Different Types of Floor Sanders

September 18, 2022

All the different types of floor sander for refinish hardwood floor.

Hardwood floors would surely need refinishing at a certain point because, over time, they will incur damages like dents and scratches. Yet, to prepare the surface for refinishing and staining, you must sand the floor manually or use a floor sander to smoothen their surface and remove damages. Manual sanding, of course, is exhausting, and if you’re not used to it, you might develop muscle and back pains afterward. Using a power floor sander, of course, is your best option.

The floor sander is your best choice for sanding floors because it is specifically designed for such a purpose. However, they come in different types, and if you plan to engage in a DIY refinishing of your hardwood floors, it will be best to use the best floor sander at hand. Of course, you can either rent a floor sander or buy one. Yet, floor sanders are never cheap. So, it will be best to rent a floor sander unless you are bent on establishing your commercial floor sanding service. Let’s know more the differences between belt sander and orbital sander.

5 Types of Floor Sanders     

As mentioned above, there are many brands and models of floor sanders for refinishing hardwood floors. As such, the choosing process might become a bit confusing. There are five basic types of floor sanders: Drum sander, Orbital vibrating floor sander, edge floor sander, vibrating sander, and spindle and disk sander, and below is a short description of each of these types of floor sanders:

1) Drum Sander

If you want a bulky sander, you can check out the drum sander. The drum sander is massive, so you can’t carry it alone. You will need a helping hand to lift this thing. Moreover, it features a large sandpaper belt that fits into a rotating drum. This rotating drum spins at a tremendous speed, making sanding quick and easy. It also features a dust bag that collects most debris and dust. 

The drum sander is a belt-style floor sander. You only need to push the drum sander across the floor via a handle, as if you are using a lawnmower. It is also expensive, and if you don’t intend to establish a floor sanding business, you might as well rent one of these drum sanders. Besides, you can use the drum sander for sanding solid hardwood flooring. Nevertheless, please refrain from using it on non-wood flooring or engineered wood flooring. 

This floor sander type is powerful in that you can use it to sand off different kinds of materials that you want to remove from your hardwood floor. You can remove gouges, dents, bumps, adhesives, paints, and mastic from the wood floors. However, you should check beforehand if the bond carries an asbestos content because asbestos might produce a toxic odor. 

As mentioned above, this floor sander type is massive. So, you will need a helping hand to transport this sander. Moreover, if you don’t take extra care when using it, you might damage the hardwood floor. 


  • Very powerful and can strip anything from the floor
  • Can do away with any imperfections on the floor


  • Quite heavy and expensive
  • Must be used with care; otherwise, it can damage your hardwood floor

2) Orbital Vibrating Floor Sander

The orbital vibrating floor sander works like the drum sander and gets operated upright. However, the main difference between the two is that the sandpaper and the sanding head of the orbital sander vibrate in small circles instead of rotating. The orbital vibrating floor sander is perfect for use after using the drum sander because it can smooth out the floor. 

You can use this sander for any solid hardwood floors. You can also use it to sand engineered wood flooring, parquet, cork, and wood flooring. Besides, it can provide your wood flooring with the smoothest finish you would like to achieve.

The orbital vibrating floor sander comes with a dust bag and is almost similar in size to the drum sander. However, it is lighter than the drum sander, and you can quickly move it around. Besides, it won’t damage your floor. 


  • Easy to operate and move around
  • Allows for the smoothest finish


  • Doesn’t sand down to remove dents and scratches

3) Edge Floor Sander

The edge floor sander is a handheld sander perfect for sanding hard-to-reach areas. You can use it to sand areas that the orbital and drum sanders failed to reach. It also comes with a built-in dust bag. Despite being a handheld sander, it is pretty heavy and features an orbital sanding pad. 

Since it is weighty, it is also quite effective and exerts its weight in removing surface layers. If you don’t use it correctly, you might damage the floor. If you don’t want to buy this sander, you can also rent it. 


  • Enables you to sand hard-to-reach areas
  • Less expensive. 


  • Quite heavy
  • Might damage the floor if you misuse it

4) Vibrating Sander

The vibrating sander is similar to the orbital sander, for it is mainly used as a finishing sander. You can use it to smooth out the wooden floor after running the drum sander. The vibrating sander is somewhat as big as the drum sander. It likewise comes with a dust bag. 

Nevertheless, it is lesser in weight. It also comes with a vibrating sanding pad. Thus, instead of rotating, it is vibrating. You can move it quickly over the floor. Besides, it is less likely to damage the wood floor than the drum sander.


  • Lightweight and easy to move across the floor
  • Less likely to damage the floor with its vibrating movement


  • Can’t remove dents and scratches. 

5) Spindle and Disk Sander

The spindle and disk sanders allow for better stability compared to handheld sanders. They are also table-mounted. The spindle sander, for example, is positioned on a tube-like base, while the disk sander gets mounted on a disk. 

The disk sander is the mounted version of the orbital sander. You can use these two sanders for sanding small items down. Moreover, these machines allow for ease of control.


  • Allow for ease of control
  • Provide for better stability


  • Not meant for removing dents and scratches
  • Meant for sanding small items

Tips for Sanding Hardwood Floor

The sanding of the hardwood floor is not for the faint-hearted and weak. It involves multiple passes over the floor area. With every pass, the floor gets smoother. If you sand hardwood floor, it might take you four passes to completely do away with scratches and damages. If it is your first time sanding your hardwood floor, it will help if you familiarize yourself with the following succinct floor sanding tips:

Vacuum Every After Passes

The sander usually comes with a dust bag. So, you might think that it is no longer necessary to vacuum every after pass. Yet, it will be best to vacuum between passes. In this way, you can prevent any sanding grit piece from damaging the floor if you make the subsequent passes.

Sand All the Floors Simultaneously

When sanding one floor of your house with multiple rooms, it will be best to sand all the rooms simultaneously. Make use of the drum sander for the first pass. Afterward, use the edger.

Manually Sand to Do Away with Edger Swirl

Even if you are an expert in using an edging sander, you might see edger swirls on the floor. You can remove these edger swirls by hand-sanding these swirls using 80-grit sandpaper. If you use a vibrating orbital sander, you might remove the swirls. But you might over-polish the floor’s edges, leaving the edges with a different texture than other parts of the wood floor.

Vacuum Well

If there is a speck on your floor when you stain it, the speck of dust might show permanently. Hence, you must vacuum the floor thoroughly before applying the coat. You should make two passes of your vacuum, ensuring that you vacuum the cracks between panels or planks. Focus more on the baseboards. Afterward, you can use a microfiber cloth to do away with the specks. 

Don’t Forget the Safety Gear and Safety Precautions.

Although sanding might look easy, it can also be risky. So, it will help to practice the safety tips and precautions when using the sander. Wear your goggles and dust masks to ensure you protect your eyes and lungs. Wear long sleeves and pants to prevent dust from clinging to your skin. Besides, you should wear your gloves when operating the sander. You should also ensure that you keep the cords of the sander out of the way when you move the sander across the floor area.

When using a drum sander, you should only use the extension cord type recommended for such a sander. In fact, it is not recommended to use an extension cord in many instances. Besides, if you use an extension cord, don’t loop the cord around a reel or spool to avoid melting the cord. Lastly, always unplug the sander when replacing sandpaper or tinkering with any machine part.


Sanding is a tedious task that could enervate you quickly. Yet, it is a crucial step in the refinishing process. As such, you can never sidestep this process. Additionally, knowing the types of sanders will enable you to select the right sander for your sanding needs. Moreover, having the right electric sanders can indeed make the task for you a bit bearable. 

Learning straightforward tips on properly performing the sanding task will enable you to do this task the right way. However, if you think that you’re not up to the task, you should not think twice about hiring the service of a pro. Professional flooring contractors have all the necessary equipment for such a task. Besides, they got the expertise to deal with the different issues and problems when sanding hardwood floors.

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