After years of wear and tear, even the nicest wooden floor can start looking a bit rough around the edges. But rather than cover it with a carpet or slather on another coat of paint/varnish, consider restoring it to its former glory by giving it a proper sanding.

Not only will you be left with a floor that you’re proud of, but you’ll also be able to tell all your friends that you did it yourself.

Here are our top tips for sanding a wooden floor:

Understand the task ahead of you

Before you even enquire about the cost of hiring a drum sander and an edge sander, you need to realise that sanding a floor can take a significant amount of time and is physically tiring. Therefore, if you cannot devote adequate time to the project or aren’t in the best physical shape, consider getting a professional in to do it.

You don’t want to hire all the equipment and then find out you’re not up to the job. At the end of the day, while it’s a great feeling to have completed a job by yourself, there’s nothing wrong with getting a professional in. It’ll ensure a high-quality end result and save you time (and possibly money, if you’re really not sure what you’re doing).

Get all the right equipment

Here’s what you’re going to need to sand a wooden floor:

  • A drum sander
  • An edge sander
  • Extra sandpaper
  • Dust masks
  • Ear defenders
  • Sensible footwear
  • A nail punch
  • A hammer
  • A brush/broom
  • A vacuum cleaner
  • Lots of elbow grease

Do your prep work

First and foremost, you need to completely empty a room before you do anything. Drum sanders are bulky, heavy and not easily manoeuvred. That’s why you don’t want to be having to navigate around an obstacle course of furniture and room furnishings.

If you’ve got large objects that can’t be temporarily rehomed, you’ll need to put them right over to one side of the room and tackle the project in two halves.

Then you need to give the floor a good sweep to remove any debris before using the hammer and nail punch to countersink any protruding nails below the surface of the wood. The sandpaper can easily catch on a missed nail and tear or, even worse, the sander can get damaged by a wayward nail.

Don’t be afraid to sand diagonally

As a rule of thumb, you should always sand with the grain of the wood. However, if your floor is old, uneven and has umpteen costa of paint/varnish over the years, a top tip is to actually sand on a slight diagonal angle to start with.

It will make the whole process quicker as it removes more paint, varnish, wood, etc. However, only do this for the rough sanding stage i.e. at the very start – more on this in the next section.

Determine your grit order

If your floors haven’t been sanded before, it’s important you use sandpaper that’s coarse enough to remove enough paint/varnish and engrained dirt. Start with something like 24 grit and do a test run on a small patch of floor.

Once you’ve gone over the whole floor with your first grit paper, it’s time to swap it for one that’s a little finer. You’ll actually do this around three or four times, until you end up using sandpaper that’s fine and gives you a clean finish.

Be sure to give your floor a good sweep in between each change of sandpaper. Otherwise you could end up with bits of coarse sandpaper that have fallen off running everything on your fine stage.

Change the sandpaper regularly

Sandpaper clogs for a pastime and once that’s happened it’s rendered extremely ineffective. That’s why you need to change your sandpaper regularly. While it will cost you a little more, it will save you huge amounts of time.

Top tip: look out for special offers at your local hire centre. You can sometimes get some really good weekend deals on drum sanders and edge sanders.

[Related reading: 5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Kitchen Floor]