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abiso 07-24-2009 11:01 AM

Cost to have a pro sand painted wood floors?
I know this will vary widely, but I'm trying to get a rough idea of how much it would cost to pay a pro to sand painted wood floors. About 700 square feet or so. We've never done any refinishing and I'm nervous about messing the floors up, and I read that we might end up spending a fortune on sandpaper because of the paint anyway, so we might as well pay someone else. We're closing on our house September 10 and have until the end of the month to move in, so it's the ideal time to do it all, but the weekends that month are full of weddings, so we won't have that much time to do it. I thought we could pay someone just to do the sanding, and then we could stain and poly. There will be no furniture to move, and we'll pull the carpet up ourselves.

Nestor_Kelebay 07-24-2009 03:33 PM

Probably the fastest, easiest and cheapest way to sand the paint off a floor is not by calling a hardwood flooring contractor, but by phoning any of the companies listed under Janitorial Equipment & Supplies in your yellow pages phone directory.

That's because you can sand that paint off, but, if whom ever put that paint on knew anything about paint, he would have put on an oil based paint (actually an "alkyd" paint) which would stand up much better to foot traffic than a latex paint. And, alkyd paints are chemically very similar to the polyurethanes commonly used as hardwood floor finishes or "varnish". In fact, the polyurethanes sold as varnish or hardwood floor finishes are also called "urethane modified alkyds" in technical literature to differentiate them from other kinds of polyurethanes, such as moisture cure polyurethanes.

And, every janitorial service company will have a floor machine, and the sell sanding disks that fit on floor machines specifically for sanding the polyurethane off of large gymnasium floors. So, any janitorial service company that sands the polyurethane off of a gymnasium floor will have the equipment and people experienced in this work to sand any kind of paint off your floor.

And, a janitorial service company generally charges less per hours work than a hardwood flooring contractor.

Go to
CENTAUR Floor Machines Limited
and click on the Floor Machines link
The "Woodpecker" floor machine is an ordinary floor machine connected to a vaccuum cleaner...

Or, just phone around to the places listed under Janitorial Equipment & Supplies in your area and find out who sells "sanding screens" for floor machines. That place will know who buys them, and whomever buys them is almost certainly in the business of sanding floors with a floor machine in preparation for refinishing.

Home Depot rents floor machines, and if you buy a 120 grit sanding screen and a high productivity pad to hold the sanding screen in place, you could do most of the work yourself.

On the following web page, the small diamond disks are for hand grinders to polish marble and granite floors and counter tops, whereas the large 17 and 20 inch sanding screens are for use with a floor machine:

Janitorial Supplies - Sanding Screens

The price of $50 to $90 for a 17 to 20 inch sanding screen is almost certainly for a box of 10. Where I buy my sanding screen, they sell them individually for about 7 or 8 dollars each.

abiso 07-24-2009 06:22 PM

Okay, thanks! Do you think we'd be less likely to do damage than with a drum sander if we used one of these ourselves?

Nestor_Kelebay 07-24-2009 10:12 PM

Let me preface by saying I used my Centaur Rabbit II to take oil based paint off my sister's concrete basement floor, and then she installed vinyl composition tiles over it with her husband. And, that's the limit of my experience removing paint or polyurethane from floors with a floor machine.

But, I can tell you that it's done all the time.

I don't think you're likely to do any damage to your hardwood for two good reasons:

1. because you'll be able to see that the paint layer is getting very thin once you start to see the paint colour disappearing from areas on the floor..

2. no one would have sanded the varnish or polyurethane off the floor before painting it. They would have cleaned the floor and then painted over the varnish or polyurethane. About the only place you're going to have paint directly on hardwood will be the high traffic areas where the old varnish or polyurethane might have been worn off. But in that case the surface of the wood will have dirt embedded in it anyhow and will need to be sanded down. When you start to see the floor colour changing from whatever it is now to something else then you're probably not actually sanding wood yet. You're probably at the boundary between the paint and the old varnish or polyurethane. But, in what would logically be the high traffic areas, I'd be cautious and switch to the drum sander so that you're sanding with the grain of the wood, not across it. And, even if you get overzealous, and sand into the surface of the wood, you would still need to switch to a drum sander (that sands WITH the wood grain) for the final sanding anyhow, and that will sand off any scratches across the grain left by the sanding screen.

Alternately, you can sand off the paint and varnish with a coarse screen, then sand the wood down with a medium screen, and then use a fine screen on the wood. That way you can just use a medium and fine sandpaper in the drum sander to remove the sanding scratches left by the floor machine. So, the bulk of the work would be done with the floor machine and only the final sanding left to the drum sander.

The critical thing here is that you need to vaccuum the dust up as the screen creates it, and the easiest way to do that is by having a 1 1/2 inch nozzle on the skirt of the floor machine you can connect a vaccuum cleaner hose to. Most people just use a 1 1/2 inch hole saw to drill a hole in the skirt and push a 3 inch long 1 1/2 inch brass tail piece from a kitchen sink through that hole. That way the air flow is INTO the space under the skirt where all the work is being done, and up the hose into the vaccuum cleaner. What you might want to do is explain that to the guy at your local Home Depot tool rental shop, and he might have a skirt for the machine with a 1 1/2 inch hole already in it. Or, if he has a damaged skirt (cuz someone smacked the machine too hard into a wall with a metal skirt) he might see the increase in sales potential by putting a hole in that skirt for a vaccuum cleaner hose.

In janitorial equipment, 1 1/4 and 1 1/2 are the two standard sizes for vaccuum hose.

Finally, you should also pay 5 or 6 dollars for a white, yellow or red polishing pad just to learn how to "steer" the machine. It will take an hour or so of practicing with it to get used to steering it.

You don't just push a floor machine around. You raise or lower the handle while it's running. Doing that shifts more of the weight of the machine onto the front or back portion of the turning pad, and that makes the heavier portion of the pad grip the floor better than the other side of the pad, and that in turn makes the machine want to move to the left or to the right. You actually steer it, not just push it around. You only push or pull when you want the machine to go backwards or forwards, but the left and right motion of the machine is done by lifting and lowering the handle. The higher you lift or the more you lower the handle, the faster the machine wants to move left or right.

The first thing to do is to find out if any of the rental machines at Home Depot are set up to be used in conjuntion with a vaccuum cleaner. In my opinion they SHOULD be because otherwise they're use is limited to stripping, cleaning and polishing hard surface flooring, and helping to clean carpets. With a vaccuum hose attachment on the skirt, they can also be used to remove paint and varnish from floors.

And, you will need something called a "high productivity pad". This is a relatively thin pad made from a VERY AGRESSIVE nylon Scotchbrite fabric. You mount the high productivity pad on the "drive block" if the floor machine, and press the sanding screen onto the high productivity pad or, with the high productivity pad already mounted on the machine, set the machine down on the sanding screen. Then when you start the machine going, make sure it's on it's low speed setting if it has more than one speed. The reason why is because the sanding screen will grip the paint very much harder than the nylon cleaning or polishing pad you were practicing with, and so it'll take a bit of skill to keep the machine balanced so that it doesn't want to pull one way or the other. If it starts pulling one way an it takes you a bit of time to figure out whether to lift or lower the handle, then the machine might get away on you. The saving grace is that these machines have the on/off switch mounted right on the handle so that as soon as you let go of the handle, then the machine stops.

Not sure if I answered your question.

Nestor_Kelebay 07-24-2009 10:41 PM


We're closing on our house September 10 and have until the end of the month to move in, so it's the ideal time to do it all, but the weekends that month are full of weddings, so we won't have that much time to do it.
I think it would make more sense to do this work room by room. There's nothing I've ever done more than once that I didn't learn anything. So, the second time you do the work, the results will be better than the first and third better than second, and so on.

Just start with the floors in the bedrooms where you might end up with large area rugs over the walk ways anyhow to have a warmer floor to walk on in bare feet. And, work your way up to the dining room and living rooms.

abiso 07-25-2009 12:03 PM

Great information. Thank you! Any other tips are welcome as well.

kwmainer 08-20-2009 10:34 AM

Hum... we did this in our So. Florida house. The entire upstairs (about 600 sq ft).

Here's a tip. Make sure you remove any 1/4 round and base before you do it. Sanding will take the floor down a fraction, you don't want to leave a 'lip' standing up around the edge of every wall.

Also this may be somewhat understood, but... it took us about 2 days of sanding (with prof. help) and another day for polish/stain/seal. BUT, it took 2 weeks of dry time, with the florida heat/humity. You would not want to move furniture around on it until it cures. We didn't stay in the house for a week after, due to the smell.

Hope it's working out great!

markleena 01-10-2012 02:32 AM

Great post and informative too. Thanks for sharing...

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