I definately prefer the drum sanders for the majority of the floor sanding, then the special corner and flush sander for up close where the drum will not get.
I am very careful about grit of sandpaper I use. sounds like you were using heavy grit or coarse paper.
I use coarse on my very first pass and not very long on one place, then I shift to medium which is very forgiving and easier to use. Then I move to fine, then I use steel wool.
There is a specially designed schematic on how to sand floors properly. I suggest that you check it out.
Ps, after I make my last fine sandpaper course, I will then lightly wet mop the floor. This will clean up the dust and cause the wood to swell and allow you to make more fine passes.
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