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DIY Guide: Rent a Floor Sander
    Why rent a floor sander? Renting a floor sander or buffer is an essential step when restoring hardwood floors as a do-it-yourself (DIY) project. It’s a project that requires careful execution so the floors are not damaged in the process. But, when done properly, taking on this DIY project can save a lot of money compared to hiring out the work. To ensure you’re ready to take on the job, look to the rental professionals at your local rental store to offer guidance, manufacturer recommendations and advice. Some also offer training so you’re better prepared for the job, just ask. Looking for a local rental partner? Use the Rental Store Quick Locator above to find one near you. Before heading to the rental store, determine if your floor’s condition requires sanding or if buffing will be sufficient. Sanding removes finish, stain, and is used to address nicks and scratches in the wood itself. Buffing addresses imperfections in the sealant of the floors and if done often enough can prevent floors from ever needing to be sanded.

    Floor Sanders for Rent

    If you have planned to rent a floor sander because sanding is needed, there are two primary types: orbital floor sanders and drum floor sanders.

    Orbital floor sanders

    Of the floor sanding options, renting an orbital floor sander is the safest bet for a DIYer. The last thing you want to do when refinishing your hardwood floors is cause permanent damage, which is more likely to occur using a drum floor sander unless you are able to be adequately trained. Orbital floor sanders have the nickname ‘jitterbugs’ due to the way they achieve a light to medium sanding: the machines oscillate to sand the surface. Because of the random pattern, it’s not necessary to follow the grain of the wood as you work. If you are looking to remove deeper scratches, you will need to make multiple passes, which does take time. Renting an orbital floor sander allows you to reach the edges of the floor and corners, so in many cases an edger is not needed. In addition to small, medium and large rooms, orbital sanders can be used in closets and on exterior wood floors like decks. Be sure to take your time and not rush, as rushing can cause errors. Moving too quickly, not waiting for it to reach the full speed before lowering it to the floor, or turning it off while it’s on the floor can all result in scratches. Check with your local rental partner to see if training is available as no floor sander is without risk. It is also important to follow manufacturer guidelines, available through your local rental store. It doesn’t stop there. Ask your rental partner to help you select the proper grit and accessories for the machine and your floor type. Use the Rental Store Quick Locator to find a partner near you.

    Drum floor sanders

    Drum sanders, also known as belt sanders, are heavy-duty, aggressive floor sanders. While renting a drum floor sander can make quick work of sanding down the layers, these sanders are also the most challenging to use for beginners and present the highest risk of damage. Keep the drum floor sander moving constantly at a steady pace, following the grain of the wood. Changing pace or stopping — even for a moment — can damage the floors with gouge marks or valleys. It’s best to practice on a testing surface for anyone new to floor sanding. Ask your local rental partner if training is available. Drum floor sander rental is good for significantly damaged floors in large areas. An edge sander is often used in the same projects as a drum floor sander to sand the edges of floors and around baseboards.

    Edger floor sanders

    For floor edges, stairs, small spaces and hard-to-reach places, an edger is a great tool to use. These floor sanders are small, handheld machines that can even reach under cabinets and radiators.

    Floor Buffers for Rent

    While sanders are reserved for only wood floors, buffers and polishers are excellent for wood, tile or concrete floors. On wood flooring, buffers are an excellent choice for bringing new life to floors where scratches are only on the surface and not the wood itself. The process is less expensive, less risky and less time intensive than sanding down to bare wood and refinishing, but achieves the same excellent results. A rented floor buffer or polisher will scuff-sand the floor, preparing it for a new coat or two of finish. The machines can be tricky to handle. Ask your local rental store for tips, tricks and training regarding the buffer or polisher you’ll be renting. You can also begin in the middle of the room to have more room to learn how to maneuver it as you go. It’s recommended to repeat this process as needed when floors start looking worn. Ideally, you’ll never have to sand down and refinish.

    Other considerations

    When you rent a floor sander or floor buffer, there are a few additional items to keep in mind. Transporting. Rarely is a truck, van or trailer needed to transport a floor sander or buffer. Call your rental store ahead of pickup to determine if the rented floor sander will fit in your vehicle. Rental periods. Surface area, maintenance needed, and equipment choice will all play a role in your rental length. Rentals for floor sanders and buffers generally start at four hours. Rental periods of 24 hours or longer give you more wiggle room and sometimes come with additional perks like training. Power source. The machines are electrically powered, and most are able to plug into standard, grounded outlets.

    Frequently asked questions

    What is the best floor sander to rent? The best floor sander to rent for a DIY homeowner is most often an orbital floor sander. It typically takes longer to sand down than when using a drum sander, but has less risk of permanent damage. How much does a floor sander cost? Floor sanders cost thousands of dollars, which is why rental is such a practical option for tackling sanding hardwood floors. What grit sandpaper should I use for hardwood floors? It is a good idea to use multiple grits of sandpaper to achieve the desired results. The rental professionals at your local rental store will be able to offer advice on the best sandpaper to use. Should I use a drum or orbital sander? For most DIY hardwood floor refinishing jobs orbital sanders are the best choice. However, if your floors are badly damaged and you are able to have training, drum sanders may be the best option. Don’t be afraid to tackle your floor refinishing needs on your own, but do plan to practice and read up on how to best use the sander to ensure you don’t do permanent damage and do get beautiful results. Your local rental store can help you adequately prepare to take on the task. Contact your local, ARA-affiliated, rental store for information on available rental products and training to help you take care of your floor sanding needs. To locate the rental store nearest you, use the Rental Store Quick Locator above. Related articles: Portable Flooring Rental Choices Abound Portable Flooring Rental Choices Top 4 Tools Every Homeowner Should Rent