Sanding Old Hardwood Floors

Hey there!

It was an exciting and busy weekend here sanding old hardwood floors! I’ll be finishing them up this week, but I wanted to give a progress update and answer some questions I’ve been asked about the process so far!

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Sanding Old Hardwood Floors

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Sanding the Bedroom Floors

It all started when I sanded a small section of the flooring in our upstairs bedroom.

You can read all about the bedroom renovation HERE!

The finish on our 140+ year old floors seemed to come up pretty easily so I thought I’d attempt to sand them by hand. Well about 5 hours later and a 3×4 section of flooring sanded I put my sander down and walked away…slowly because my back hurt lol! Anyway I declared this would be the time when I’d learn to use a floor sander! And since we we’re going to spend the money to rent one, why not go ahead and refinish ALL the upstairs flooring while we’re at it!

Choosing the Right Floor Sander

All wood flooring situations are different, which means there’s a ton of information out there on using different sanders to refinish them. I did a fair amount of research and then asked our good friend, and former flooring expert, which sander he thought would be right for the job.

Up until that point I was leaning towards a random orbital sander because they seem to be the most “user friendly”. Also, when I had called a local hardware store who rents them out I was basically told a drum sander would “eat right through our floors”, which made me afraid of them! I mean I’m definitely not trying to do that!

But after thinking about the fact that they had no idea what type of floors I would be sanding or their condition, we got ahold of our flooring friend 😉 And he 100% recommended the drum sander for our old, uneven, varnish covered floors.

Sanding Old Hardwood Floors

Drum Sander

We rented a drum floor sander from Home Depot, who btw confirmed it was the right tool for the job 😉 Thanks Home Depot! We opted to rent the sander for a week, which costs $256. Along with the sander we also got a variety of sand paper in 120, 100, 80, and 60 grit.

You can find the sander we rented HERE!

Using the Drum Sander

I went into this project nervous. It was my first time using a floor sander like this and I was told I could eat right through our floors lol! Y’all this tool is easy to use! Yes it takes some practice and getting used to, but it isn’t hard! It’s basically self propelled because it’s like a belt sander that spins the sand paper on a roll.

You want to take it slow so it can do its work. After turning it on slowly start pushing it forward as you gradually use the lever that sets the sandpaper on the floor. You do the same thing as you’re coming to a stop or to a wall. Gradually rise the sandpaper off the floor before you stop. This prevents leaving harsh ruts.

Also pay attention to the dust collector bag! I tried to always empty it before it was halfway full. There was still some dust, but not nearly as much as there was from the hand sander! However, I would definitely cover furniture and mask up doorways to nearby rooms prior to sanding.


I mentioned that we had bought several options. We started cautiously with a lower grit but it was obvious we would need something pretty abrasive to remove the finish. I sanded our bedroom with 60 grit then went over it again with 100 to smooth it out a bit more.

At this point I’m still working to finish up the other smaller bedroom upstairs before moving on to the big open room. The biggest room upstairs is the only one with carpet glue so I’ll give a full before and after of all the floors once they’re finished along with notes about how it goes.

Sanding Old Hardwood Floors

Sanding Uneven Spots and Edges

I didn’t want our floors to be glass smooth and to be honest it would take a LOT of passes to get them that way. There are a few small spots that I’ll have to tough up with a hand sander where there is some left behind finish tucked in corners that aren’t flush. Personally I won’t be too picky about this because I think it adds to the character. I’ll also have to use an edger sander for go around all the edges of the rooms where the drum sander cannot reach. Home Depot offers them to rent too!

Sanding Old Hardwood Floors

I am SO happy with how the floors are turning out! I love the color of the natural wood! I never would have guessed that our upstairs floors would be finished before our downstairs ones lol! But this is fixer upper life and we’re rolling with it! After I finish sanding all the upstairs I’ll share more, but I hope you enjoyed this update!

Thanks so much for stopping by the blog today!

Sanding Old Hardwood Floors

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