Pine is a soft wood that requires a more delicate style of sanding. While several types of sanders can be used, each must be used with a specific technique. Sanding pine as you would hardwood will result in scratches, bumps and gashes that may be irreparable. When you choose between possible sanders, practice on pine scrap wood before beginning on your floors.
A belt sander can be either handheld or stationary. With a handheld belt sander, the user moves the sander over the area to be sanded. With a stationary belt sander, the user moves the material to be sanded underneath the sander. For sanding floors, only a handheld belt sander will work. For sanding pine floors, however, belt sanders are not the best choice because they sand too aggressively for soft wood. If your pine floor is very old, a belt sander could easily destroy it with gashes and gouges. If your pine floor is brand new, a belt sander can assist in removing the first rough layer of your pine slats.
You can purchase a disk sander as a handheld or stationary machine, but it is typically sold as a stationary machine. Disk sanders are gentler than belt sanders, making handheld disk sanders a better choice for finishing the edges of pine floors. Disk sanders are not often rented or sold as upright machines that can be pushed along large floor areas. Older models of disk sanders frequently make circular marks and scratches on the surface being sanded.
Orbital sanders remove less material at one time than both belt and disk sanders, making them the gentlest option of the three. By removing less material at once, orbital sanders prevent the user from making scratches and gashes as easily in the soft pine. An orbital sander can be handheld to finish the edges of a pine floor or upright for the large central area of your pine floors. Upright orbital sanders are moved slowly along the floor as a vacuum is moved across a rug.
When you need to sand large areas quickly, use a drum sander. If your pine floors cover a large room or multiple areas of the house, a drum sander may accomplish the sanding job fastest. Sand and debris are suctioned back into the machine for easy cleanup as you move the sander across the floor.
Sanding pine wood is a delicate process in which a gentle touch is preferable over speed. For this reason, upright orbital sanders should be used to sand the large central area of your pine floors. For a uniform look, a handheld orbital sander should also be used for the edges. While it may take longer to move an orbital sander across your floors, you are most likely to get the smoothest finish with an orbital sander.