The Types of Floor Sanders You Can Use for Hardwood Floor Refinishing

You love the look and feel of your solid hardwood floors, but lately, you’ve noticed that they’ve been looking a little worse for wear. Hardwood floors scratches, dings, and a dullness whisper its age and plead for a rejuvenation that only proper refinishing can bring.

A critical task of any hardwood floor refinishing project is sanding, so you’ll need to get your hands on floor sanders specially designed for this task. Even the handiest homeowner doesn’t usually have these floor sanders readily available, but they can easily be rented from your local home center or equipment rental outlet.

This post will discuss the three types of sanders needed to complete a DIY hardwood floor refinishing project successfully.

1. Drum Sander

Drum sanders are the heavy hitters of the floor sanding world, tackling tough jobs with impressive efficiency. This workhorse of a machine features a sturdy body that houses a powerful motor rotating a large sanding drum with large sandpaper belts attached.

Drum sanders are operated from a standing position and can effortlessly carve away layers of old varnish and worn wood while tackling uneven surfaces and deep scratches with unyielding efficiency.

The drum sander is ideal for taking your floor down to bare wood.


  • Rapidly removes thick layers of old finish and imperfections.
  • Creates a smooth, level foundation for subsequent finishing.
  • Highly effective for large, open floor plans.


  • Demands careful handling to avoid gouging the wood.
  • It is not suitable for tight spaces or intricate corners.
  • It can generate significant dust without proper dust collection.

2. Orbital Sander

 Photo of the underside of an orbital sander from

Like a drum sander, the orbital sander is operated from a standing position. The primary difference is its sanding head does not rotate but vibrates in tight circles. The orbital sander is used for smoothing out your wood floors after using the drum sander.

Orbital sanders are great on all kinds of flooring surfaces, including hardwood floors, engineered wood flooring, parquet, and even composite flooring. It takes wood floors down to their smoothest finish.

The orbital sander is roughly the size of a drum sander and uses a dust bag. For do-it-yourself enthusiasts, the orbital sander will be a welcome change after using a drum sander, as it is much lighter and easier to maneuver.


  • Easy to control and navigate, ideal for precise sanding.
  • Smooths out unevenness left by drum sanding.
  • Effective for finishing and reaching tight spaces.
  • Generates less dust than drum sanders.


  • Slower than drum sanders for extensive areas.
  • It may not remove deep scratches or imperfections effectively.

3. The Edge Sander

Edge floor sanders are small, hand-held sanders designed to address hard-to-reach areas of your floor that the others can’t reach. Edge floor sanders also have a dust bag to help minimize dust issues.

The edge sander you can rent from your local home store is usually much more powerful than the hand-held orbital sanders most homeowners already own. It can access pesky corners, intricate baseboards, and narrow hallways. Its compact size and focused power make it the ultimate tool for precision sanding.


  • Reaches corners, edges, and tight spaces with ease.
  • Offers precise control for delicate areas.
  • Relatively lightweight and convenient to handle.


  • Not suitable for large areas or extensive sanding.
  • It may require multiple passes for thorough sanding.

Knowing Your Limitations

While everyone appreciates the DIY spirit, recognizing your limitations is key to a successful refinishing job. Extensive damage, warped floorboards, or intricate wood floor patterns might be best left to the professionals. Their expertise, experience, and specialized tools can handle complex projects with unmatched precision and efficiency, ensuring your cherished floors receive the care they deserve.

The Philadelphia wood floor sanding and refinishing experts from Artisan Wood Floors LLC have the experience and tools to ensure your wood floor refinishing project is completed with the utmost care and professionalism.  At Artisan Wood Floors LLC, we leverage the latest dustless sanding technology and high-quality finishes to deliver breathtaking results that will leave your floors gleaming like new.

Dustless Floor Sanding Made Easy

Traditional sanding methods often leave dust in their wake, creating a messy cleanup and potential health hazards. However, innovative dustless floor sanding systems have emerged to tackle the issue.

These systems utilize powerful vacuums attached directly to the sanders, capturing dust particles at the source and significantly reducing airborne contaminants. This improves the working environment, protects your health, and keeps your belongings dust-free.

Artisan Wood Floors: An Investment in Wood Floor Expertise

Whether you embark on a DIY adventure or hand the reins to the experts, remember that refinishing your hardwood floors is an investment that will reward you for years to come. With the right tools, knowledge, and perhaps a little professional guidance, your floors can be reborn as a masterpiece of natural beauty, echoing the stories of your life and adding timeless elegance to your home.

If you still have questions about wood floor refinishing, contact Artisan Wood Floors. We offer hardwood flooring services throughout the Philadelphia region.

Just call (215) 515-7355 and ask for Steve!


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