I'm about to install 350 SF of unfinished Brazilian Cherry in my home.
I am wondering if I can get away with using a rented vibrating plate
sander instead of a drum sander to smooth out the edges. I've done
floor refinishing before with a drum and edge sanders, but that was to
get gouges and old finsh up. I'd rather not do that again if I can
avoid it. Given the hardness of the wood, is a vibrating sander going
to do the trick? What grit would I start with/end with assuming that
the floor is pretty smooth to begin with?
That is a VERY hard wood and traditional sanders don't make
much headway with the wood. A vibrating sander will be of
little use. You need to stick with the BIG DOG sanders designed
By "BIG DOG" I assume you are talking about the big walk-behind sanders
made for flooring. I am definately renting one, my question was aimed
at which kind? The drum type or the vibratory type? I'd rather just
use the vibratory personally. The drum would seem to be overkill for
just finishing as opposed to re-finishing. Thoughts?
I used a rented 12x18 (approx.) orbital plate sander for many, many
sq/ft of new oak flooring with perfect results.
The particular machine I rent is made by Alto <??>, powered by a
good-sized motor, has excellent built-in dust collection, and probably
weighs 200-250 pounds. I needed ramps to get it on and off the truck
without help, and I'm a big, strong guy. <G> The machine could easily
get within an inch of the wall, so the small areas I couldn't get were
finished with a 5" ROS.
A drum sander is faster, but the orbital is almost goof-proof if you've
got the patience to finish each grit. I went 20-36-60-80-100-120 grit.
I was still able to do 250-300 sq/ft in 4 hours, or so.
Those plate sanders work well for prepping an unfinished floor. They are
horrible for re-finishing work. If, as you said, the floor is pretty smooth
to start with, use 80 - 100 and then finish with 160 - 220 (depending on
what's available locally). These machines do not have any dust pick-up. Do
a small area and vacuum often. Wear dust protection.
See if someone in your area rents the Varathane sanding machine. It is
slower but you are doing a small area and it will do a great job. The
process is much slower but for some of us thats not so bad. I fixed up
the horrible job I had fone with the belt sander and edger to an
acceptable level with it. I was warned away from it because it would
take for ever. Well it took two forevers before I was done. Try it
only cost me $35 a day
Well I spent the weekend installing the Brazilian Cherry and it came
out pretty nice. I have (I think) the typical raised edges between the
boards to sand now (mostly 1/32" differences). What I am hear from
other posts is that varathane sander is good but slow. Given the
hardness of my floor, I would guess that the orbital would be extra
slow. I do have it available in the area though.
I have used the drum sander before (on oak) to refinish floors and got
them to look very nice. The part I did not like was using the edger
along the walls - back-breaking!! If the drum could get to the walls,
I'd do that. The other option would be to find a heavy orbital sander
like Barry suggested.
Do you have any pictures you'd be willing to share? We considered the
BC, and not quite sold on it because the samples we looked at had
massive color variances...which isn't the look we're going for.
As you have not installed this stuff yet, why not run it thru a planer
then drum sander to the finish you want then install.
I don't imagine it would be cheap but I am sure a lot less that the wood
itself, and your cost to rent a sander and supplies.
Just a thought not a solution.
This wood is already planed. The sanding will fine-tune the top
corners of the board since there are slight differences in height from
one board to the next. You can only do that once the floor is in place.
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