Tools of the hardwood flooring professional

Tools of the hardwood flooring trade

I wanted to provide a little insight into my trade after going to see a client who tried to refinish his own floors with some rented equipment.  Some things are fairly DIY safe but some are a little more complicated.  I liken it to car maintenance.  I have no formal training, but I do have wrenches, screwdrivers, and Youtube, so I can do oil changes and basic maintenance but should I take apart my transmission? That is a recipe for disaster, trust me.

Our friend finally gave up after about 2 1/2 days on his living room, and still not getting the results he wanted.  As a professional with the proper equipment, in that timeframe I would have already been finished that clients hardwood, and he would have his house back in order.

So just how does a professional belt sander help?  I’ll explain.

First, what do I use? I have a professional hardwood flooring sander that is called the Bona Belt or Big Momma as I like to call it. 

Hardwood floor refinishing
Refinishing an oak hardwood floor with a professional sander

It’s from Sweden and runs like a top.  It removes that old finish with ease and gets your floors nice and flat.  There are many different types of professional belt sander, they all look fairly similar, and one that is properly tuned up will do a great job.  I do proper maintenance, replace parts when needed and keep it free and clean of built up dust.

The rental machines are usually in pretty rough shape.  Kinda like a rental car or your own personal car.  Which one will you take better care of?

A sander that has been taken care of will run better and give you better performance, just like your car. This will affect how your hardwood floor will look.  A sander that has not been taken care of can leave an uneven floor which will not look good in any light, this is important.

Hardwood floor refinishing
You can see divots and stains left that this rental sander cannot get out.

The main difference between a pro and a rental is the power and weight. 

All pros should use 220V power, from your electric stove or dryer outlets.  That gives it the juice to power through all the tough coatings.  A rental sander uses 110V, which is from a normal outlet in your room.The other big difference is the weight.  The rental sander usually top out at 100 lbs, while my professional sander is around 200 lbs.  So that gives it the weight to  really bite into the floor and start removing those old coatings with ease and get your floor nice and flat.  This is important because if you don’t get it flat now it wont look as good when the finish goes on.

Hardwood floor refinishing
Another common type of rental floor sander, you can see the difference in size as compared to a professional sander.

Another big difference between pro equipment and rentals is the sandpaper. You may think that sandpaper is sandpaper, it all does the same thing.  I used to think the same way, but, some paper is better than others, especially for difficult floors.  A lot of new floors are coated with an aluminum oxide.  This can be difficult to remove with a smaller sander, with the wrong sandpaper.  You have to get very aggressive with it at the beginning.  But with a sandpaper that has been specifically designed to remove these finishes, it makes sure that the job will be a lot easier and faster.  Overall the floor will look better as well, because you didn’t have to get so aggressive with it, so there will be less scratches.

So those are the main differences in the types of sanding machines available.  One you can rent for yourself from a big box store, and use up your weekends working away.  Or you can hire one from us, Evergreen Hardwood Floors, that even comes with a hardwood flooring professional, with all the experience needed to do a quality job on your floor, and you can get your home back sooner.

Contact Evergreen Hardwood Floors if you would like to know more about our hardwood floor refinishing services.

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