How To Choose The Right Floor Grinder & Sander
There are so many machines and tools for redoing or refurbishing floors—how do you know which is right for your project?
Whether you’re a professional contractor or a residential DIYer, it’s important to choose the right grinder or sander for your flooring. The wrong equipment could lead to damaged floors and incomplete projects. An improper sanding job can kill the look and functionality of your wood or concrete.
You’ll usually need to use a sander/grinder when revitalizing or updating concrete, wood floors, or decks. The purpose of sanders/grinders is to remove old finishes or seals to get down to the substrate base of the flooring material. This creates a blank canvas that allows you to refinish, reseal, or redesign the flooring.
Grinding and sanding are used for a variety of functions:
- Prepping floor for staining and sealing
- Exposing and finishing concrete floors (with “grind and seal”)
- Leveling surfaces
- Restoring wood
The right equipment can make the difference between a gorgeous, professional-looking flooring and an amateur, uneven surface.
So how do you choose the right floor grinder and sander to create attractive, fresh floors?
1. Know the basics.
Before you purchase a new piece of equipment, you should be familiar with the different types of sanders and grinders you could encounter.
Disc sanders and large angle grinders are the most common grinders for sanding jobs. These use a coarse buffing pad or sanding discs to remove old finish and level out floors.
Keep in mind that these sanders typically have high speeds. If you’re not a professional contractor, you’ll want to practice using the machine before using on your deck or concrete.
Palm and vibratory sanders are smaller and typically less powerful, so they do less damage to wood. This is a good choice for amateurs or DIYers. However, you want to be careful not to apply too much pressure or you could cause cross-grain marks.
Hand Held Belt sanders are typically lightweight and easy to handle. They work well for smaller areas, like the flat tops of deck railings or corners of concrete.
Hand Held Floor edgers are lighter, smaller commercial sanders. They are designed to work along the edge of the floor, typically along walls or other fixtures. They can be difficult to control, but they’re necessary to fully sand hard-to-reach corners and areas.
Commercial floor sanders use drum sanders or orbital sander designs. These can sometimes be too powerful for soft decks. They also can’t consistently and evenly sand decks with twisted, bowed, or warped boards. They tend to sand the high part but not the lower parts of the board.
If the deck or concrete hasn’t experienced any warping or cracking yet, a commercial power sander can be a good option.
You want to be aware of commercial drum sanders, which can remove a lot of wood at once and cause damage to the deck. This is a possibility for experienced users and professional contractors; we don’t recommend these for DIYers.
Large commercial vibratory and orbital sanders are typically very heavy—up to 100 pounds—and can be too heavy to transport and haul without a team of professionals. Still, these tend to be easier to control than drum sanders.
2. Choose a low speed for wood.
Wood is a softer material, so it calls for a softer sander. If the sander is too powerful, it can erode the natural grain of the wood.
Onfloor offers two low-speed grinders for restoring wood floors and decks.
The OF16S-L is a 16” sander that grinds and sands interior floors as well as smoothens exterior wood decks. It has 120V power, which is simple enough for DIYers yet powerful enough for professional contractors. This sander has a low speed of 500rpm, which makes it ideal for protecting the integrity of wood floors.
The OS20S-L120 is similar to the grinder above. It also has 120V power and 500rpm, but it’s a 20” sander. This means it can sand a greater area in a shorter period of time.
Best yet, all Onfloor grinders have a patented tool attachment system that’s the fastest tool change in the industry.
3. Choose a high speed for concrete.
Concrete generally requires a higher speed for a deeper grind. Concrete is a more durable material, so it can withhold more powerful sanding. Sealants and stains also tend to hold tighter on concrete than wood, so you need a more powerful machine to remove these coverings.
The OF16S-H is a 16” grinder with a high speed of 1000 rpm. Because of its speed and size, it has production rates as high as 300 square feet per hour. Along with the patented quick-change tool attachment system, it includes the Onfloor patented triple-belt planetary technology.
The OF20S-H is similar, but it’s 20” with 208-240V 1 Phase power. This allows the machine to have production rates as high as 500 square feet per hour. This works well as both a concrete grinder and polisher.
4. Get a multi-use tool.
If you’re not sure what kind of equipment is right for your flooring or if you have multiple jobs, get a tool that can do all of the above and more.
Our OF16Pro has multiple attachments and heads that allow it to function as a:
- Concrete grinder
- Concrete polisher
- Stone polisher
- Wood sander
- Wood deck resurfacer
For concrete, the OF16Pro can remove paint, mastic, and glue and prep concrete for sealing and coating. For wood, it can remove worn finishes, prep and flatten the surface, and refinish interior flooring.
The 16Pro also has variable speed control, from 0 to 1450rpm. This gives greater control no matter the material or environment. With Onfloor’s patented tool change—the fastest in the industry—this OF16Pro can go from soft indoor floors to harsh concrete surfaces in no time!
You can also find a similar machine in larger sizes like the 20Pro, which can prep more than 600 square feet of concrete per hour.
The 30Pro is so powerful and large that it can prep more than 1500 square feet of concrete per hour. It also consistently and evenly grinds both high spots and low spots, so it works well for warped wood or cracked concrete. This is one of the best machines on the market for following the contour of the flooring for a clean scratch.
These Pro machines are best for professional contractors who want to accomplish a lot in a little amount of time. These can make strong use of their investment by hosting multiple tools and attachments with just one piece of machinery.
5. Find a floor edger.
You’ll need to use a floor edger if you have any tough-to-reach areas. This includes sanding under overhangs and shelving units or around permanent fixtures.
We highly recommend that you use a separate floor edger for corners, walls, and fixtures. Typical sanders and grinders can damage soft walls and features.
We recommend the OFEdge 120 18” floor edger. It can go as low as 4” and 11” deep under shelving units and other overhangs. It has unique edging wheels and a maneuverable head to reach any corner or area with precision. It’s also vertically adjustable, so it’s easy to control while standing.
6. Use a vacuum.
Don’t forget to vacuum up the dust particles after sanding or grinding. This is an important step in the prepping process for both wood and concrete. You need to get rid of dust and gunk before cleaning, staining, sealing, or coating.
Our DynaVac Pro 2000 Vacuum has a 220 CFM dust collector, 110” of water lift, and an efficiency rating of 99% at .5 microns. This means it’s one of the most effective commercial vacuums you’ll find on the market! It even has a HEPA kit available for cleaner vacuuming and air quality.
Selecting the right grinder and sander for your flooring restoration project can be a challenge. You need to consider speed, power, usability, and floor space. You also need to take into account the types of buffer and sanding pads you’ll use.
If you’re not sure where to begin, contact Onfloor for a free consultation.
We can help pair your project with the right equipment in minutes!
Chat with us now to get started.