on the sander, he noticed a significant difference in the amount of finish that came up. 

Sanding process on hardwood floors

Each room got at least two passes with 60 grit paper (some stubborn areas required more), and two passes with the 100 grit

Is the Drum Sander Hard to Use?

Not at all! Be sure to watch my YouTube video linked above so that you can see how my husband operated it, especially if you’re a visual learner, like me. I also have footage of him switching out the sandpaper so that you can see how simple it is. 

Sanding our hardwood floors with a rental machine

You just want to be sure that you lift up on the handle that raises your sander off the wood each time you come to a stop. Otherwise you will put dents into your hardwood floors.

I sanded for my husband while he was at work and forgot about that part, and sadly there are some divots in the wood where I moved back and forth in stubborn areas. Thankfully I was working in the living room where we will always have an area rug, but I’m still a little upset with my self for those haha. 

Floor Sanding Process in Cottage Style home with drum sander

How Dirty Does the House Get During Floor Sanding?

Honestly? The drum sander wasn’t bad. There was definitely a fine layer of dust on everything, but it was no where near what I thought it would be. The heaviest amount of dust came later, and I’ll explain that in a bit. 

Floor Sanding Process Step Two – Edge Sanding

When my husband returned the drum sander, the man at the rental place suggested he use a large edge sander for the floors near the walls. Mike rented it and we took it home, but he wasn’t a fan. 

The bag on the sander was not working properly, so heavy amounts of sawdust were shooting out into our home. The mess was one thing, but the main issue was that all the dust was gunking up the sander and causing funny marks on the floors. 

Using and edge sander to finish next to baseboards when refinishing hardwood floors

Eventually he decided to run the shop vac while sanding, which helped to suck up excess dust. It was sort of a pain, though, and all of the edge sanding took him almost four hours. 

When he finished, he was white from head to toe from all the dust. The house was covered with dust at that point, and we were both a little bummed because we honestly couldn’t believe  that the smaller sander made more of a mess than the big one!

My husband also used an orbital sander and a mouse sander to get into tricky areas and corners, which is something to keep in mind if you don’t have either of those. 

Refinishing hardwood floors with different tools

Floor Sanding Process Step Three – Cleaning the Dust

Okay…this is my BIGGEST regret. 

We cleaned the entire house and took down all of the plastic at this point! I don’t know what I was thinking. 

Later that week we tried sooo many stain samples on the floors. Well, guess what? Those stain samples will have to get sanded. 

Yes, that means more dust everywhere all over. Especially if you try several samples all over the house, like I did. Goodness gracious. 

Cleaning up after sanding the hardwood floors in cottage style home

If anything, I would have vacuumed the floors and did some mopping. But I would not have cleaned to the extent that I did that first time, and I definitely would not have removed all of the plastic off of the furniture and windows. 

Let me also say this…the drum sander would have been SO handy when sanding up the samples. My poor husband worked on those darn sample stains for almost two hours with his orbital sander

And on the one hand, I’m happy I tried all those stains because I wanted to be SURE that the color I chose looked beautiful everywhere on my floors. But on the other hand, I wish I had thought about the mess it would make sanding it all up again. 

How Much Does it Cost to Sand Your Floors?

Here’s a breakdown of what we paid!

  • $170 for the Drum Sander
  • $35 for the Edger
  • $40 for the Sandpaper 

Doing it all yourself is a lot of work, but we only spent $245 to remove the orangey-red finish off of all of our floors, so that makes me pretty happy. 

Sanding process of our hardwood floors and natural look after sanding

I can’t wait to share the stain color we chose with you guys! Head over to my Instagram page to see some highlights!

If there’s anything I didn’t cover or any additional questions you may have about the floor sanding process, please let me know in the comments below! If you missed part one, all about the prep work, you can find it here! Thank you friends!

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The Floor Sanding Process DIY Floor Refinishing


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  1. Drum sanders should be only used by a professional. Most people do not know how or the way it’s to be done no matter how much you explain it. Then when I’m called to fix it they wonder why the cost is above average due to the damage they created.

  2. This might be a silly question, but how did you mix the stain and mineral spirits? Do you measure out a pint of stain and a pint of mineral spirits then pour into a plastic mixing cup? I just laid red-oak flooring throughout my entire downstairs (1800sq. ft) so my brain hurts from trying to learn how to stain it myself. I love your combo, so that’s what I’m going to go with! I’m just not sure how to properly ‘mix’ the two. Thank you!! 🙂

    1. Actually that is exactly what we did! We got a plastic bucket from the hardware that is clear with lines for measurement and we added equal amounts of each, smaller portions at a time. I hope yours turns out beautifully!

  3. Thank you, I have just been searching for information about this topic for a while and yours is the greatest I have come upon till now. laminate flooring installation

  4. Hello, all this information was very helpful. Thank you very much! Keep posting such kind of info on your blog. I’m really impressed by it. hardwood floors NYC

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