Floor Sanding and Polishing. Things to know

Posted on 30.08.2021
Floor Sanding and Polishing. Things to know image

Everything You Need to Know About Timber Floor Sanding and Polishing

The detailed overview and basic tips on floor sanding and polishing process for different types of floorings 

Floor Sanding and Polishing

Timber Flooring

The state of nature in your property, that provides a balance of elegance, harmony, and luxury for any property. 

The timber flooring history dates back as far as the 1600s were wood began to be used as a flooring option. The elementary technics were used those days to produce and install timber floors. With a century of knowledge and development, we now can enjoy the luxury of modern timber flooring with an immaculate finishing look and feel.

But everything has a price and behind every beautiful timber floor a master installer and floor sanding expert, that delivers a final look of all wooden floors.

This detailed article is dedicated to guiding you through the hardwood timber floor sanding and polishing process. To show you what is required to achieve the final look of any timber floors. 

We will guide you through the entire process of row timber sanding to final coating, including finishing lacquers options, machinery, and tools the professional floor sander used to deliver a final sanding and polishing result. 

How to floor sanding, What tools and machinery to use and anything else you need to know about floor sanding process from start to finish.

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Here is what we will show you:

New Timber Floor Sanding

Existing Floor Re-sanding and Restoration

Parquetry and Cork Floor Sanding

Timber Stairs Sanding and Polishing Process 

Floor Sanding and Polishing Machinery, Equipment  and Tools

Sandpaper Types and Grits

Floor Stains

Finishing Laquers and Oils Options

Finishing applicators typers

Floor Sanding and Polishing Prices 

F.A.Q about Timber Floor Sanding and Polishing

New Timber Floor Sanding

The new timber flooring requires settling downtime. this is going the floor has been installed with the use of glue. The settle downtime would depend from 2 days to a week, depending on timber and glue manufacturing recommendations. The floor sanding starts with checking and punching nails to be sure none of it is exposed and will not be an obstacle for a sanding machine and create a reaction with a finishing lacquer. 

Starting with a belt sander

belt sander

In most cases, newly installed hardwood timber flooring will require more thorough sending to make it flat. This is due to a discrepancy in height of each bord during the installation. The usual process will is to start sanding with a belt sander and 40grit sandpaper, which will flatten the floor very fast and make it ready for the next step. The run was usually done by going from a small angle or up to a 45-degree angle, following the direction of the grains. It only takes a few runs with coarse sandpaper for the floor to become a unique surface.

Continue with floor edger

floor edger

After the belt sander run is completed, a floor edger task takes a place, this machine will sand all areas you could not sand with a large belt sander. The edge sander allows you to sand around kitchen kickboards, skirting boars and around door jambs,

Filling the holes, gaps, and cracks

The following step would be to fill all nails holed and timber cracks, as well as fill gaps between the boars, if any present. The filler drying time will depend on the type, brand, and size of cracks and gaps. Sometimes you would have to let it dry overnight and come back the next day to carry on with flor sanding. Keep in mind, that gaps between a board in a new timber floor may require to be left alone, as newly installed hardwood flooring will move and may cause a filler cracking and push in it out, therefore damaging the finishing coating. Discuss this with your master floor sander and polisher, as sometimes filling is better to be left along to future floor re-juvenile sanding and polishing that would be a good practice to do after 6-12 month period. 

Getting the floor sanded and polished

floor polishing with rotary sander

Continue to sand with higher grit sandpaper to make floorboards, smooth. The sanding process will repeat with different sandpapers, 60, 80, 100, and sometimes 120grits. Some floor sanders will use a belt sander all way along, some will prefer to mix it with a rotary floor sander, such as a Polivac or Bona Flexisand. The edges of the floor can be also be finishing with a small rotary sander, to remove any possible swell marks left by the floor edger machine. 

Applying flooring primer

Floor sanding is completed, floor vacuumed from dust access, and ready for coating. The first step is to apply primer. The primer must be chosen according to timber species and lacquer types. In some cases, there is no primer would require at all, refer to the finishing coating manual for more details. keep in mind the primer is one of the most difficult tasks, as it is a super-fast drying product and requires high skills to apply it right, to avoid any visible overlaps line on a finished floor. The primer drying time will depend on different brands it can take something from 2 hours to 24 hours to be ready for recoating. 

Applying finishing flooring lacquer

You would apply two or three finishing coats of flooring lacquer of your choice. This would depend on the brand and if you used a primer or not.  Some brands would require to do a buffering (a light sanding) in between each coating, to achieve a better grip between coats and superb smooth finishing. Some will require to do buffering before the last coating goes down. Each coating drying time will vary for different brands. Some will be ready to apply a new coat in six hours, some require 24 hours drying time. Thus job accomplishing will depend on the brand and types of lacquer you have chosen,

Walking on the new floor and install furniture 

Once again depending on the finishing type and brand, it depends. But general rules stay as you can walk on new flooring in 24 hours. and bring the furniture in 48 hours. This of course has to be checked with your master floor sander or finishing product manual. 

Existing Floor Re-sanding and Restoration

Resending an existing timber floor is a very similar process to new hardwood flooring sanding and polishing. The bigger difference will be to remove the existing finish coating, which could be old polyurethane, water-based lacquer, or Hardwax oil.

10 simple steps to follow for floor sanding and polishing

Spet one

The first step is to thoroughly clean the area and check for exposed nails and existing staples. All nails that are exposed must be punched deeper into the boards and all staples need to be pulled off completely. The exposed metal, not only can damage your example, but often may react with finishing coating, and create rejection or interactive finishing look. 

Step two

Determine what finishing coating is on the floor and choose sandpaper accordingly for easy removal. Some will be harder to remove than others. For example, the polyurethane can be removed with 40 grit sandpaper where the water-based coating could be removed with 60grit. The goal is to sand to bare timber but same time be gentle not to sand too much timber floor itself and save a much as possible. 

Step three

When the old coating is removed, it is a good time to check nail holes, timber cracks, and gaps between the floorboards. The color-matched timber filler will be used to fill nail holes, cracks, and sometimes gaps. Depend on the amount of patty being used sanding can continue same time or be moved to the next day. This will depend on how much time is required for filler to dryoff. 

Step four

Continue sanding with progressively finer grade sandpaper to remove any scratches, swells, or leftover discoloration. The floor sanding professional will use a belt sander as well as a rotary sander, this will be a deterrent by sanding area and floor type and boards direction as well. The floor sanding will continue to the point when floorboards become smooth with a clean finishing feel and look. usually, you would go through stages of different sandpaper disks and belts, for example, 40grit, 60grit, 80grit, and 100grit. Sometimes the finer sandpaper is in use, for example, 120grit or even 150grit. This usually takes a plus when you want to apply Hardwax oil as a finishing coating.     

Step five

When the main area is ready, the next is to sand the edges with a floor edger following with an orbital router sander to final touch and smooth finishing. The floor edger will use the same type of sandpaper, such as 40-6-80 and 100 grit. 

Step six

Check the floor. Remove all equipment give it good vacuuming, make sure no dust left on the floor, in the corners, and between the boards. Check for the doors and windows, it should be closed, avoid any dust flying on a fresh wet lacquer coating. The floor is now ready for the first coat.

Step seven

The primer must be selected based on the species of timber and topcoat lacquer type. There are times when no primer is required at all, refer to the coating manual for more information. Primer is one of the most difficult tasks, as it dries extremely fast. It requires high skills to apply it correctly, to avoid any visible overlaps line on a finished floor. Make sure you understand the process or better always hire professional floor sanding and polishing company. It can take anything from 2 hours to 24 hours for the primer to dry enough to recoat, depending on the brand.

Step eight

A flooring lacquer of your choice would be applied in two or three coats. Depending on the lacquer brand you used and whether you used a primer, your results would vary. To achieve a better grip between coats and superb smooth finishing, some brands would require buffering (light sanding) between each coat. Some will require buffering only before the last coating. Different brands of coating will have different drying times. In some cases, a new coat can be applied in six hours, in others, it will take 24 hours. Therefore, the job's completion depends on the type and brand of lacquer you choose. 

Step nine

Now you can install furniture and start walking on the new floor. However, general rules remain as you can walk on new flooring within 24 hours and move in furniture within 48 hours. Of course, this should be checked in your floor sander's or finishing product's manual. 

Step ten

Enjoy your new flooring!

Parquetry and Cork Floor Sanding

Parquet (a French word meaning "small compartment") is a decorative pattern in flooring made up of geometric pieces of wood. Geometric & angular patterns are a hallmark of parquet flooring. There are several variations of Parquetry available for you to choose from, with herringbone being one of the most popular. 

The enduring beauty of parquet floors and their ease of cleaning and maintenance make them a preferred flooring option. Each floor is a unique reflection of its owner's personal preferences in a home or business. Putting up parquet flooring can be described as the art of laying hardwood timber blocks in a variety of patterns going back centuries.

Adding parquet floors to interior renovations and new construction adds value and style to modern interiors. Traditionally, it is one of the most popular flooring options in Australia.

Because the floor is made from separate blocks of wood, it may have small gaps between the timber blocks after installation. As a good and common practice, a contractor must fill troweling the whole floor with a wood filler to close these gaps prior to the final coating. 

parquet grouting and floor gap filling

Additionally, keep in mind that the belt sender should be positioned at 45 degrees to the floor blocks while you sand parquetry. A machine traveling over the wood gnarls will cut too deeply, causing sanding marks on the perpendicular blocks.

A professional should inspect parquet floors every 5 to 7 years. It is possible to get advice from them on what is needed now versus what can be left until a few years down the line. It is also important for you to maintain your floor to keep it in good shape. Quite often parquet or cork floors only need a top-up coat of sealer/finish rather than a full sanding and polishing. 

Sanding a worn-out parquetry or cork floor can restore it back to a perfectly new look. Once the sanding is done, you can choose the kind of finish you wish to apply. Parquetry floor sanding and buffering methods are the same as for normal timber floors keeping in mind running belt sender at 45 degrees.

Once your floor is sanded, the contractor coats it with various options for finishes/coatings. You can choose from:

  • Solvent-based - polyurethane
  • Water-based - polyurethane
  • Oil modified - Urethane

Timber Stairs Sanding and Polishing Process 

Over time, staircases in residential or commercial properties will deteriorate and would need re-sanding. As a result, they can accumulate gradual wear and tear, eventually requiring professional services. Sanding timber stairs is a slightly different process from normal timber floor sanding and polishing. Especially if rails and balustrades required renewal as well. It will require to use of different tools, for any professional to do the job.

It is a small area a sanding contractor would have to work with a floor edger and orbital sander, which takes longer time and more detailed attention. Considering this, you have to expect a much more expensive charge rate for staircase sanding and polishing. 

Damaged or deteriorating staircases can pose significant problems. Damage to the stairway can not only affect your aesthetic appeal, but it can also present a serious safety hazard since people can be seriously injured if visibility is impaired by a stain or if the coating has worn away, causing the staircase to lose its grip factor. To prevent unnecessary accidents, it is essential to organize staircase maintenance to ensure that your staircase remains in excellent condition.

Professionalism and workmanship are what set us apart when it comes to staircase maintenance. It is very important to hire a professional sanding and polishing company or contractor who has the experience and understand the following tasks:

  •  treads
  •  risers
  •  stringers
  •  landings
  •  handrails
  • Anti-Slip

You need to be sure and rely on them to deliver superior results that meet your needs and exceed your expectations.

For maximum safety, contractors must apply a matte finish Anti-Slip varnish to all new staircases when they install them to comply with new Australian standards.

Floor Sanding and Polishing Machinery, Equipment  and Tools

Drum or Belt sander

Sanders that run on belts or drums are massively heavy and usually require two people to move them. Floor sanding is made quick and easy by adding a large sandpaper belt to a rotating drum that spins at high speed. Dust and debris are caught by the built-in dust bag unless you use an external vacuum cleaner or dust collector but you still need to vacuum thoroughly before you coat the floor. 

Belt and drum sanders are powerful enough to remove finishes and stains, smooth high spots, and bring the floor to a bare, untouched state. This is a very powerful piece of equipment and can damage your timber floor in seconds if you do not have enough experience in an operating belt sander, it is better to leave it for a professional to do the job. The sander can grind deep grooves and valleys into the wood if it isn't positioned right and operated properly. In most cases, such damage will not be fixable and would require timber replacement. 

Orbital or Square floor sander

A circular or square sanding pad moves in an orbital pattern on an orbital sander.  Because orbital sanders remove little material, they are used primarily for finishing and finer sanding. Using an orbital sander for sanding a floor may require more sandpaper and take longer than using a drum sander, but you are much less likely to cause permanent damage to the floor.  Unlike a drum sander, an orbital sander can reach corners and other hard-to-reach areas.

Floor Edger

Edge sanders come with an orbital sanding pad and a dust bag and are heavy, hand-held sanders. its designs for one purpose, to sand floor edges, by the skirting boards or kitchen kickboards for example. You need to be quite skilled to operate this machine. The edger sander can easily damage floorboards or leave deep swell marks on the floor, which will be very difficult to fix. 

Random orbital hand sander

The sanding blade in random orbital sanders delivers the sanding action on a random-orbit basis. In other words, the angle of rotation of the head and disk is variable. With a random orbital sander, you can achieve a finer finish or remove any visible swells left after the edger or other machines. Basically, this is a correction touch-up tool that you will use for spot sanding to achieve a perfect finishing sanding result for your floors. It is also useful to remove the old coating in difficult reach spots, like a wardrobe for example


One of the must-have tools for every floor sanding job. No matter what floor you sand the will be corners where you can not get with any sander, the only option to remove old coating will be a scraper blade tool. This is a hand operating device that will require manpower to scrape off a timber or old coating. 

floor sanding price

Sandpaper Types and Grits

You will need to choose an appropriate abrasive to perform the floor sanding tasks. The sandpaper abrasive will come to choices to fit particular equipment, machine, and tool. The choice of abrasive also varies by type of what it is made of and designed for.  in a variety of equipment, you need to fit the right type of sanding paper. Those type usually will be as follow:

Belts and Rolls

Oval belt or roll of sandpaper to fit Belt and Drum Sanders. 

Floor sanding Discs

Designed to fit floor sanding orbital sanders, like Polivac or Bona flexisand. usually comes at a size of 400mm.

Sanding discs

Design to fit Small orbital sanders and attachment usually comes at a size of 150mm

Edger discs

Specially designed discs to fit a floor edger machine. Usually comes at a size of 175 to 180mm

Floor Stains

Timber floors are beautiful natural products, that come in different species and variances. On top of it, natural appearance customers have an option to choose different finishing laсqueкs to add more character and individuality to their floors. But sometimes even all of this is not enough to satisfy homeowner expectations. This is where a stain can play a vital role to enhance floor appearance. If you want to change the color of the hardwood flooring, you can use hardwood flooring stain as the first sealant coat. Just keep in mind because of their cellular structure, certain types of wood are unsuitable for staining. Additionally, some wood is very difficult to stain evenly.

floor staining

The wood stains come in different colors options and types.

Your stain color choice will have a huge impact on the look of your floor. You need to be very clear and discuss the color with the floor sanding contractor. In most cases, a professional sanding company will come in prior to the job to do spot sanding and apply different stain colors to show you what the finishing result will look like on your floor. Then you choose what you like. 

Whether you're looking for light or dark, reddish-brown or black shades, and everything in between, there's a stain that meets your needs. If you plan to stain your wood, your choice will also be determined by the type of wood, the style you are envisioning, and the color and grain of the wood.

Following staining, the next step will be either water or oil-based hardwood finish. 

Finishing Lacquers and Oils Options

The finishing lacquer is a very important part of every floor sanding and polishing job. Applying the correct finishing is necessary to protect your timber floors in the future from wear and tear as well as from external factors like direct sunlight and UV damage.  

Nowadays you can choose from several finishing options that are available on the market. 

Water-Based Polyurethane 

floor coating

Professional flooring contractors prefer this type of coating. It has a lustrous finish to provide the traditional hardwood flooring finish much desire. A finish of this type can be made glossy by using multiple coats. You can use this product on stained or bare hardwood floors.

This water-based hardwood finish is recommended for exotic woods and lets their natural colors shine through. This product is considered more environmentally friendly because of its water base. Once the resin has hardened, it becomes water-resistant. this product is also odorless

However, this type of finish is not as durable as an oil-based finish. Even so, it still has a long lifespan and protects your floors well. 

This hardwood flooring finished dries fast and can show brush strokes and applicator marks when applying incorrectly or without experience.

Oil-Based Polyurethane 

There is an amber hue to this hardwood flooring finish. The wood's color is changed by the tint that presents in this coating type. 

Several species of wood are enhanced by this finish, including walnut and red birch.  It is more durable and hard-wearing compare to water-based finishing. 

The drying time for this finish is longer than a water-based finish, and it is quite smelly.  sometimes the customer has to leave a home until the job is completed and ever stay away for a few days. These finishes may be considered to have a negative feature due to the amber color change. The good thing is the brush marks and applicator marks are less noticeable than with a water-based product. 

Moisture-Cure Urethane

There are several benefits of this floor finish. It is tougher than water-based polyurethane or oil-based polyurethane. A professional would be required to apply this as it dries extremely quickly. A lap mark occurs when the old, dry layer overlaps the new, wet layer during application.

It is a good flooring option for homes with children and pets, as well as high-traffic areas. If the conditions are right, you can apply several coats in one day, this lets you complete the job faster. 

It is recommended to use a respirator and maintain proper ventilation due to the high level of VOCs in this product. It takes a long time to dry under low humidity.

Wax or Hardwood Finishing Wax

It has been around for quite a while. Hardwood floor wax penetrates the pores of the wood and hardens. The product has a low-luster, slightly amber-tinted finish that's sometimes combined with a stain. Hardwood flooring wax finishes are low odor, quick-drying, fairly durable, and low sheen.  You can reapply this finish whenever necessary as it is inexpensive. 

A waxy surface is easily scratched and damaged by water. The finish option is not very durable and darkens or yellows over time. Despite this, some think that wax floors are negatively aging, while others think they are beautiful.

Finishing applicators typers

The wood flooring industry offers a wide variety of finish options today.  Many of the finishes are traditional, but there are also some retro finishes making a comeback. Each of these finishes requires a different application method. It is impossible to have one applicator for all coatings or all situations. You should always consult the product manufacturer for specific recommendations regarding application methods and applicator types.

Below we describe a different application type and what you could use it for

Woodblock applicators. 

Its purpose is to hold lambswool, synthetic lambswool, or synthetic fiber pads. 
Lambswool or genuine lambskin can be made from natural or synthetic material. it wrapped around a wooden block. You need to clean lambskin before use as it can shed when brand new. These types can be used to apply oil-modified urethane, moisture cure urethane, liquid waxes, conversion varnish, conjugated oil varnishes, and shellacs.

Cut-in pads 

These applicators are traditionally flat and rectangular with a tapered handle. Usually, it has removable synthetic fiber pads.
Its pads are made from synthetic fiber and can be made in different designs and grades to suit different finishing products. It can be used to apply oil or water-base finishing as a "drag method" or on edges and corners. 

T-bar applicators 

These applicators are thin cylindrical t-bar with removable sleeves. They have swivel handles and are available in lightweight and heavyweight options.
The sleeves for the t-bar are similar to Cut-in pads. It is made from different materials to work with varying lacquers of finishing. It is an excellent tool to work on large surfaces, for example, sports floors of large commercial products.  


These applicators have removable sleeves covers.
The roller sleeves are available in several options to work with different finishing, for example, mohair or micro-fiber. Apart from the material it is made of, it also comes in a variety of nap sizes.


It comes in various options, for example, natural bristle, nylon bristle, foam, or other synthetic products.
They are usually used for edges and corners applications. 

Steel trowels

They are usually used to apply natural oils and other finishes but are commonly used for naturally penetrating oils.

Floor Sanding and Polishing Prices 

There are some local price guide indicators to help you understand the value of an investment in your floor sanding

Prices are indicative only. It is taken from random sanding companies around Australia and may vary by the time when you talking to a local professional singing and polishing company 

Floor Sanding & Polishing
Price including finishing lacquer coating, usually two or three coats, and prime, depends on the type of finishing used on a particular job

$40 -$100
per sqm

Nail paunching or staples removal - minor

Included in price

Nail paunching or staple removal - all floor

per sqm

Timber stains application

per sqm

Nail holes, small cracks, filling - minor

Included in price

Gaps filling - minor 

Included in price

Gap filling - all floor flood filling - trowel application

per sqm

Furniture removal

per room

Carpet Removal

per sqm

Floor bleaching 

per sqm

F.A.Q about Timber Floor Sanding and Polishing

What are the best preparations for sanding the area?

The rooms that we plan to sand will need to be empty of all furniture.

How long does it take to sand my floors?

The usual turnaround for the job to start and finish will be around 2-3 days. it will depend on the size of the area of course

What is the minimum time I have to stay off the floor after the job is done?

Most of the finishing coatings will be ready to walk on it without shoes in 24hours. Some furniture such as chairs and couches can be brought in after 48 hours. the heavy items like a fridge usually are put in place after 1 week. As a usual check, a finishing lacquer manual, as a rools for different brands will vary 

Should I find alternative accommodations?

You won't be able to access the sanded rooms during sanding because they need to be completely free of traffic. Unless you can use other rooms during the sanding job you need to consider temporary accommodation. The other thing to keep in mind is depending on the finishing coating type, you may find some lacquers will smell a lot, and for this reason, you need to be off the site unless it dries. 

Will the floor finishing smell?

Some finishing lacquers will smell more than others.  For example, if you compare waterbased finishing and polyurethane floor finish on a scale of 0 to 10 the waterbased has a smell rating around 2 or 3 where polyurethane will be 10.

Is it going to be messy?

Not long before floor sanding jobs has been knowing as messy types of floor restoration jobs. With recent health and safety tools nowadays the floor sanding contractor must use vacuumed cleaners with hyper filters. Which allowed completing the job with minimal dust. Sometimes you find it refers to dustless floor sanding. 

Is it possible to remove all floor damage during sanding?

The majority of damage to your wooden floor can be sanded out. Although, some pre-existing issues may still exist or could affect the final finish of your floor. For example, things like. Deep scratches or cuts will still be visible. The water-damaged or pet urine stains on timber will still show discoloration, even after thoroughly sanding 

Are you able to sand all kinds of floors?

Pretty much all solid timber floors are safe to sand and polish. Some of the engineered flooring can be resanded as well but will be subject to veneer (the top layer) thickness. The cork flooring can be sanded as well 

Hiring a professional floor sanding contractor.

Flooring Domain provides you with a list of local professional floor sanding and polishing companies and contractors. You can select experts with reviews and job examples, by using a search filter, that also allows you to search by location near you. Each business can be contacted directly to book an inspection appointment, or you can use our online form and ask for a FREE QUOTE from multiple companies at the same time. 

CLICK HERE to find a contractor in your area 



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