3M Science: Sculpting the Geometry of Abrasive Grain

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3M’s ability to transform new ideas into ingenious products that enable the industry to work more efficiently, productively, and brilliantly is driven by our passion for the industries, businesses, and people we serve. It’s who we are. We bring 3M Science to the hardwood floor industry because sanding floors is one part science, one part art, and many parts hard, dusty work. Producing the highest-quality results with the least amount of effort requires a specific, well-defined sequence of steps. For example, every grit on every belt, disc, roll, or sheet is designed for a specific floor sanding stage. Choose coarse grits for removing heavy stock or finish buildup, and finer grades for creating a smooth, beautiful finish.

3M offers a complete product group of many products that help make the difficult job of making hardwood floors beautiful so much easier. With a complete line of safety products, we can help protect you and your workers. We can protect the jobsite with a complete masking and tape system to keep dust to a minimum. 3M Hardwood Epoxy Repair products can make quick work of board replacement, transition installation, and loose board syndrome.

It’s standard practice in floor sanding to start with a coarse-grit abrasive to flatten the floor and remove scratches, and then follow with medium-grit and fine-grit abrasives to create a smooth finish. The best way to choose a sequence is to select the finest grade you want to finish with and work back to the coarser grades, skipping no more than one grade between each sanding. For example, if you want your finest grade to be 100, the sequence you would follow is 40-60-100 (skipping only grades 50 and 80). If you want to finish the job with grade 80, use the sequence 36-50-80 (skipping only grades 40 and 60).

No two floors are exactly the same – similar, but not the same. Each floor is a different sanding experience and should be approached with a different perspective. Always inspect, repair, and clean each floor prior to sanding.

Here are a few sanding tips:

  • Always wear appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE) like 3M™ Respiratory, Eye and Hearing Protection.
  • Reversing your floor sanding belts at the halfway point will help them wear longer.
  • Remember to unplug all machines when changing abrasives. When installing a new edger disc, turn the edger on its side to prevent grit packing in the bolt hole.
  • Always vacuum or sweep up between cuts of sanding and screening. If you don’t, the sawdust can turn into little “ball bearings” that will lift your machine off the floor, preventing it from cutting the wood.
  • Use random orbital discs on tough-to-reach areas and stair treads. 3M™ Regalite™ Quick Change 5-inch paper is the same great abrasives used on your big machine and edger.
  • New multi-head sanding attachments provide an alternative to give your buffer maximum usage, saving you time and money. Six pads on the drive plate affixed with 3M™ Hookit™ cloth disc 900DZ cuts fast with 3M™ ceramic abrasive grain resin-bonded to a light and flexible J-weight cloth backing. Available in seven grades, this 5-inch disc features an open-coat design and anti-static properties, making it exceptionally well-suited for materials that tend to load. The 3M™ Hookit™ system makes for quick disc change-out and easy re-use.
  • Fast, efficient stock removal makes our 3M™ Hookit™ cloth disc 900DZ one of 3M’s best discs for hardwood floors multi head disc applications. 3M™ ceramic abrasive grain exceeds both aluminum oxide and silicon carbide mineral in cut-rate and durability.
  • For screening, use a 3M™ driver pad to reduce screen slippage and increase sanding efficiency.
  • To reduce initial scratching, always start a new screen in a closet or other inconspicuous location. If a closet isn’t available, start against a wall and work toward the center. If the screen needs to be changed, start on the opposite wall and work toward the center to make the scratches match.
  • For abrading between coats, 3M™ has multiple between coat systems. Our surface preparation pads or between coats pads combined with 3M™ gold abrasive disc in 150, 180, and 240 grits offers the start to a perfect finish.
  • Preserve the beauty of your floors with Scotch™ felt pads. Equipped with powerful adhesive and durable felt, these floor protectors adhere effortlessly to the legs of your furniture and provide long-lasting protection from gouges and scratches. They come in multiple sizes and colors, so there’s a set that blends perfectly with all your décor. So help protect your investment, and enjoy your beautiful floors for years to come with Scotch™ felt pads.

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