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Q: One visitor asked, "First, this is the most informative website I have found (after hours upon hours of research) for the subject of floor finishing. I am grateful for it and thank you. My question would be this:

I hired a professional sander to come in and prepare my floors for staining and poly (oil base-gloss by minwax super fast dry formula). They did a good job, but the house is 120 yrs. old and this particular floor is pine. There are some low spots which are VERY grainy (this is pine as well) and I messed up with the non-ventilation so pet hairs found their way into the room. The screen on a pole(220 grit) can't get into there. I keep reading about using buffers, I have read to use steel wool 000, screens 220, sand paper 220 etc. I have considered buying a buffer, but when I go to the stores they don't suggest steel wool and I'm not sure the buffers they sell have pads that can accept screens or paper. What kind of buffer is this? I am afraid to rent a huge buffer and attempt this, as I failed miserably with the rented sander and wound up hiring out the sanding job. At this point, I am screening the areas I can to break the glaze and going back over the sunk spots with a pad and my elbow grease. Not having nearly the problems with the maple floor they also prepared for me though!"

A: We just had a discussion about this at a forum I belong to. I have tried and do not like using a pole sander for the reason you mentioned. Also, it won't get right up to the quarter round and is difficult to control the amount of pressure. Nothing beats some fine sand paper, elbow grease and a good set of knee pads. The problem with steel wool is that it can get stuck on grainy spots and leave strands on the floor. Use a fine abrasive, 120 or finer to degloss and smooth out. I don't see any practical reason you would go out and purchase a buffer. Mine cost $2000. Not something that is done for a one time, or rare use.

When applying a polyurethane, remember that thin coats are always best. You have to try to ensure that not only the floor area, but the surrounding area is as clean as you can get it.

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