Are you currently refinishing your deck and want it to look its absolute best?
A high-quality flooring sander is critical to the overall appearance of your deck and will make it look and feel more professional, rather than like your home improvement project is the aftermath of an unskilled homeowner.
Finding a deck sander that best fits your needs can be difficult on a competitive marketplace full of options. That’s why we’ve selected the top belt sanders for you. Once you invest in one of these, you’ll be happy to see the high-quality results on your finished project.
What is a Sander?
Before going into detail about different types of sanders, it would be helpful to know what a sander is. Well, a sander is simply a device that smoothens the surface of the object using sandpaper of grits varying from 10 to 30 or more depending on the nature of the surface.
The process is very convenient when there are many surfaces to smoothen, many nooks and corners to reach or when you don’t want to do it manually.
Different Types of Sanders for Deck Refinishing
Now, different types of sanders are classified based on the mechanism they use to smoothen or remove
A belt sander is a power tool used to remove material from surfaces. The belt, driven by a motor, rotates an abrasive surface across a workpiece.
Belt sanders utilize a flat, rectangular loop of sandpaper called a belt which is pulled along the tool’s contact points with the workpiece.
They can have either a disc on one side of the belt or a flap below the belt which is sometimes called a “scroll”. The disc and flap are interchangeable.
Disc sanders are power tools that use a small rotating sanding disc to smooth surfaces. Disc sanders can sand wood, metal and plastics. They are versatile tools that can be used for many purposes.
Types of Disc Sanders
There are two types of disc sanders: horizontal and vertical.
A horizontal disc sander looks like a drill press mounted sideways on its side. The head holds the sanding disk and also has a configuration of clamps that allows it to sand down and remove material from a wide variety of workpieces.
A vertical sander is also known as a spindle sander. It has a vertical head that is mounted on top of the table, and it holds the sanding disc in place with an arm that is lowered by the control levers. Vertical sanders are ideal for removing material from cylindrical workpieces.
A finishing sander is a type of power tool used to smooth surfaces, removing saw marks from sanding or creating a smooth surface ready for finishing.
These sanders will generally produce a finer finish than the original saw marks and therefore are to be used either before or after applying a surface coating.
Many different types of finishing sanders exist, with main classifications being Pad – a handheld tool that holds the abrasive – and Orbital – a handheld tool that turns around an axis.
Random Orbital Sander
A random orbital sander is a power tool used in the shaping and finishing of wood. The machine uses either an adhesive or hook-and-loop tape to attach sandpaper or abrasive material in discs or sheets which are often called “sandpaper”. Sanders may be used to remove material, apply a decorative finish, or reach the desired shape.
The orbit of the sander is random and does not follow a circular path. A random orbital sander is one of the most used power sanders because it does not create swirl marks which can be seen in the finishing of a wood product.
The deck sanding pattern created by a random orbit sander is very similar to that of a drill press, generally referred to as a “spindle sander”, but the random orbit sander does not have a flat bottom platen that contacts the workpiece.
Benefits Of A Belt Sander
Sanding wood decks with a belt sander is a great option to prepare for deck staining or painting. Because these areas are completely flat surfaces that don’t have too many corners, sharp edges or narrow spaces, a belt sander with a wide belt is the best tool to cover the surface easily and efficiently.
Belt sanders are bigger than small or compact sanders, so they are perfect for large areas such as decks. They are also reasonably easy to manage and control if used properly and if you are working with a quality tool.
They can also run for long periods of time without having to charge or rest, which is not always the case with smaller models.
Deck Sander Comparison Table
We’ve reviewed the available sanders for decks available, to help you find the right one. We go over each one in detail below, but for those in a hurry here is a quick feature comparison:
Because sanding is such an important step in deck refinishing, it’s critical to find a quality belt sander that’s efficient, durable, and long-lasting. Some are better for deck sanding specifically more than others, and if you don’t know what you’re looking for, it can be easy to buy the wrong one.
Top 9 Sander for Deck Refinishing
Here are our top picks for quality sanders for decks that you can trust to enhance the look of your project and make your renovation process go smoother.
To help you choose the right tool for your specific needs, we’ve reviewed the four top sanders for decks available.
This sander is standard in the industry and a reliable choice that will get the job done. It has a 4-inch wide belt and a speed of 1,640 feet per minute.
It’s built with a large front grip, so beginners aren’t struggling to keep it upright while using it. At a reasonable 13 pounds, this sander is not too heavy and easier to hold than bigger models.
It also has a large dust bag that has a 360-degree rotation designed to minimize particles blocking your sight while using the sander.
Its electric cord is located on the top of the machine, which is a huge convenience – nothing is worse than using electric technology with one hand and having to hold a cord in the other.
The Makita manufacturers ensure that this product’s cord is out of the way so that you can sand easily.
If noise is uncomfortable to you, this sander is the quietest of its kind. Although this sander is guaranteed to hold up for multiple uses, it also comes with a 1-year warranty. This sander is your best option as it offers all the important components at a decent rate.
Makita 9403 Pros
- Solid Grip
- Standard features
- Wide belt
Makita 9403 Cons
- Less powerful than some other options on the market
- Quietest belt sander in its class: only 84 decibals
- 4-inch-wide belt with a speed of 1,640 feet per minute for fast material removal
- Industrial Grade Construction.
- Fits all 4" x 24" Belt Sander (Uni-directional)
2. Bosch OS50VC 120-Volt 3.4-Amp Variable Speed 1/2-Sheet Orbital Finishing Sander with Vibration Control
This is a heavy-duty, powerful sander that’s geared towards experienced users. Its 3.4 amp sander allows for a stronger sanding rate and maximum speed. Its enormous ½ sheet sanding pad is ideal for decks, allowing the user to cover a lot of surface area in a short period of time.
It’s strong but sturdy and automatically in control, with the ability to control its vibrations and move steadily. Its built-in suspension system exclusive to Bosch models makes this model easy to control and handle.
The Bosch OS50VC also comes with a Sheetloc clamping system that keeps the sandpaper perfectly in place. If you’re uncomfortable by its high speed, there is a speed dial that controls its strong movement and can accommodate any type of wood.
Although it doesn’t come with a dustbag, it has a built-in dust canister that collects particles efficiently and is easy to remove and empty when necessary. It’s a little pricier than the standard Makita 9304, but it’s one of the most efficient and trustworthy options available.
Bosch OS50VC Pros
- Extremely powerful
- ½ Sheet
- Low vibration
Bosch OS50VC Cons
- Pricier than other options
- VERSATILE: Flush sanding ability sands close to vertical surfaces on 3 sides
- ACCURACY: SheetLoc Supreme Paper Clamping System for perfect paper fit. Also accepts stick on paper
- CONVENIENCE: Lowest vibration of any electric orbital sander.Orbit Diameter:3/32 inch
- DUST COLLECTION: Translucent micro filter dust canister with integrated paper filter and screw-off cap for easiest emptying
- KIT CONTENTS: Includes OS50VC sander, micro filter dust canister, removable front handle, VAC024 vacuum hose adapter, 5 mm hex wrench, sanding sheet and punch plate
This is the most affordable model on the list that includes the minimum features necessary for a decent sanding job. It has a variable speed dial just like the Bosch model and an elastomer grip handle similar to the Makita 9403 to make it easy to hold and use.
Its small build makes it easy to control, transport, and use freely. It comes packaged with a large dust collection bag that’s easy to slip on and off.
Besides its portable size, price, and standard features, this model’s biggest pro is its wear-resistant V-belt that is guaranteed to hold up for twice the service life of this sander.
At its base, it doesn’t come with a sanding belt, but it can be purchased with the belt as a combo deal for an incredibly low price that’s still more affordable than the other options.
Hitachi SB8V2 Pros
- Well-rounded, standard features
- Most affordable
Hitachi SB8V2 Cons
- Smaller sheet
- Sander belt not included
- Hitachi Power Tools has renamed to Metabo HPT. Same great tools, with only a new name.
- Variable speed dial adjusts speed from 820 1,475 feet/min for improved manageability during any operation
- Soft elastomer grip surface on the main and auxiliary handles for a comfortable and secure hold
- Tracking window improves visibility of sanding surface and sanding belt during use and belt size is 76 x 533millimeter(3 x 21 inches)
- Left side mounted dust collection bag improves corner sanding applications, while reducing airborne particles to keep work area clean
The Makita 9903 Belt Sander is the little cousin of their 9403 above and is a good choice for your smaller jobs. This one has a 3-inch wide belt and a variable speed control dial (690-1,440 ft./min.) that enables the user to match the speed to the application.
It also features that large front grip, so beginners aren’t struggling to keep it upright while using it. An at just 9.5 pounds it’s a light sander that’s easy to handle.
The 9903 features a powerful 8.8 AMP motor with electronic speed control to maintain constant speed under load. At only 84dB, it is one of the quietest sanders in its class. Soitcombines power and speed with ease-of-use features and less noise for fast and efficient stock removal.
Ease-of-use features include an auto-tracking belt system that tracks the belt without adjustment, and a front grip for comfortable operation. The low profile design provides better balance, and the extended base allows sanding flush to wall with nose and side of sander.
The Makita 9903 is easily maneuvered with the long 16.4-foot power cord, and the highly efficient dust collector reduces dust in the work area. An optional sanding shoe is available for precise sanding depth control.
The Makita 9903 is engineered for cabinetry and woodworking, and is ideal for wood panels, furniture, closets, and more. The 9903 is just another example of Makita’s commitment to innovative technology and best-in-class engineering.
Makita 9903 Belt Sander Pros
- Auto-tracking belt system tracks belt without adjustment
- Innovative design for sanding flush to wall with nose and side of sander
- Front grip design for comfortable operation
- Dust bag for a cleaner work environment
- Long 16.4 ft. power cord for easier maneuverability
Makita 9903 Belt Sander Cons
- Underpowered and easy to bog it down
- Some reveiewers have reported on receiving obviously used ones sold as new
- Powerful 8.8 AMP motor; only 85dB
- Variable speed control dial (690 -1,440 ft./min.) to match the speed to the application
- Auto-tracking belt system tracks belt without adjustment
- Innovative design for sanding flush to wall with nose and side of sander
- Front grip design for comfortable operation
The Dewalt random orbital sander is an electrical machine that can sand, shape and polish material. This tool uses a round rotating pad to help with the above-mentioned tasks.
The deck sanding tool has an attached sandpaper pad that can be changed when it becomes worn or finished with the task at hand. This tool uses a random orbital motion to help lessen the stress put on the person using it. This device is used for sanding wood, paint and other surfaces.
This deck sander comes equipped with a variable speed trigger that allows the user to control how fast or slow they want this machine to run while it’s in use. This ergonomic handle is designed to give the user more control over their sanding tool.
One of the best random orbital sanders with improved dust collecting port that can be used when needed in any wood deck refinishing project. It helps keep the surrounding deck surface area clean.
Dewal Orbital Sander Pros
- Has an improved dust collection system
- The hand sander has a shorter weight to help you get closer to the workpiece
- Easy to use
- Affordable deck sander
Dewal Orbital Sander Cons
- Some users complained that the off and on switch was quite quirky.
- 3.0-amp motor of the orbital sander spins the pad at 12,000 OPM
- Shorter height of the hand sander allows the user to get closer to work piece
- Separate counterweight design reduces vibration for improved comfort of the electric sander
- Rubber over-mold in all of the critical areas of the sander
- Improved dust-sealed switch to protect against dust ingestion for longer switch life
SKIL 7510-01 Sandcat 6 Amp 3″ x 18″ is a belt sander that allows the user to control pressure on the surface being sanded by way of an adjustable handle that controls the amount of pressure applied.
It has a spindle lock that allows easy changing of sanding belts, a dust-sealed switch to protect against dust ingestion, and rubber over-mold on the housing which serves as a cushion for improved comfort.
The SKIL 7510-01 has six amps of power which allows for efficient sanding, and the 3 x 18-inch belts allow for wide surface area coverage.
The belt tension and tracking are conveniently controlled by a knob on the top of the tool which can be operated with one hand, allowing the other to stabilize the machine during usage.
It comes equipped with many safety features including a dust-sealed switch and rubber over-mold housing to decrease the risk of injury from debris ingestion and dropping while in use.
A spindle lock allows for easy replacement of sanding belts so one does not have to waste time trying to change or fix the belt mid-usage.
- The pressure Control system is nice, and the variable speed allows the user to adjust for different types of material to be sanded.
- The belt changing system is easy to use
- Has a dust collection port that can be hooked up to a shop vac.
- The weight is fairly heavy which makes it difficult for small/inexperienced users to use for extended periods of time.
- Pressure control technology monitors sanding pad pressure applied for optimal finish
- 6.0 A of power sands any type of wood surface
- Micro-filtration – captures and contains fine dust particles
- Auto track belt alignment keeps belt centered
- Vacuum compatible – fits standard 1-1/4 In. vacuum hoses.Flush edge sanding sands right up to the edge for maximum capacity
A handheld electric sander, the BLACK+DECKER Random Orbit Sander features an attached dust bag that collects debris as it works. This prevents dust particles from floating through the air and spreading over a large area.
This random orbital sander is quiet enough to use in any location without worrying about disturbing anyone else nearby.
It has a flush sanding design that works on edges as well as flat surfaces. This gives it an advantage over other types of sanders, which don’t work on the edges of objects and sometimes dig into them instead of providing a smooth finish. With 120 volts of power, this device is suitable for both light and heavy jobs.
The BLACK+DECKER random orbital sander has an on/off switch on its front so that users can quickly and easily turn it on and off whenever they need to. It also has a small dust bag for catching debris, which means users don’t have to worry about their projects getting dusty while they work.
- Can be used on both light and heavy deck refinishing jobs
- Easy to use
- Can work on edges of objects
- Quiet random orbital sander
- The power button isn’t efficient after regular use
- HIGH PERFORMANCE ORBIT SANDER - 2.0 Amp corded electric random orbit sander for a swirl-free finish
- HIGH EFFICIENCY - Delivers 12000 OPM (orbits per minute) to quickly sand material
- LIGHTWEIGHT AND COMPACT - Fits in tight spaces for more versatile sanding
- DUST COLLECTION SYSTEM - Keep your workspace free of dust and debris with a built-in dust collection bag
- COMFORT GRIP HANDLE - Work comfortably and with less fatigue thanks to the comfort grip handle
The Craftsman 3-Inch x 21-Inch belt sander is one of the best belt sanders on the market today. This powerful beast can handle all your construction, renovation and scrap removal needs thanks to its great variable speed motor.
The machine also has a gear reduction system for greater load handling capabilities as well as an adjustable belt tracking system for eliminating snipes. A simple tension release mechanism makes it easy to change the sanding belt.
The great variable speed motor is also equipped with a simple gear reduction system making the machine suitable for load handling even on difficult project work.
A sturdy cast metal gear housing ensures that this tool will be able to stand up to heavy use, while the operator assist handle increases control and safety.
The easy tension release mechanism makes changing sanding belts very easy. Post style motor design will accommodate multiple table mounting surfaces for increased versatility.
CRAFTSMAN Belt Sander Pros
- Comfortable to use thanks to the three-position over moulded handle
- Durable deck sander
- Light in weight
CRAFTSMAN Belt Sander Cons
- You need some practice to master how to use it
- 7.0 amp 3in. X 21in. Belt sander with an angled belt Design to sand closer to adjoining surfaces
- Max 800 FPM For fast material removal
- Tool-free belt release for quick and easy belt changes
- High performance dust collection featuring onboard dust bag
- 3position over molded handle improves comfort during use
Here is yet another heavy-duty belt sander. It comes with a number of standard features like an aluminum die-cast body material, an adjustable dust exhaust, and an ergonomic design for ease of use.
The ergonomic handle and design of this belt sander make it easy to grip and control, regardless of the user’s hand size.
The aluminum die-cast body material makes it durable and lightweight at the same time. This also makes it portable and easy to carry around when you need to move it from one place to another.
The large rubber feet of this belt sander ensure that the machine doesn’t slip off the surface while being used.
With the variable speed control dial, you can increase or decrease the speed of the belt sander as per your requirement. The variable speed control dial also allows for better and smoother handling and operation of the machine.
The belt tracking knob and dust bag make it easier to keep the machine clean and efficient at all times; this means you can use it for a long time without worrying about any operational issues.
RIDGID ZRR2740 6.5 Amp 3-in X 18-in Pros
- Has a two-fan dust collection system
- It has an automatic belt tracking system
- Soft and comfortable grip handles
RIDGID ZRR2740 6.5 Amp 3-in X 18-in Cons
- The sanding belt doesn’t last long
- Twin fan high efficiency dust collection means one fan cools the motor while the other collects dust resulting in maximum dust pickup efficiency
- Soft grip handles for increased comfort and decreased vibration
- 12-ft all rubber cord with cord wrap for added durability and convenience
- Automatic belt tracking tool automatically adjusts belt to center of plate for alignment
- 6.5 Amp motor belt and gear driven for added power and durability
Which sander should I use for deck restoration?
The best sander for deck refinishing is a belt sander. It gives contact with additional sandpaper. It takes longer to grind the entire surface of the vessel than an orbit sander.
The beauty of a belt sander is that it’s relatively easy to learn to operate properly.
The best tool for deck finish is for cleaning sandpaper more effectively. It helps remove material from the deck and ensures a smooth surface of the deck without any remaining marks on it.
What should I look for in a sander for decking?
Many people rebuild or replace their decks every decade or so. If you want to be able to quickly and easily restore the deck, you will need a good sander.
There are many types of sanders for deck refinishing in the market and it can be difficult to choose which one is right for your deck. Here is what you need to look for in belt sanders.
Lighter is always better, particularly if you’re doing this particular job yourself. If it’s too heavy, you won’t want to use it and it will take even longer than it would if you had just used something lighter.
Check to see if it has a warranty. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, and you never know what can happen on the job. If anything breaks or stops working properly, at least you’ll be able to get it fixed for free.
Look at how long the battery lasts before needing a recharge. You don’t want to have to stop working because your sander runs out of batteries. If you have a corded option, that’s not really an issue since you’ll just plug it in and keep going.
Although they all have different features with varying positives and disadvantages, these four models are well regarded by professionals as high-quality sanders that are guaranteed to transform your deck with quality.
No matter which model you decide to choose, sanding a deck will prove to be an efficient process and rewarding investment.
All around, the Makita 9403 is a great product, but it’s also a tough choice considering that it can’t beat the Bosch’s power or the Hitachi’s price.
However, out of these four, the overall best choice for an average deck refinishing is the Makita. It boasts the most well-rounded features and at quality performance.
It has the durability, guaranteed longevity, and power needed for any project, all at an average price that shouldn’t empty anybody’s wallet.
It doesn’t hurt that this sander is quiet and has a cord that’s attached from the top so it’s not in the way while sanding.
Sanders For Decks FAQs
Will sanding a deck really make that much of a difference with the finished product?
The short answer is yes. Sanders smooth out harsh surfaces like wood through its sandpaper belt and a process called abrasion. The sander’s bottom is applied over wood that’s had significant damage or wear, stripping it of its upmost layer with a new coat.
A sander is applied before the refreshment phase, and it will completely enhance the smoothness of your porch.
If you forego sanding the deck, you’re basically choosing to renovate using tired wood, which will never look as good as a polished deck.
A nicely finished outdoor deck can add enjoyment to the homeowner, and increase the value of your real estate at the same time.
What other types of sanders are there?
Although belt sanders are the best option for wooden decks, there are other types of sanders you could use to sand your deck, hardwood floors, as well as other surfaces. These can be used in conjunction with the belt sander for a truly phenomenal end product.
Random Orbital Sanders, for instance, are handy tools. Unlike the belt sander that uses rolling paper to sand a surface, the orbital floor sander uses rotating discs, which not only rotates but also vibrates heavily.
This gives a surface a heavy coating without grinding into the wood. These disc sanders are known for giving the entire deck surface the smoothest look possible, as they leave no marks or patterns on a surface. They can also be used for large or small tasks, depending on what your project requires.
You can also look into big sheet sanders, which are small lightweight tools that are good for smaller areas with edges such as stairs.
They also won’t wear your arm out quickly because of their small size like palm sanders might. However, for working on a large deck, a belt sander or orbital sander is recommended to help you cover the entire area quicker and more efficiently with the machine power needed.
Can I sand my deck by hand?
You can use a regular hand power sander to sand your deck. However, this is not so easy so you need a lot of patience when doing it. If have a large deck, it might take a few days to complete your work.
Other Deck Equipment
In addition to sanding, other tools are useful for keeping outdoor decks looking their best. Pressure washing your deck is a great way to remove dirt and debris.
Power washing is also useful for removing material left between deck boards, and won’t harm cedar decks, pressure treated decks or composite deck materials. For painted decks be sure not to turn up the pressure too high, or it can actually lift off the paint.
Deck Sanding Video
If you have never sanded the outdoor wood of a deck before, here is a good YouTube video demonstrating the process:
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