The old days: resurfacing wood floors without dust containment systems

I was only 8 years old on one random, sunny Saturday morning when my father woke me up and invited me to tag along for the day to meet up with his crew. At the time I had a very vague understanding of exactly what it was my father did for work as a foreman for a professional hardwood floor resurfacing company.

We left Providence, RI at around 6:40am hopped on I95 and drove 35 minutes north to nearby Westwood, MA. We got off the exit, loaded up on coffee and treats and headed out to the job site which was a gorgeous new white cape in its final phases of construction. My father was meeting two of his workers who were already sanding away, awaiting our arrival. I merrily jumped off the truck and ran inside to begin exploring. Before I had my chance my father handed me my first dust mask and demanded I put it on before entering the home.

This is when I was introduced to the dust nightmare associated with wood floor sanding.

One of father’s employee was screening the raw wood floor with a sanding screen subsequently releasing clouds and clouds of dust into the air. While my father spoke with the other employee I stuck around and observed what the man with the buffer was doing. I watched for about 8-10 minutes before I became bored and decided to explore the rest of the home. It wasn’t until I stumbled into a bathroom with a mirror that I noticed the amount of dust that had me completely covered from head to toe. My medium black wavy hair was covered entirely with a thin coat of dust. When I leaned in closer to the mirror I realized eyebrows and even my eyelashes had tiny dust particles hanging off each end! My arm was covered, my jeans, my boots everything was covered in dust. The only part of my body that had not accumulated dust was my face only because my dust mask had covered it.

For almost 15 years following I worked side by side with my father resurfacing hardwood floors throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts. It wasn’t until 2004 that we adopted our first dust containment system which replaced the traditional way of sanding with bags attached to the machines. We equipped all of our orbital sanding equipment to high powered vacuums that collected dust in containers. No longer did we have to wear masks, seal doorways and deal with the nightmare associated with traditional sanding methods. The days of coming home covered in dust were finally over.


In memory of my uncle who worked 33 years as a wood floor sander who came home covered in dust day after day.

Federico Mazul