Floor Sanding: Knowing When to Call in a Pro

By: Joe Truini

There are very few home improvement projects that I don’t do myself; which is both a blessing and a curse, just ask my wife. Over the past few years I’ve built a bathroom, constructed a mahogany bookcase, hung drywall, laid an engineered-wood floor, and installed wainscoting. However, even I, a fearless (some say, foolish) DIY-er, know when it’s time to call in a pro.

The polyurethane finish on our oak floors was wearing thin, but I had no desire to wrestle with a drum sander the size of a Buick, or to clean up after creating sun-blocking clouds of dust. This was definitely a job for a pro, so last week I hired a flooring contractor to refinish the floors.

He started by using a drum sander to remove the old finish from a majority of the floor. Then he switched to an edge sander to sand around the room’s perimeter. To sand beneath the baseboard heaters and in other tight places, the contractor used a strange-looking tool called a radiator sander, which looks a bit like a clown’s shoe: It has a long, flat, rounded nose that easily slides into spaces too tight for any other sander.

However, the best part of hiring this particular contractor was that he employed a dustless sanding system. Each sander was connected to a giant dust collector, which was parked in the driveway, via a long vacuum hose.

The dust-collection system was so effective it wasn’t necessary to empty the cabinets or mask off any doorways. In fact, I didn’t even have to wipe down the countertops when he was done. Just one more reason I’m glad I didn’t attempt this job.

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