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Becoming a Floor Sander: An Overview of Floor Sanding and Finishing

Mini Max Model L55 Belt / Stroke SanderFloor sanders (also known as floor finishers) specialize in finishing new wood floors and refinishing existing ones. Because their specialty is limited to the sanding and finishing processes, floor sanders typically use a limited range of woodworking tools, particularly: industrial grade sanders, sandpaper, manual scrapers, floor waxing machines, and machines that apply protective wood coatings. Floor sanders use these tools to carry out the following tasks:

Smoothing new floors prior to the finishing process.

Using scrapers and sandpaper to address floor areas that sanders cannot reach.

Applying coats of finish to sanded floors and filler compound between individual floorboards.

Removing excess compound, glue, resin, or other substances from floorboards prior to the finishing process.

In some cases, floor sanders also assist in floor laying. This is especially the case at small woodworking companies that offer floor installation among other services.

Required knowledge

Floor finishers require knowledge that helps them perform the tasks above and service the machines they use, particularly:

Mechanical knowledge of new and used industrial woodworking machines, especially sanders and machines that apply finish.

Construction knowledge, especially knowledge of floor installation, floor improvement processes, and floor finishing processes.

Technical knowledge for interpreting floor plans, blueprints, and building models.

Required abilities and skills

Floor sanders require certain abilities and skills to complete their tasks, especially:

Arm and hand steadiness for guiding sensitive machines and adjusting their settings.

Near vision for observing the quality of floor surfaces at close distance.

Manual dexterity for grasping floor sanding and scraping tools.

Flexibility for bending, stretching, and twisting while performing work.

Listening skills for hearing and remembering the recommendations of customers and floor layers.

Adequate stamina for performing certain tasks, such as manual scraping or sanding, for an extended period of time.

Interpersonal skills for interacting with team members and resolving conflicts.

Job statistics

As of 2008, 12,000 floor sanders were employed in the U.S., with job growth of 7% to 13% expected between 2008 and 2018. As of 2009, the median annual salary for floor sanders was $32,770 ($15.76/hr.). According to a national work survey, 84% of floor finishers had a high school diploma or the equivalent; 15% had less than a high school diploma; and 1% percent had some college. Most floor finishers are self-employed or employed in the construction industry.

To learn more about becoming a floor sander, contacting a trade school that offers courses in floor finishing or shadowing floor sanders from a woodworking company are good options. Floor sanders can also receive training through private apprenticeship programs and training seminars offered by flooring companies.

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