Buffing vs Sanding Hardwood: Which is the Best Choice?
6 mins read

Buffing vs Sanding Hardwood: Which is the Best Choice?

Many homeowners struggle with the choice of buffing or sanding their floors, wondering which option will give them the best results.

In this blog post, we’ll tell you everything we know about buffing vs sanding hardwood floors and explore their pros and cons. 

We’ll also discuss when to use each method, what equipment is needed, and also help you decide which one is better for your floor.

What is buffing?

Buffing is a method to polish your hardwood floor. It is done using a buffing machine. The machine has pads that spin at high speeds. 

This causes friction between the pad and the floor surface.  And the friction helps to remove scratches, scuffs, and other imperfections from the top layer of the floor.

The buffing process does not involve removing any of the wood material from your floor. 

Instead, it simply smoothens rough areas or scratches on the floor surface. Buffed floors look shiny and new.

Pros and cons of buffing

Buffing helps restore the natural beauty of your hardwood floors without removing or damaging the wood on the floor.It is basically for surface-level cleaning and not for handling deep scratches or severe damage.
It will remove the build-up or residue left behind by cleaning the productIt cannot change the color or finish of your existing floor as much as sanding
It is cheaper than sanding.
It makes your floor shiny and bright.
It generally takes less time than sanding
Pros and Cons of buffing

Equipment used for buffing

The primary equipment used is floor buffers or floor polishers, and buffing pads.

In addition to these, cleaning supplies such as a dust mop or vacuum cleaner are used to remove debris and clean the floor.

When to buff your floor

Buffing your hardwood floor is an essential part of its maintenance.

If your hardwood floors look dull and lifeless, even after cleaning them with a variety of products, it might be time to think about buffing. 

Another indication is the presence of minor scratches or scuff marks on the surface. Foot traffic can easily cause small scratches and marks on your hardwood flooring that can accumulate over time, leading to an overall dull appearance.

If you are planning to apply coats of finish or sealant then buffing is necessary. This smooths out any rough spots on the floor allowing the coating to adhere better on the floor.

It’s also important to note that buffing is not a substitute for refinishing or sanding damaged floors. If there is deep and heavy damage present on the surface, then it’s best to opt for sanding instead.

How long to go between buffing?

Ideally, you should aim to buff your floors at least once every three to five years if they receive regular traffic.

The frequency of buffing will depend on the amount of traffic in your home or office. High-traffic areas will need more frequent buffing than low-traffic areas.

What is sanding

Sanding is removing the top layer of finish from hardwood floors. It involves using an abrasive material to scrape off any imperfections, scratches, and dents on the surface.

Pros and cons of sanding

It gives your floor a fresh and brand-new appearanceIt produces a lot of dust during the process
It removes any scratches, dents, or stains on the surface.It’s expensive compared to buffing
The process allows you to change the color of your flooring by staining
Prepares the floor for applying new finishes or sealants
Pros and Cons of Sanding

Equipment used for sanding

The basic equipment needed is a drum sander, edger, and buffer.

For smaller projects, an orbital sander may be sufficient. But for larger projects or heavily damaged floors, a drum sander is required.

In addition to a floor sander, sandpaper discs of varying grits are also needed depending on how much material needs to be removed.

Other basic tools include a dust mask or respirator to protect against sawdust inhalation and earplugs for noise protection. 

A vacuum cleaner should also be used throughout the process to clean the dust.

When to sand your floor

Examine the overall appearance of the floor. If there are deep scratches, dents, or stains that can’t be removed through buffing or polishing, then it may be time for a complete sanding.

When the finish has worn off completely. This happens over time due to normal wear and tear and exposure to sunlight. When this occurs, you will notice dullness, fading, or discoloration on your flooring.

 If you’re planning on refinishing or applying a coat of sealant

What is the difference between buffing and sanding

The key difference between buffing and sanding is the level of abrasiveness each technique uses. 

Buffing is generally less aggressive than sanding, making it a good choice for maintaining already-finished floors or removing light scratches and scuffs. 

Whereas sanding is suitable for deep refinishing jobs where significant damage needs to be repaired by removing several layers of finish.

Which one is better?

In the end, both buffing and sanding have their own unique benefits.

If you’re looking for a quick way to restore or fix your floor without stripping off any finishes, then buffing might be right for you. 

If your floors are damaged beyond simple repair and require deeper refinishing work then consider hiring professionals to perform resurfacing, refinishing, and sanding.

No matter which option you choose, it’s important to use the right types of equipment, techniques, and professionals to achieve the best results.

Which option are you going with? Tell us more about the experience in the comments!