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Ever rent a floor sander?

Discussion in 'The Okie Corral' started by BK63, Mar 13, 2012.

  1. BK63


    Sep 15, 2005
    I have an apartment that is going to be a rental and I'm trying to fix it up the best I can on the cheap. I have 2 bedrooms and a living room that are hardwood floors but they are kind of beat. I'm not looking for miracles, just sand them down and put something on them to improve them. I actually hand sanded a spot last night that had a water stain just to see what would happen and it came out pretty easily. What am I looking at for cost to rent this machine and time or should I just hire somebody for these 3 rooms?
  2. tehan2

    tehan2 NRA & GOAL

    Mar 14, 2006
    Breaking the law in CT

    it is SIGNIFICANTLY harder to do than it looks.

    I tried it once, the machine tries to walk on you, and if you keep it in one spot for even 1 second too long you get a low spot or a burn.

    I'm a DIY'er....but sanding and refinishing floors, not me again

  3. BK63


    Sep 15, 2005
    This is why I'm asking. I can remember as a kid using belt sanders in wood shop and they can really dig into things. Because of that I'm wondering if I should just get some estimates. After all 3 rooms that are not that big, how much can it cost?
  4. stolenphot0

    stolenphot0 RTF2 Addict

    Jan 26, 2012
    Kettering, OH
    Yes, a few times actually. In my first house I went with one of the circular style sanders and wasted almost $200. It wouldn't even get through the varnish/poly/whatever was on my 109 year old house's floor. So I was a little nervous, but I rented the belt sander type. From my experience, this is the ONLY way to strip a floor properly.

    The key is, and its tricky to get the timing, is to start walking backwards as you lower the "drum" to the wood. Once your sand paper is worked in, it won't dig as bad if you pause. But brand new paper will dig and create a low spot. I left a few on my floor. Added character as they say :whistling:

    when I moved into my new house 5 years later, I redid the floors there too with the drum sander. Again, left a few low spots, but they are hidden by the armoire or couch.

    Practice in a spot that will be hidden when finished in case you screw up, and you probably will.

    If you have the time, use an oil based stain then poly, it turns out the best IMO. I used water based in my new house and don't like it, but was in a hurry because I had to get the floor done in a weekend.
  5. PettyOfficer


    Nov 24, 2011
    Houston, TX
    In college, I fixed up my frat room floor. I rented a vibrating type sander (like a floor buffer), not a belt sander. It worked really well!!! I had to use hand sanders along the walls.

    The wood was a disaster, all dried out and crackling, but after some sanding it was still dried out but it was smooth... The stain soaked right in!


    Refinishing is for experienced people only: holy crap the floor was streaky where I overlapped the stain!!

    The poly clear coat was easy, but it takes time: you really need to rough up each coat between applications or it'll peel and scrape easily. I also recommend at least 3 coats.

    My advice: if you want it to look top notch, hire somebody. It'll take a few days to do by yourself without talented help, and the risk of it looking blah is high. The sanding and clearcoat can be done solo, but the stain needs an experienced crew to hit it fast and evenly.

    I like to learn new things by trying. I'm good with tools and painting. I've built some furniture and installed my own crown moulding. I'm pretty handy around the house and yard. I'll never do that again, not when valuable property is on the line.
  6. eclark53520


    Feb 12, 2007
    Drum sanders are bad news if you are not experienced with them, they are very unforgiving.

    Orbital sanders are very user friendly but take longer. I used an Orbital on my home floors just to say I used one. You need a very aggressive sand paper at first to break through. You also need to be somewhat strong, with an aggressive grit paper, it will try to pull you around.

    I didn't stain my home's floors because i really liked the color of the wood. Poly is easy, just make sure to hit the entire floor with mineral spirits before the first coat and let it dry. Coat it, let it dry. Sand it lightly with 220(i used a hand sander it doesn't take much) and clean with mineral spirits again and repeat. Do at least 3 coats, 4 or 5 would be better.

    They turned out fantastic.

    Our neighbor has the same floor plan as we do, they had a professional do theirs. I paid about a tenth of what they paid out of pocket and our floors look better IMO.
  7. GIockGuy24

    GIockGuy24 Bring M&M's

    Jul 14, 2005
    With Amber Lamps
    I may try it in my house. The floors were made before poly coating was used. I do have a friend that used to work in an apartment complex where he sanded and poly coated the hardwood floors.
  8. BK63


    Sep 15, 2005
    How about a 3 inch wide hand belt sander? May take longer but you would have more control over it also rather than digging into the floor? Just a thought.
  9. stolenphot0

    stolenphot0 RTF2 Addict

    Jan 26, 2012
    Kettering, OH
    How old are the floors? The biggest issue I had when doing my 109 year old house was as the old crud was sanded off, it gummed up the sand paper. I'm guessing the stuff they used in 1900 on the floors was different than the stuff they stained with in 1946.

    A hand held belt sander could work on newer (50 year and younger by my best guess), but will take time. Give it a shot to see if it breaks through. You'll know in a few minutes if you'll be sanding for a month or just a week.
  10. bulletandgrunt


    Jan 12, 2012
    2 years ago I refinished some 65 year old heart pine floors in a house I was going to flip. I tried the drum sander, hated it. Lowe's had one that was a random orbital. It had 3 pads for sanding discs. I started rough and smoothed it out as I went. Very easy, the hardest thing was like one other poster said gumming up the paper. There was overspray etc on the wood. I then stained and sealed with varathane, more expensive than poly, but much more durable. JMO though.

    Note, the floors are what helped sell the house. I bought the house for 30K, put in 35k and sold it for 105k
  11. Batesmotel


    Apr 5, 2007
    You will actually have less control than a pad sander. I have repaired floors that someone butchered with a small belt sander.

    The rectangular pad sanders (24X18 floor models, not a hand sander) are the easiest to use. Drum sanders are a pain and best used for getting new floors to the same height before finishing with a pad sander.
  12. Big Bird

    Big Bird NRA Life Member

    Aug 7, 2003
    Louisville KY
    Forget the drum sander. They require a pro with experience to use well. I did it once on my first house and never again. I hired my next house out to a pro and it looks ten times better.

    To touch up old wood floors rent a floor buffer and install a fine sanding screen or a green scrubby pad. Both are available. Go over the floor with the buffer and a light screen. Then give it a few coats of either paste wax or poly--your choice. Won't be as good as a full refinish by a pro but it will look way better than if you drum sanded it yourself.
  13. I've done two houses with the drum machines. Definitely a technique to it. They came out great. but were a lot of work.

    BTW, I used a water based sealer the lats time and I used a drywall stick sander between coats....that also worked great.
  14. Make sure you don't have any nailheads (or staples) on the surface of the wood floor. They will tear through your paper.

    I've sanded a few floors with the drum sanders, and it is difficult to make the finished job look professional. You definitely don't want it to stay in one spot, and the sander will try to move around on its own. Good luck!
  15. HarleyGuy


    Mar 29, 2008
    If you can afford it, hire a pro. You won't regret it.