Which Sander Is Best For Decking?

Wooden decks are pretty typical in homes and are constructed with highly long-lasting treated woods. Whether you’ve had a deck built or intend to install one soon, one common denominator that most carpentry projects have is a sander to help get the job done quickly and efficiently.

All power sanders execute the same significant job — they use abrasive materials to remove undesirable matter and provide a smooth finish for staining and sealing. A high-quality sander is essential for the general impression of your wooden deck. It will make it appear and feel more professional, too.

When starting a deck refinishing project, most homeowners wonder what type of sandpaper grits to use or if they have to sand the entire deck before staining it. We’ll cover both of these things and more to supply you with the best information which you can use to keep your wooden deck looking brand new for years to come.

Our Top Deck Sander Picks for 2024

Does Your Deck Require Sanding?

When embarking on a wooden deck refinishing project, you are prone to do a little sanding. This is particularly the situation if it’s been so long since you resealed or treated your deck wood under any circumstances.

On some occasions, you may be fortunate that some of your deck boards are in a good state. This reduces the length of sanding time you’ll consume on your deck.

More measures that you must consider for the refinishing process include inspecting any damaged deck boards and conducting the required fixings if the deterioration is present. It’s undoubtedly advised not to perform deck refinishing with busted or loose boards. You are only creating more assignments for yourself since you still have to repair these wooden boards anyway.

Choosing The Best Sanders To Sand Your Deck

If you are prepping your decking boards to be refinished or painted, you will need a sander. You can sand the deck by hand, however, this can take longer and be much more tedious.

Choosing a power sander with the features you need to provide a quick and convenient job is much more efficient. Since deck sanders have various types and various characteristics, there is an overwhelming selection available nowadays. This is why we’ve listed the various types of sanders for decks that you’ll find most useful for your refinishing project:

Belt Sanders

The belt sander is the most classic, and perhaps the most typical, of all power sanding apparatuses. The belt sander utilizes a continuous circle of abrasive material to cut out a considerable amount of materials from your deck. It generally has a motor, sanding belt, handles, and an attachment for dust collection. It’s the perfect device to have, specifically if the deck is a considerable size. These sanders are also easy to operate and control.

Sanding wood decks with a belt sander is an excellent choice to prepare it for painting or staining. Homeowners will love belt sanders since they’re easy to use on flat surfaces, straight lines, and for accessing sides and corners.

A person using a sander on wood.

Floor Drum Sanders

You can work with floor sanders for finishing but it will not be as efficient as a belt sander. A flooring drum sander takes out too much material too fast to use safely on a deck. You have less control and cannot use the pressure steadily or productively like a belt sander. When you do lose control, it can hollow out the deck and damage it. The primary benefit of a floor sander is faster material removal rate because it covers a more extensive scope and has an industrial-strength motor. You can sand your deck with a floor sander, but you’ll need to be extra careful, remain steady, and go slowly. Just note that it is much more suitable to use if you want to sand hardwood floors.

Orbital Sanders

An orbital sander is another excellent alternative when sanding decks. They operate differently from belt sanders because they can actually rotate. The edge of the orbital sander is more user-friendly, leaving far fewer noticeable swirl marks and yielding a smoother finish on the wood’s surface. The drawback is they cover less floor surface so you’ll need more time to finish the task.

When using it to sand and finish a wood deck, it’s recommended to undergo phases of working with several sanding sheets, ranging from 36-80-grit.

Random Orbital Sanders

Random orbital sanders are recognized for their round shape and the random oscillating motion to take out wood. A random orbit sander is created with circular sanding pads. It’s the most efficient sander when refinishing a deck because they’re straightforward and viable.

A random orbital sander has much to contribute. With this sander, you’ll notice much fewer mechanical patterns on your deck surface than other types and more material removal than orbit sanders, but less than belt sanders. However, they are pricier than their orbital counterparts and they are below par for sanding edges and corners.

Disc Sanders

Disc sanders are power tools that use a small rotating sanding disc to smooth wooden surfaces. However, they typically don’t work if grime is present on the surface.

The main trouble with this type of sander is the speed at which you can cause a dent in the wood if misused. If you are a novice, you’ll need to practice wielding a disc sander or refrain from this sander downright. A good board can quickly be wrecked if you lose control of this deck sander.

Sheet Sanders

The sheet sander is mainly developed for light to moderate sanding jobs, especially sanding flat wooden surface areas. These jobs include smoothing curved surfaces that are hard to file with heavier, more potent sanding tools, final buffing of the wood surface, and sanding between coats of finish.

Furthermore, the sheet sander is also known as a quarter sheet pad sander or palm sander. This name is based on the sandpaper used in this instrument, a quarter of the 9×11 sheet. A remarkable feature concerning this sander is that it can sand the deck wood in any direction because of the tiny orbital vibrations that the sander’s pad offers.

Detail Sanders

The detail sander is another option you might choose to use for more complex deck spaces like railings, corners, or any hard-to-reach areas. They have a triangular sanding surface designed to access small edges and tight corners.

Detail sanders are pretty small to sand the entire deck with but they are compatible for sanding small spaces that a floor or belt sander cannot reach. They are similar to file sanders that are ideal for sanding narrow areas. The outcome is a clean wooden surface that can be safeguarded.

How To Choose The Best Sanders For Deck Refinishing

Determining the best sanders for deck refinishing can be an obstacle if you aren’t sure what you’re looking for. So, we’ve compiled some suggestions you should consider when buying the best sander to suit your needs:

Dust Collection

Dust particles are a valid concern when sanding lumber. The sanding process produces tons of dust; this makes a dust collection feature a vital aspect when purchasing a sander. Many electric sanders have built-in dust-catching bags. Some are well-suited with shop vacs or external dust collection systems. This feature makes the clean-up process considerably faster as there is less sawdust on the ground and you can get rid of the sawdust straight into the bin.

Material For Deck Sanders

The material of deck sanders impacts the rate of it. High-quality material leads to sturdiness and a job well done. Plus, your new tool will last you for many years to come. For this reason, you’ll want to examine the materials of the deck sanders as well as where it was made. While you may be spending more money for a higher quality tool, it’s well worth the investment since you won’t need to replace it anytime soon.
A man using a sander on a piece of wood.


This factor is crucial since it impacts the control of the sander and the ease of use. Generally, sanders weigh between 0.9-3.5 kg. The sander must be heavy enough to thrust durably against the deck yet light enough to push around effortlessly. Visit your local hardware shop and test out different ones to get a better idea of the weight.


The speed of the sander should also be taken into consideration before purchasing. It’s normal to want turbo sanders if you are a novice to sanding, however, this can negatively impact the outcome. Different areas of your deck require a different sanding speed. For example, while sanding the railing, you will need a slower pace. Experts also recommend opting for a sander with variable speed control to correspond to different woods.

Noise Level

Generally, many sanders and other power tools can be very loud. The extreme and redundant noise can be hard on your hearing (and the neighbours’). Ensure you test the noise level of the sander you’re considering buying and pick one with a minimal amount of volume, or, buy hearing protection to wear while using it.

Power Options

Many sanders come in corded options. Handling cords and extension cables can sometimes be annoying so it may be worth thinking of a battery-powered device if you don’t have an outlet handy. Handiness is often key to getting the project done quickly and efficiently.


Buying the right sander doesn’t suggest spending a considerable amount of money. You can have high quality at a relatively affordable price, specifically if deck sanding is what you’re planning to do. A first-rate orbital sander will cost you more than $50, on the other hand, a random orbital sander can range between $35 and $300. For a belt sander, you can expect an average cost of roughly $150 with cut-rate units costing less and premium units costing more.

Just remember that the higher the sander costs, this doesn’t suggest excellent value in return.

This cordless orbital sander has a 125mm brush, making it a versatile tool for both wood grinding and car polishing. Its cordless design allows for easy maneuverability and eliminates the hassle of dealing with tangled cords. It’s a great choice for sanding a deck due to its ability to deliver a smooth, even finish.

This long-reach sander is powered by a 750W motor, providing ample power for sanding tasks. It’s designed to reach those hard-to-reach areas on your deck, ensuring a comprehensive and even sanding process. Its long reach capability makes it an excellent choice for large decks or decks with intricate designs.

The SKIL belt sander is another top-of-the-line sander and it offers a great return on investment. This deck sander is made to deliver excellent performance and is supplemented with a 3×18-inch sanding belt. The wide belt component makes this belt sander among the finest for a wood deck. Additionally, the belt sander is created with a powerful 6-amp motor. Your hands won’t be strained due to the pressure-control feedback mechanism.

Best Sanders For Deck Restoration

Most wood used to construct decks is soft timber. These woods are firmer to hold sanding patterns and can withstand being scraped. As a result, it would be favourable to work with an orbital deck sander. The benefit of utilizing this type of sander for deck refinishing is that it leaves much fewer marks on the surface. In addition, these sanders for deck refinishing are easier to control.

Another choice is random orbital sanders, however, there is an issue with using these kinds of sanders. You’ll consume a lot of time to sand the whole surface of the deck. Because of that, carpenters often opt for using a belt sander for deck refinishing instead of a random orbit sander.

The best sander for a deck is a belt sander. This machine gives better sandpaper contact. A little bit of this specific contact helps take out materials and guarantees a smooth surface. The strong point of a belt sander is it’s pretty easy to learn how to maneuver accordingly.

What Sandpaper Should You Use?

There are many sandpapers on the market, though some are more efficient for deck sanding jobs. Shop for sandpaper that is intended to polish wood. Finer sanding paper will take too long whereas coarser sanding paper could damage the wood. There are also a large number of grits available to use. You will want to sand the deck using 60-80 grit paper on the first pass. This will remove material rapidly and let you remove uneven areas, producing a level surface. You can then make a second pass using 80-100 sandpaper grit. That will flatten rough areas and leave a smooth surface to work with. Use the same grits to sand railings, posts, and stairs.

How To Sand A Deck For Refinishing

There are many methods to sand a deck for refinishing, though what you need is the best in outcomes. The great news is that there are practices to sand the deck without using much effort and time if you work with the correct tools and method. The first thing to do is plan your sanding and refinishing for days when there will be no rain.

Inspect and Repair the Surfaces

Begin by thoroughly examining all the surfaces you intend to sand whether your deck is old or new. Double-check if the decking screws and bolts are positioned correctly as wood shrinks as it loses moisture and can leave raised nail heads or screws. Fix or replace damaged boards if broken, deformed, split, rusted, or dented.

If there are deep grooves or splinters in the deck board, make a point to repair or fill them with wood fillers.

Clean The Deck

It will help if you consider cleaning the wood deck surface with a power washer before beginning sanding. This is usually carried out every year to help remove accumulated dirt and small staining spots since you last power washed it.

Another benefit of using a power washer on a deck is that water is propelled into the wood, causing the wood grain to swell. Sanding after power washing enables you to remove this lifted grain which reverts the board to a smoother quality.

You must instantly stop if you see any wood fibres inflating and lifting away while washing the surface. These fibres may cause splinters once dried so you must also adjust the power to provide accurate pressure and avoid damaging the wood.

A woman sanding a piece of wood.

Dry Your Deck Before Sanding

After washing the deck, you’ll have to leave it to dry before you can sand it. It must also pass the water test – a few sprinkled droplets of water to check if the water beads absorb before proceeding with sanding. If it absorbs water, it will stain. New decks must wait for 30 or more days to condition. Washed decks in the hot sun will dry faster than shaded areas in cool weather.

Sand The Main Deck Boards

Now, place the sander on one side of the deck and work your way across. Move the sander backward and forward along the grain of the boards. Check for evenness of appearance as you go.

For main deck planks, use 60-80-grit sandpaper. The sanding is not to create the smoothest possible wood surface but to even it out. You don’t need a slippery deck so don’t use any fine-grit sandpaper. The 60-80-grit is coarse enough to eliminate the old gloss while levelling the surface.

Sand The Handrails

After finishing the deck, start sanding the handrails with 80-100-grit sandpaper since the railings should be smoother. Here, a detail sander or sanding by hand may be required to access all spaces, but again, remember not to push down too hard. Make sure you go slow when sanding the corners and gaps.

Once the sanding is done, sweep the surface with a broom and you’re ready to stain, paint, or seal.

Safety Considerations

Don’t forget to wear a dust mask and safety glasses while sanding because wood dust poses health hazards if you inhale it. Hearing protectors and knee pads are also recommended.

Final Note

These facts can help you pick the best deck sander to get the job done efficiently. Just factor in the kind of work and your material and integrate them with other facets to obtain a sander that fits your project best. No matter what approach you use, make sure you have all the vital information before deciding.

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