Sanding floorboards - belt vs drum vs orbital

Discussion in 'Carpenters' Talk' started by TGull, Feb 11, 2018.

  1. TGull

    TGull Member

    I have 4+ rooms that will soon potentially have underfloor heating underneath.

    In order to do this, I will be taking the floorboards up and putting them down again (hopefully not breaking too many in the process) and then leaving the wood showing (no carpet etc). I may just paint them, however I love the look of varnished wood, so I'm contemplating ways to sand the floor.

    This project I'm guessing will run over 3 months (due to time limitations) so I'm ruling out hiring gear as this would be way too expensive in the long run. Instead I'm thinking of buying second hand (if drum e.g. Hiretech Ht8) or buying something semi decent.

    Previously I have used a drum sander (rented) to sand a floor and it produced a very nice flat and even surface. That being said I don't want the cost of buying one for ~£400 off ebay. However, I'm not sure if those commercial ones have cheaper sand paper (so could work out cheaper over time).

    My question is..... if I'm taking up the boards anyways, I'm thinking I could put a board on my work surface outside and use a belt sander to sand them down. Someone also said I could use a orbital sander also.

    That being said, if I do this I know I wont get the same consistent flat finish as using a drum sander when all the boards are equally laid down e.g. all the same height so looks more like engineered wood.

    I personally like the idea of a more 'characterful look' but I'm worried it may look shoddy at the same time.

    I was just wondering if anyone has done this approach before, and if they have any images to show what that 'uneven' look might look like?

    All thoughts welcome, but please keep in mind I have 4+ medium to large rooms to do. Also any mentions of good products to use would also be great.
  2. Jord86

    Jord86 Well-Known Member

    I would wait until you've removed the boards to ask this post/buy your sander, as I stated in one of your other threads you may be unable to get the boards up clean, so you may have to replace a good few of them, which may determine whether you need a sander or not if you have a large area to renew.

    You can always re-sell an eBay purchase to recoup some money mind you....
  3. KIAB

    KIAB Well-Known Member

    Easier to just turn the boards over & relaid them, then hire sander to go over all the floors over a weekend, just to take down any rough spots.
  4. Astramax

    Astramax Well-Known Member

    Get the pro's in the refinish your floors for a decent job, seen too many floors ruined.
    KIAB likes this.
  5. Cecilb70

    Cecilb70 Active Member

    Bona belt sander is the best I've used on floors. Most hire places just have crappy drum Sanders.
    The edges are the trickiest bits!
  6. KIAB

    KIAB Well-Known Member

    The Rolls Royce of sanding machines.:D
  7. Cecilb70

    Cecilb70 Active Member

    The difference is a drum sander will tend to dig in a bit and result in scallops whereas a bona has a bigger contact area. Another secret is to sand with your coarsest grit until it's clean. Then go through your grits to a finish.
    I doubt you'll be able to cleanly lift large areas of floorboards though. Especially if there cut nailed.
    TGull likes this.
  8. Mr Rusty

    Mr Rusty Well-Known Member

    as we said before, anybody who has tried to lift a well cut nailed floor boarded floor without damaging boards knows it ain't going to happen! Only those who have never tried live in hope!
  9. BulletTooth82

    BulletTooth82 New Member

    I've had a lot of experience t & g flooring, i used to be a restoration joiner and spent alot of time repairing and bringing back many different floors including pitch pine original flooring. There's no getting away from breaking some of the tongues and underside of the grooves , but a bit of patience and care will make a huge difference... punch nails through the tongues if you can (depending on the nail size) rather than splitting every board! using a hammer and moulding bar is my preferred option to reduce damage.

    I would sand the floors once everything is refitted and back down using a drum sander then a belt sander for the edges followed by a small "mouse" detail sander to get right in the corners and against the wall. I've put a quick post with links on my new website (still under construction) if you are interested and i think will follow with a full write up on the subject.
  10. TGull

    TGull Member

    Thanks everyone. Very helpful indeed!

    I think I'm going to see what happens once everything is up and take it from there. The priority is getting the house warm. After that it's making it look fancy. So I think I'm going to prioritise on that.
  11. mr moose

    mr moose Active Member

    I have one tip to add to the mix, use an angle grinder with a sanding dick attached for the edges it's so much easier.
  12. TGull

    TGull Member

    Good shout!

    I've been meaning to get an angle grinder. I guess you will have to be very careful though, as you could notch out a fair slab without being careful.

    I'm assuming you mean sanding 'disk'? Or are you talking about a different type of wood haha :)
  13. Mr Rusty

    Mr Rusty Well-Known Member

    Angle grinders with sanding discs can be very aggressive. I prefer a multitool with triangular detail sander to get in tight edges.
  14. mr moose

    mr moose Active Member

    Not so if you handle it well, Multi tool pads ware out too quickly and don't take off enough material.

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