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Phil, Mechanical Engineer
Category: Home Improvement
Satisfied Customers: 8675
Experience:  Retired contractor, 51 years experience
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I am trying to refinish floors in my almost 100 year old

Customer Question

I am trying to refinish floors in my almost 100 year old home. I am using a 4 disc orbital sander. However, evidently the finish on the floor must be the original finish. I put on new 36 grit pads and in a matter of seconds, they are loaded up and useless. If I continue to use them the old varnish or shellac or whatever it is starts melting and sticks the pad to the floor, also ruining the backing pad on the machine.
I have tried stripping the old finish, that saves a couple of sets of pads, but it still doesnt help much.
Can anyone help me? I have already spend a fortune on 36 grit pads and backing plates!!!
Mike Tate
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Home Improvement
Expert:  The Home Smithy replied 1 year ago.

Hi, Mike.

What you need is a machine that uses blades to cut off a small amount of the floor (approximately 1/16" to 1/4" depending on the floors condition). Using sanding discs will not work as you have noticed. The older floor coatings never dry out and harden enough to sand it off.

You can rent one at your local rental yard.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

That wont work!!! If I cut a 1/4 inch off the floor I will be into the tongue and groove!!!!!

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Relist: Inaccurate answer.
Expert:  Phil replied 1 year ago.


There is no easy solution with such thick build ups, especially given your experience with #36 grit paper.

I know of no easy solution.

3 or 4 passes with DADS Easy OFF Paint remover would work however, it is about 1/4 as toxic as the most popular paint removers on the market and easily twice as fast.

I have used a lot of it, be sure the room is well ventilated and that you use a rated respirator and heavy rubber gloves.

It can be a bit hard to find, many lumber yards carry it however.

Given the gummy nature of the old finish any sort of power plane or rotating head cutter is going to clog up too fast, or cut deeply into the floor, posing a whole new set of problems.

I think in the end you will be stuck with using a stripper, then the standard floor sanding protocols and equipment.


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