Is it easy to refinish hardwood floors?

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is it easy to refinish hardwood floors

Is it easy? Hell no, but that isn’t a reason not to do it! Nothing that’s worth having comes easy, right? Isn’t that what we were taught? There’s actually a little more to this question. Is it easy to refinish hardwood floors, physically or technically?

Is it easy to refinish hardwood floors? Sanding hardwood floors, and even the finishing process, is physically demanding. The machines are heavy to lift, but also exert some stress on the body while using them. It’s technically easy to do, however very difficult to do well. As you will see, that’s no reason to shy away.

There are those who have chosen the really hard way, so a quick word to them…

Is it easy to refinish hardwood floors by hand?

It is much harder to refinish hardwood floors by hand because you are on your hands and knees. Not only that, you are also using tools that are far less powerful than proper floor sanding machines. It’s like digging a hole with a spoon rather than a shovel.

I know a lot of you reading this are planning to refinish your floors with hand sanding tools and I thought I should just mention this here. I am now resigned to this fact and have started to include a lot more help and advice for those sanding hardwood floors by hand.

Floor sanding can be physically demanding

Heavy equipment

As mentioned above, floor sanding equipment can be heavy. Even the lightest drum sanders are 100-110lb (45-50kg). My drum sander is 176lb (80kg). Edgers are anything from 22-55lb (10-25kg). Finishing machines can be anything from 90-175lb (40-80kg). Some of these machines can be very awkward to lift also making it a 2 person job to lift them in and out of the rental store and into your home. The most popular rental drum sander, the HT8 from Hiretech, is the lighter 100lb one. They have made it easy to lift too so that can be done by one person if you’re feeling strong.

This actually isn’t a huge issue. Unless you have many floors, separated by barriers and up and down different flights of stairs. Otherwise, you only need to lift a few times.

  • Lifting it into your vehicle. The hire shop staff should be able to help you with that.
  • Getting it into your house, and the room/rooms you are going to be sanding.
  • Moving it back out of your house and into your vehicle.
  • Returning it back into the hire shop. Again, they should be able to help you, or even do it for you!

Doing the work, wrestling the machines

The other aspect to the hard work is that not only is it physical labour, but you also have to fight against the force of the machines.

As the drum sander is running, it’s pulling away from you. The drum is essentially a very wide wheel spinning on the floor, with not a lot of grip I guess. Never fear, this isn’t an overwhelming amount of force. It’s maybe like having a small to a medium-sized dog on the end of a lead, trying to pull you forward. However, the pulling force is much more consistent and predictable than a dog that may be jolting on the lead.

As soon as you can feel the drum sander pulling, you just lean back to counter the force. Click here to learn more about practising with the drum sander without damaging your floor. (it’s in the second half of the video)

The edger also tries to move away from you. The spinning disk in contact with the floor means that again you have to kind of fight against it. Not terribly difficult, it can just wear you out after an hour or two.

Technically difficult, if you care about quality

I get a lot of flak for saying this, but sanding a floor and doing a good job is quite difficult. It can be done, but it’s not as easy as people first think. The people I get flak from have never done it. Period.

Most people assume, you just go to the hire shop, rent the tools, do the work and it’s done. There is a lot more nuance than that! Honestly, you can do a much better job just by acknowledging this. Just by doing a little research and preparing yourself with the power of knowledge. That’s what this website is for! If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing right.

So yes, you can just get a drum sander and an edger, rip the surface off, which will look a lot lighter, and put a few coats on it. That is technically easy.

Summary

I think everyone asking this question knows the answer really. Yes, it’s going to be a bit of hard graft, but with a little research, you can make the best of a bad situation and save your self some money.

Be prepared for some achy arms and legs for a few days afterwards.

Over the past few weeks, I have been learning some web programming languages (not just your average HTML). It seemed virtually impossible to me before. By immersing myself in it, without prejudice, I have learned an incredible amount in a very short period of time. Isn’t it amazing how the human mind works? It can take things that seem completely unapproachable at first, and completely understand them.

If you were wondering whether or not is it easy to refinish hardwood floors, you might want to know: how long does it take to sand a floor?


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