September 18, 2022
When sanding hardwood floors, you might be thinking of renting a drum sander to remove enough material from the floor surface. Of course, the drum sander is the primary sanding equipment you can use for sanding hard floors. Yet, it is not the only equipment you can use for sanding hardwood floors. You can also utilize a palm sander for such a sanding task. Using the palm sander might require more effort and hard work on your part. Yet, it can also provide a more efficient and more satisfactory sanding result.
The palm sander gets referred to as a random orbital sander. It is a power tool that sands using random-orbit action. This random-orbit action is characterized by continuous irregular and overlapping circles. Moreover, the palm sander has three types: air-powered, electric-powered, and orbital floor sanders. The first two types are handheld, while the last type is a piece of large equipment that rolls.
Understanding The Palm Sander
If you would use the palm sander for sanding your hardwood floor, it will be best to understand how the palm sander operates. Unlike the belt sander, which has a pair of drums that turn sandpaper in a continuous loop, the palm sander, oscillates so, its sanding pad stays fixed and straight.
If you use the electric-powered palm sander, for example, you will find that the simultaneous spinning of the sanding disk creates small elliptical movement. This movement ensures that no portion of the abrasive sandpaper hits twice the same path during its rotation. Because of this sanding action, the palm sander doesn’t leave any swirl mark.
The palm sander isn’t sensitive to the wood grain direction. Thus, it is perfect for sanding wood pieces connected at a right angle. It also utilizes sandpaper discs instead of a belt looped around two drums. Besides, the attachment process of the disks can be either using a hook and loop or an adhesive (pressure-sensitive) system. Moreover, it comes with a dust collection system.
Simple Steps on Sanding Hardwood Floors Using a Palm Sander
If ever you decide to use a palm sander for the first time, you might be at a loss as to how you would use it properly. Below is a rundown of the simple steps you can follow to get the best out of your palm sander when sanding hardwood floors:
Step 1: Clear the Floor of Anything and Clean the Floor Surface
Before you start sanding, you need to prepare the area for sanding. You need to clear the floor area of all the appliances and furniture. If you can’t remove a piece of heavy furniture, drape it in a plastic cover. Once the floor surface is clear of any obstruction, you can start cleaning the floor.
Use a broom or a vacuum to clean the floor surface thoroughly. Do away with debris and dust before you start refinishing. You can also secure loose floorboards and use finishing nails for this purpose.
Step 2: Prepare the Materials and Equipment Accordingly
You need to prepare your materials and equipment when sanding. Prepare the palm sander and the correct grit of sandpaper. It will help to prepare your dust masks, respirators, earplugs, kneepads, and other safety gear.
Make sure you use an excellent respirator (organic vapor) to prevent dust from entering your lungs. Your gloves should also be vinyl or neoprene gloves. Your eye protection should have splash guards when applying oil-based polyurethane and sealers.
If you prefer to use the palm sander, you will be arching yourself for a long time while you manually move this sander across the floor. So, you need to condition your body before engaging in such a challenging task. Otherwise, you might end up with sore back and muscle spasms.
Step 3: Use the Recommended Sandpaper
When sanding floors, you need to start with the use of coarse-grit sandpaper. The coarse-grit sandpaper will remove scratches and old finishes after a few passes. However, you should refrain from using anything coarser than 60-grit to avoid damaging the floors.
Slowly sand the floors using the given abrasives until you get the necessary level of smoothness. After using the 60-grit sandpaper, you can transition to the 80-grit sandpaper. Then, move to 100-grit or 120-grit.
Move the sander across the floor by sanding row by row. Overlap runs by the sander’s half-width. Besides, you should ensure you do several passes with every grit. Then, sand close to the baseboard moldings. You can utilize a putty knife or a sharp scraper to remove the remaining old finish missed by the sander.
Step 4: Clean Up After Sanding
Once done with sanding, you can use a vacuum to do away with the dust. Wipe the sanded floor areas, likewise, using a tack cloth. This cleaning process is necessary to ensure that no dust or debris remains embedded when you finish the floors.
If you coat the floor without cleaning, you might be forced to resand the finish after getting an unsatisfactory result. So, you need to thoroughly clean before you apply the finish.
If you happen to spot dirt embedded on the surface after coating it, you can remove it and sand over the spot using a fine-grit abrasive. Afterward, you can sand the area using the same abrasive before applying the stain layer.
Step 5: Apply the Sealer
After cleaning the floor area, you can prepare the sealer and apply it. Of course, the sealer application is optional, and you can skip it altogether. Yet, experts would recommend its application to ensure that the stain gets evenly applied. After staining the floors, a sealer will prevent the lap marks and stop marks from becoming noticeable.
Step 6: Apply Evenly the Wood Stain!
If you are coating an extensive floor area, you might find it challenging to coat the area. You can use an applicator to facilitate the application process. Using the applicator, you can stain a small area or section of the floor at a time. Afterward, you should rub the excess stain using a rag.
Don’t let the section’s edge dry before moving to the next area. This is to ensure that there are no lap marks afterward. You can also use oil-based stains to work longer on the coating process. Water-based stains, however, dry quicker than oil-based stains.
Step 7: Apply Polyurethane Layer
If you’re a professional, you might be capable of pouring the polyurethane formulation onto the floor and spreading it evenly using a lamb’s wool applicator. Yet, this process is too complicated for beginners and DIYers and might lead to a thick polyurethane layer. So, your best option as a beginner is to roll the polyurethane utilizing a foam roller.
You can use a high-density foam roller for this purpose. Using this foam roller, you can ensure that you can apply the coat evenly to achieve a glossy and smooth finish. You can also use a brush in applying polyurethane on difficult-to-reach areas.
Floor sanding services may charge you around $25 to $40 per square meter. This cost also includes the polishing of the floor. So, if you don’t want to pay for a floor refinishing service, you can do the refinishing on your own. Using the palm sander will be a good option if you decide to do the refinishing on your own.
The use of the palm sander is an easy way to refinish your hardwood floors, especially when dealing with a small floor area. It can also be less tiring to sand the floor using the palm sander because it is not as heavy as the belt sander. Lastly, you can follow the abovementioned steps when sanding hardwood floors using a palm sander.
Jason is a 40-year-old woodworker, carpenter and author who have been involved in the woodworking and woodcraft industry with 17 years of experience. He is expertise in technical aspects, woodcraft and furniture building projects.