Published on 28 June 2021

Posted in Floor Sanding Tips

Limitations of hand sanders

Hand sanders are excellent tools for small jobs such as sanding wooden furniture or small imperfections on walls. However, when it comes to larger surface areas such as flooring, hand sanders can make your task much tougher. Even though it’s possible to use a hand sander to remove varnish from wooden flooring, you will typically not be able to achieve the same quality as you would using a floor sander. Additionally, hand sanders lack the raw power that floor sanders offer, meaning you will have to work much harder on the task, both in terms of effort and the amount of time you’re investing.

You may be thinking about using a hand sander in an attempt to save money, however, floor sanders can be hired at a reasonable price and offer a higher-quality finish. You may also end up spending more due to the high amount of sanding sheets needed to replenish your smaller hand sander throughout the task.

Step by step process to remove varnish from floors with hand sanders

You can efficiently remove varnish from wooden floors using this simple step-by-step process:

  1.     Prepare the area

The products and processes used to strip varnish can be messy and cause damage to surrounding objects/areas. It is therefore recommended to lay down dust sheets to protect surrounding areas including walls. You should also ensure you keep the area well ventilated.


  1.     Pick the correct stripper

Firstly, you will need to choose the correct paint stripper for your needs. If you only want to remove the varnish (not the paint), then use a liquid stripper but make sure you do not pour it directly onto the wood; alternatively, a spray stripper will work similarly. If you are looking to remove both varnish and paint, then use a gel stripper.


  1.     Apply the paint stripper

Apply a generous layer of the stripper using a dispensable brush. Make sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions to confirm you are using the correct method.


  1.     Wait a few minutes

Let the stripper act for the amount of time directed by your chosen product’s user instructions.


  1.     Scrape the varnish away

Use a chemical-resistant metal scraper to remove the loosened varnish. You may need to apply more strippers in certain areas to loosen stubborn varnish patches. Afterwards, wash down the surface to remove excess chemicals.


  1.     Finish with a sander

Use a sander – ideally an orbital floor sander – as a final touch to remove any excess varnish and smooth out imperfections. This will ensure you have a perfect finish and will prep the wood for new painting/varnishing.

You will need to sand the whole area with low grit sandpaper and then repeat with higher grit sandpaper. We recommend using 150-grit sandpaper to start with and then move onto 220-grit sandpaper. Keep the sander moving at all times and make sure you work in the direction of the wood grain. Once you have finished sanding, use a vacuum cleaner to remove all the excess dust. Your flooring should now be smooth and varnish-free.


For more information and guides on how to hire a floor sander to remove varnish on your floors please contact us at 02084 276604 or fill out a contact form to get in touch with one of our highly trained experts.

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