Screening vs. Sanding Hardwood Floors

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Sep 252017

A common question we get asked is about “screening” vs. “sanding hardwood floors.  Here is the basic difference:


If your hardwood floors are in good shape with no deep scratches, dings, dents or warped boards and they are just lacking the shine and luster you see in new wood floors then a “Screen & Shine” or “Buff & Coat” job might be what you need.  A hardwood floor screening machine is quite similar to what you may have seen being used in your supermarket to clean and buff linoleum or vinyl floors.


Hardwood Floor Screening / Buffing Machine.

The buffer machine uses a large, circular soft pad with sandpaper “screen” discs on it to lightly and gently take off and the top coat finish and buff the wood floors in preparation for a new finish coat(s). Having your wood floors screened instead of sanded is a quick, cost-effective way to get them to shine and look like new again.


If you think your wood floors are in fairly good shape and just need to be cleaned and shined, call JOE PALUMBO at: (516) 322-8630.  Located in Westbury, NY, Joe will come over and give you a fast, free estimate and let you know if your wood floors can be brought back to looking new with a “Screen & Shine” job. 

Long Island NY hardwood floor contractor, Joe Palumbo

Joe Palumbo, owner-operator (516) 322-8630



A hardwood floor belt sanding maching like this one costs about $5,000 and is not a machine for a Do It Yourselfer!

Sanding hardwood floors uses a heavy duty belt sanding machine also called a Drum Sander. This machine sands the top of your hardwood floors down far enough to remove all scratches and imperfections and makes them perfectly flat and smooth like newly milled wood again.  This is what most wood floors need if they have not been refinished in years and/or have been damaged, dinged and scratched from heavy traffic and wear.  If you have deep scratches on your hardwood floors, perhaps where someone moved heavy furniture across it, this is a situation where you want your wood floors sanded.

Professional Belt Sanding machines for hardwood floors can cost up to $5,000 and are not anything a novice or DIY homeowner wants to try. These machines require experience and skill to operate as the sanding belt is very aggressive and unless you have a “feather” touch you risk having the belt sander burrowing down into the wood and damaging the floors.

We use drum belt-sanders for most of the hardwood floor refinishing jobs we do on Long Island.  Sanding wood floors like this takes the top layer of wood off and brings them down to clean, untarnished wood and makes them look like new again.   The way the process works is the hardwood floor belt sander operator goes over the wood floors several times with this machine, using progressively finer sandpaper on the belt.  It is absolutely vital that an aggressive drum sanding machine such as this be kept moving! If you also the sanding belt to stay in the same spot it will burrow deep ridges into your wood floor.  The operator of a hardwood floor drum sander also needs to have the experience and skill to smoothly raise and lower and drum sanding belt each time he or she starts and finishes a “pass” or “run” across the floors. Failure to smoothly raise and lower the drum will result in uneven, bumpy floors that give a “washboard” effect.  Really bad mistakes while operating hardwood floor sanding machines are obvious when they happen but unfortunately the subtle mistakes of a novice only become obvious once a finish coat is put on the floors.  Not the time you want to find out you need to re-sand your floors to get them smoother!  Once you put the finish coat on is when you really see the difference between the skill of an experienced hardwood floor refinisher and an inexperienced DIY-er.

Edge-sanding-maching-hardwood-floors-LI-NYWhen we sand hardwood floors with a belt-sander, we also have to use an Edge Sanding Machine because a belt sanding machine can only get so close to the edges of the room.  An Edge Sanding machine allows us to sand right up to the walls and get in small tight places like corners and closets. It uses a disc of sandpaper rotating at high speeds.  Professional edge sanding machines for refinishing hardwood floors can cost up to $2,000 and also require a high level of skill to operate.  The edge sander must be held perfectly level and be kept moving as you edge sand the room or you can risk taking gouges and crescent moon shaped divots in the wood floors.

Let’s be clear, we are not trying to scare anyone with this information.  Sometimes, due to limited budgets a capable homeowner will want to refinish hardwood floors themselves.  Just be aware of the issues we are discussing here.  Be careful while using heavy duty sanding machines on hardwood floors.  If you have a balanced, “feather” touch while running them you should be okay.  Just please do not underestimate how quickly they can sand divots into your wood floors!  Take these tips we are providing here, maybe watch some YouTube videos too, and by all means, refinish your hardwood floors yourself.  It’s not brain surgery and can be done!

As we work Edge Sanders over wood floors we progressively use finer sandpaper until the surface is smooth and flawless.

Once all the hardwood floors have been gone over with the Drum Belt Sander and the Edge Sander and the whole floor is blended into a silky smooth surface, we introduce the Hardwood Floor SCREENER aka BUFFING MACHINE.  This is the final step in getting hardwood floors prepared for top finish coats of water or oil based polyurethane.  A buffing machine uses progressively finer sanding screens until it is sanded as well as fine furniture might be.


Wood floor screens for a buffer machine.


Once your hardwood floor refinisher is satisfied that the wood floors are sanded properly, the finish coats start to go on.  The first coat is a WOOD SEALER. This will always bring up the grain of the wood and your floors will no longer look as smooth as they were.  Do not panic.  This is supposed to happen.

Refinishing Hardwood floors long island NY

It is necessary to SCREEN the floors again and CUT THE GRAIN off to prepare the wood for the finish coats of water or oil based Polyurethane.  If all the above steps were done properly, including careful and thoroughly vacuuming all dust before laying on finish coats of polyurethane, then your floor should be looking as beautiful as new in the end.



Aug 252016

Searching for “cheap hardwood floor refinishers?

You get what you pay for, right?  With that being said, we will give you the best value and quality hardwood floor refinishing for your money.  Here is why:

Some people searching for cheap hardwood floor refinishers only focus on the cost per square foot or the overall cost of the hardwood flooring refinishing job.  At Advanced Hardwood Flooring Long Island NY we are honestly not trying to charge more than the fair and reasonable cost for hardwood floor refinishing jobs.  We have been refinishing wood floors for 70+ years (3rd generation family owned and operated).  So we know what it costs to do a wood floor job the RIGHT WAY.  We do every wood floor job as if it were in our own home or family or friends’ home.

Unfortunately, we are called too many times to repair hardwood floors that another wood floor contractor messed up.  We are not trying to use scare tactics to sell you.  Look at the photos below.  We recently took them at a home we were called out to give an estimate to fix this botched job.  See all the dips and divots?  They are the darker lines you see in the photo…

hardwood floor refinishing cheap job

The dips and divots in the floor above were created by an un-experienced or careless wood floor contractor during the floor sanding process.  The sanding machines professional wood floor contractors use for hardwood floors are powerful and can do a great deal of damage in the wrong hands, sometimes even ruining the wood floors beyond repair.

sanding-wood-floors-NY-Long-IslandTake a look at a hardwood floor sander in this photo.  It has a powerful motor than spins a sandpaper belt at high speeds.  If you are not moving the sander across the floor at a steady, even pace you will get an uneven floor.  If the operator pauses in place for even a split-second, the floor will get divots worn into the wood.  If a wood floor contractor is doing a rush job to save time and money, your floor will not have that smooth, seamless shine that is expected on hardwood floors.  Each pass of the belt sander should move smoothly, at a steady and slow pace, across the entire length of the floor, and in the same direction as the floor boards and grain of the wood is.  You just can’t rush this.  Well, you could, which is when you end up with wood floors that look like this unsightly, embarrassing mess in the photo below.  Not only is this nightmare of a floor riddled with divots (you can clearly see where the belt sander rested too long in spots), this floor also shows us that the operator was moving the sanding machine across the grain.  Yikes!  Look at all the lines diagonal to the wood planks.

hardwood floor refinishing cheapest contractor

This wood floor is laden with divots from a careless hardwood floor contractor.

Think all wood floor refinishers do the same quality job?  Think again.  Wood floor sanding requires a delicate and experienced touch.  And there are several stages to the process that need to be done right or your floors will never look good.  The proper way to sand down wood floors is to go over them several times, each pass with a finer grade sandpaper, until they are as smooth as a fine piece of furniture.  And it iss a multi-step process.  Once we are done with the Belt Sanding Machine, we switch to an Orbital Sanding Machine (shown in photo below).  This machine is for fine sanding and cutting the grain between coats of varnish.   What does that mean?  Well, when you lay the first coat of sealer on freshly sanded hardwood floors, the tiny wood fibers tend to rise and stick up.


If you don’t “cut the grain” off hardwood floors after the first coat of sealer by sanding it with a fine mess screen sandpaper on an orbital sander, you will never get that smooth as glass look.  Your hardwood floors will be rough and look something like this in the photo below…

hardwood floor refinishing cheap company

This wood floor contractor skipped a step to save time and money. They failed to “cut the grain” between coats of floor finish.

Fortunately, we were able to restore the damaged wood floors in this home and repair them back to new.  But it cost this homeowner not only the extra cost for us to fix it but the TIME, TROUBLE and aggravation.

If you hire the right hardwood flooring contractor, guys who have experience and care, who take pride in their work like we do, when the coats of varnish are put down on your floor it should look something like this…


And between each and every step, painstaking efforts are done to keep dust particles from mixing in with the varnish.  This takes time.  This takes lots of careful cleaning with tact clothes and vacuums.  This also often requires to turn off the air conditioner and fans so dust particles do not float and land on the varnish before it dries.  This often requires us to work in hot, stuffy rooms with still air.  But, this is what you have to do to get a hardwood floor finished properly.   If everything is done carefully and correctly, your hardwood floors will end up like this…

Hardwood floor job done right

If done properly, your hardwood floors should last 10 years of more without ever a care or worry.  So, please, when you are searching for an estimate for hardwood floor refinishing, make sure you compare apples to apples.  Make sure they contractor’s estimate tells you the following:

Hardwood floor estimate checklist

  • What kind of machines will they use to sand down your wood floors with?
  • How experienced is the operator?
  • How many coats of varnish will they use?
  • Will they do any sanding between coats to “cut the grain”?
  • Will they be carefully cleaning before and after all coats of varnish to minimize dust?
  • Will they be turning off Air Conditioner, heater, or fans to minimize dust during wet coat applications?

You should also ask to see photos of their work.  Good luck and well wishes to all of you who are searching for a discount hardwood floor contractor.  We believe our company offers the most QUALITY and VALUE for the cost because we know we care enough to do all our hardwood floor refinishing jobs as if they were our own floors.  Advanced Hardwood Flooring, Inc, located in Westbury Long Island NY proudly services Nassau County and Western Suffolk County, New York.