When it comes time to sand down your tired and worn out hardwood floor, it is always a good idea to accustom yourself with the machines you will be using.Choosing the right sanding machine for the job is important and choosing the wrong one can make life much more difficult than it need be, which is never a fun spot to be in.

To save you time, money and a ton of frustrations, here are the two main types of sanders and when you should use each of them.

Drum Wood Floor Sander

One of the more popular types of sanding machines on the market. A drum sander is ideal for re-finishing a floor as they tend to do an amazing job at a fairly quick pace. Typically drum sanders are large with an 8” wide drum and a 20” long sheet of sandpaper.

Due to the size, there are times when a drum sander may not be your best choice. For example if your floor requires you to sand at right angles to the wood grain then this probably isn’t the machine for you. Using a drum sander in a situation like this will likely create an increase in deep scratches, which is not a good thing.

Instead you would probably want to use the next machine.

Orbital Wood Floor Sander

The other popular choice for sanding machines. An orbital sander has a 12” by 18” sanding pad that oscillates and back and forth in an orbital fashion, hence the name. Due to the way that it operates, an orbital sander is safe to use for cross grain jobs and is usually ideal for hallways, entrance ways or pantries.

The biggest issue with an orbital sander is the time it takes to complete the job. These machines tend to be much slower than the drum sander, so if you are in a hurry, this is not the sander for you.

A little piece of advice on these two types of sanders. If you have a job that is able to handle a drum sander (if you don’t have any cross sanding to do) then go for the drum sander. It will make your life much easier.In fact, drum sanders are used about 10 times more than orbital sanders so that should tell you something. While the orbital sander has its place, the drum sander is by far the better choice for most floor sanding projects.