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Using a drum sander

I want to rent the drum sander to refinish my hardwood dining room flooring.  I don't have any experience using a tool like this and want to know if this is something I should attempt or should I just leave it to the pros?  The floor is already clean and just has a very light (15-year-old) coat of varnish on it now.  One of my friends rented a round floor polisher/buffer/sander several years back and tried to do her floor, but the sandpaper kept getting gummy because the heat from the friction caused the varnish to melt and it made a huge mess.  She finally just gave up and put down Pergo. I think it was just a case of selecting the wrong tool for the job.  Any advice?

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Posted 2013-03-15T18:11:08+0000  by SCDoxieMom SCDoxieMom

Hi SCDoxieMom,


Welcome to the community, we are glad you joined us.


I'm glad you are at research stage for refinishing your hardwood floors. As with any item you will ever use in life, you'll need to be familiar with it first, and not jump into using it right away.


After all, we didn't all start driving a car in one takes know-how and familiarity, and using a drum sander or any floor refinisher needs to be considered like that too.


When you come into your local Home Depot Tool Rental Center, we will give you the know-how and familiarity, as well get your additional materials for refinishing your floors before you even leave the store. In short, this is a job you can easily do.


Of the 3 machines we rent out for refinishing hardwood floors, I will say that the drum sander is one that you will need to use before you rent it. As for your friend, I think it was an issue of not selecting the right tool, but it was her possibly not becoming familiar with the right technique and extra materials (more sandpaper) and patience.


If you just want to remove the varnish and maybe some of the stain, I would say use a square buff sander, shown below. This is a lighter and typically easier alternative to a drum sander.

Square Buff Floor Sander


 The reason I am recommending this sander versus the drum sander is for several reasons:


  • It's a little lighter in weight than a drum sander
  • It can get into corners easier than the drum sander
  • It is a little easier in maneuvering than other floor sanders

It rents out just like the drum sander, in 24 hour rentals and numerous grits of sandpaper are available. This means you start with a lower number in grit for the sandpaper (usually a 36 or 60) and then resand the roughness via a higher number/less gritty (100-150) sandpaper.


Sanding with different grits allows the floor to be refinished properly and sanded down evenly, so no marks from the machine are present. 


With any floor sander you use, start in a corner area, and if possible, a out-of-the-way area so you can familiarize yourself when you start with it.


The beauty of floor sanders is that if you are doing a total refinish, if you keep using lighter and lighter grits of sandpaper, then any mistakes that occur will be reduced...since they'll be sanded down.


So, come into your local Home Depot that has a tool rental center, and try out a floor sander for yourself. While you can't actually use it in the store, you can at least see and use it with the wheels up. Best of all, the printed contract will come with instructions on how to use it! 


Don't forget your different grits of sandpaper, and always remember to close off any floor or room vents in where you want your floors to be don't want that wood dust in your central heating an air system.


Let us know if this has assisted you, and please let us know if you have any further questions regarding refinishing your hardwood floors.


Posted 2013-03-16T18:43:11+0000  by Joseph_HD_ATL
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