Best floor sander ever

In all three houses we’ve owned, I have refinished the wood floors. Though not an expert in the strictest definition, we certainly could own the title of “serious hobbyist” (read “screwed up big time but now know better”).

The two most critical elements of re-finishing a wood floor, in my humble opinion, are, lastly, the final coat of polyurethane, and, firstly, the quality of sanding.

To the polyurethane element, we will never use water based poly ever again. For all of its convenience, lack of VOC, and ease of cleanup, it doesn’t look very good, having all the charm of plastic silverware. More importantly, it does not wear nor age as well as oil modified poly. The difference between water based and oil modified, when compared side by side, is obvious and significant. Funny, oil based poly is less expensive.

Furthermore, disregard everything you might have heard about how to apply the liquid beauty that is oil based polyurethane, including manufacturers’ instructions. For the first coat, use a plaster trowel.

You read that correctly, a plaster trowel.

Dump a puddle on the floor and push it around like tile grout. That first coat goes on in a flash, while getting into every wood pore, crack, and dent. It takes forever to dry but provides the best base coat possible. Any unevenness in the first coat will magically disappear with more layers.

For second, and subsequent coats (don’t even consider less than 3), assume the kneeling position and hand brush it on with the best 4” brush you can buy. Yes, it takes forever, yes, the brushes cost a fortune, but, because you’re close to the work and you have very fine control of the applicator, the coating is ultra smooth and even. If you wait more than about 24 hours between coats, don’t hesitate to use a hand sander loaded with 220 grit to burnish the surface.

Agree or disagree, but weigh in only as your experience can dictate.

To the sanding element, different floors require different techniques and equipment. New and/or hardwood floors like oak will benefit from a drum sander and a very strict “with the grain” technique. For older and/or softwood floors (like those at 118 Henry Street), an orbital sander with a more flexible technique will produce better results.

The best sander for this old house is, hands down, the U-Sand Pro, by Cherry Hill Mfg.

Hmm…I think I’m in love

Drum sanders are just too aggressive and difficult to control, especially for the occasional user on pine floors. Regular orbital sanders are gentle enough, but, not only are they difficult to control, they throw dust EVERYWHERE, including the tops of doors, window casings, and ceiling fans. With both of these models, you will need to rent an edge sander to get right up against the wall.

Just right!

The U-Sand Pro has several characteristics recommending it:

1) It is ultra easy to control, you don’t have to be a 250lb weightlifter to move it around the floor when turned on. There is never the sensation of being almost out of control at all times.

2) You don’t have to stay “with the grain”. In fact, our experience is that a cross grain motion works the best.

3) It has the BEST dust pickup of ANY sander, floor, hand or otherwise, that we’ve ever used. When done, there is virtually no dust on any room surface except a bit on the floor. A very little bit.

4) It will sand right to the edge of the floor so there is no need for a rotary edge sander.

We rented one from the local orange big box home store. However, not every location has the U-Sand Pro. Check ahead if you try to rent one.

For more information, click on the “Recommend Resources” for the Cherry Hill Mfg. website. There are videos, manuals, etc for perusal. Try it, you’ll like it.