October 27, 2022

Belt Sander vs Orbital Sander for floors

Features of a belt sander

Cylindrical drums

The belt sander has two cylindrical drums around which a closed loop of abrasive paper travels continuously. When it comes to operation, one drum is powered by an electric motor,  while the other is spring-loaded to maintain tension on the belt. 

The belt sander features smooth flat surfaces and the edges of workpieces along the grain. For a hybrid sanding tool, you might have to consider one with built-in dust collectors making your tool a handy one that does not generate much dust. 

Speed variance

Variable speed features give you fine work, allowing your belt sander to remove any material from wood in no time. The high speed makes your sanding tool more efficient.  It is ideal for aggressive work and large and flat surfaces. Expect better results when working along the grain.  The ability to control speed makes your belt sander more versatile, as you can adjust speed depending on the material. 

A belt sander quickly removes large amounts of material from wood floors to raw lumber, using different grits of sandpaper to remove multiple layers of wood, including varnish or paint, to create a smooth surface.

man-using-a-belt-sander

Rollers 

Rollers at the base use a loop of sandpaper known as drums for spinning fast, making belt sanders so powerful. Belt sanders used on flooring come in handheld and walk-behind belt models, making them handy. The belt sanders are also available in stationary models mounted on a workbench.

Sandpaper

Changing the sandpaper takes more time since the paper has to be around the drum. Drum sanders and belt sanders can handle multiple similar jobs. 

Power

The speed is in feet per minute, whilst the power is in amps. The standard power ranges from 8 to 11 amp motors. Powerful speed sanders work on the hardwood, using more energy to hold down the sander. You will not withstand its force. More speed means spinning faster, and different activities attract different sanding speeds.  The construction system seals the motor and bearings from contamination. 

Dust collection

Not all Belt sanders come with collection bags. Some have a vacuum system that is reliable and efficient. It remains up to you to choose one with a vacuum cleaner or collection bags. 

Sandpaper

The Belt sander uses a loop of sandpaper. Wide sanding belts work in almost all activities. Small and light models also use smaller loops. Aluminium oxide belts are durable and sharper, but they attract a higher cost (Sandpaper.com). 

Features of an orbital sander

Abrasive pad

An orbital sander moves its abrasive pad in tiny circles so that the sander moves in every direction. Compared to a belt sander, it is weak but less dangerous. The chances are low that you will damage your floors. Unlike aggressive belt sanders, orbital sanders are gentle. They remove thin layers of material for a smooth surface.

Sandpaper

Sandpaper is attached to a plate, and as you move the machine, the plate moves in a circular motion. Standard orbital sanders are hand-held devices with a square sanding surface that take a quarter sheet of regular sandpaper. Walk-behind models are for floors.

Orbital sanders are best for floors that require light to medium sanding. If you need to prep a surface floor for a new top coat, you might use an orbital sander. They work better when removing light surface stains, but if you are looking forward to removing finishes, try the belt sander. 

Handheld orbital sanders are smooth on countertops and strip paint from furniture. It is for fine sanding work, rounding edges, and finishing touches. Its flexibility lies in shapes and sand curves,  corners, and edges. It is not for large pieces of wood. 

Wood-sanding-with-a-random-orbital-sander

Speed and power

The power is in amps and speed in orbits per minute. The higher the number is powerful, the more power means more speed. Use more speed for large surface areas. It is for models that work at different speeds. The Orbit sander remains a less aggressive tool. The dust-sealed switch lasts longer, and the locking dust bag that can operate using one hand is convenient.

Dust collection

An orbital sander makes use of a standard collection bag. Dust is collected as produced. Go for a model with a vacuum, as it works better. Filters and sealed switches make a better tool. Better features on dust collection make the sanding tool durable.

Sandpaper

It uses sanding discs as an abrasive. It works in circular motions, and a bigger sanding pad covers a large surface area. The standard size is the ¼ sheet sander. 

Difference between a belt sander and orbital

  • An Orbital sander uses sanding discs that move in circular motions, whereas the Belt sander uses a continuous loop of sandpaper.
  • The continuous loop sand belt rotates between two rotating drums, whereas the rectangular head of the Orbital sander moves in an orbital movement to get rid of the material. 
  • A Belt sander is limited to flat surfaces, whilst an Orbital sander is more versatile as it works on different angles.
  • A Belt sander is more powerful and works on larger surfaces, whereas an Orbital Sander works on smaller surfaces. It can fit into tight floor surfaces.
  • A belt sander is there to remove a large amount of material, whereas the Orbital sander works on finishing off a surface area, giving it a smooth finish.  

What belt sanders do to floors

A belt sander makes stripping and sanding the floor quick and easy. Belt sanders using rotating sandpaper. A belt sander for finishing a wood floor should be hand-held for easy movement around the floor surface.

How does a belt floor sander work

Belt sanders use abrasive belts to move vertically for stripping and finishing. Belt sanders can efficiently remove old varnish, paint and stain from wood floors. Belt sanders come in different sizes to fit your needs. You can use a belt sander for both concrete and wood floors.

What orbital sanders do to floors

Orbital sanders are suitable for all types of wooden floors. They do not damage the floor as a belt sander can. Random orbital sanders use circular motions to remove thin layers of material and leave a smooth surface. Orbital sanders are great for finishing floors because they remove very little material. This gives you the smoothest finish possible. The random orbital sander is perfect for wood floors.

How does an orbital floor sander work

An orbital sander uses an oscillating motion to remove material from the floor surface. The orbital floor sander works in a random pattern that leaves a swirl-free surface. You can use orbital sanders on all types of wood floors. Orbital sanders are easy to use and require little training. It removes all the lines made while sanding with the drum sander.

Is a belt sander better than an orbital sander for floors?

Belt sanders are powerful and can remove old paint quickly. They are also more aggressive and can damage floors if not used properly. Belt sanders are better for larger areas. Orbital sanders are great for all types of wood floors. They do not damage the floor like a belt sander. Random orbital sanders use circular motions to remove thin layers of material and leave a smooth surface. Orbital sanders are suitable for finishing floors because they remove very little material. This gives you the smoothest finish possible. The random orbital sander is perfect for wood floors. Belt sanders are powerful and can remove old paint quickly. They are also more aggressive and can damage the floor if not used properly. Belt sanders are better for larger areas, while random orbital sanders are perfect for finishing floors.

Orbital sander VS belt sander for hardwood floors

For hardwood floors, an orbital sander is the best choice. Belt sanders are more aggressive and can damage the floor if not used properly. Orbital sanders use circular motions to remove thin layers of material and leave a smooth surface. Random orbital sanders are also easy to use and require very little training. The random orbital sander is perfect for hardwood.

When to use belt sander VS orbital sander

You should use a belt sander instead of an orbital sander when you want to strip off paint or varnish quickly. Belt sanders are also better for larger surfaces. Orbital sanders are perfect for finishing the floors, as they remove little material. It would help if you used an orbital sander when you want to get a smooth finish on your hardwood floors. Belt sanders can be more aggressive and damage the floor if not used correctly. Belt sanders are better for larger surfaces and when you want to strip off paint or varnish quickly. Orbital sanders are perfect for finishing the floors, removing little material, and leaving a smooth surface.

David D. Hughes
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