Staircase is the most used part of an establishment; even compared to the floor. It deals with heavy traffic on daily basis hence, needs to be take care of more than any part of the house. Sanding is the first process of refinishing a stair. You can’t skip this process if you want a home renovation or just redecorate it for the upcoming festivals. However, the end result after stair refinishing primarily depends on how good it is sanded.
A good quality sander is essential to make the process hassle free and successful. Here, I have picked the best five sanders you can use to sand your hardwood staircase. All are different from one another in terms of features, ease of use, price and functionality. Don’t forget to focus on the buying guide so that you can choose properly among those.
A Comparison List of Our Favorite Picks
Top 5 Sanders for Stairs Reviews
1. Bosch 3.4-Amp Variable Speed 1/2-Sheet Orbital Finishing Sander
- Sheet size:½ sheet, 4 ½” x 9″;
- Speed: 12,000 OPM;
- Motor: 3.4 amp;
- The package includes sander only;
- Model no: OS50VC;
- Weight: 6 pounds.
Bosch OS50VC finishing sander is one of those rare power tools that can be categorized as ‘flawless’. Because, from its power, grip, paper replacing and dust collecting everything has been made flawless. That makes this machine perfect for anyone, from new to pro.
To eliminate vibration, a vibration control mechanism is incorporated in this machine. The result is awesome; the vibration along with noise is almost non-existent. The attached dust collector itself is efficient enough to collect more than 98 percent of produced dust. When it is attached to a shop vac, the workpiece remains even cleaner!
Any kind of sandpaper can be used here, whether it is tension or adhesive. It gives you the freedom to experience almost every sandpaper available in the market. The price is obviously out of reach of this machine for personal use. For using it on a professional basis, the price is negligible.
- Accepts two different papers;
- Comes with vibration control;
- Highly effective dust collection.
2. SKIL 2.0 Amp 1/4 Sheet Palm Sander with Pressure Control
- Sheet size: 1/4
- Speed: 14,000 OPM;
- Motor: 2.0 amp;
- The package includes Sheet Sander, paper punch plate and 1 sheet of abrasive paper;
- Model no: 7292-02;
- Weight: 3 pounds.
Only contractors look for sander that is suitable for staircase sanding. There is no such sander as that category, so, the choices vary a lot. However, as contracting is a long term job, hence I tried to add products on my list which will last longer. This Skil sander is durable. So, it is obvious that it has a long service life. Otherwise, the investment will still be risk-free for contractors who are new at this profession due to its money-back guarantee.
It comes with a pressure control setting, which is handy in many ways. It protects the machine from overload and the material from . The dust collection is quite better as a random orbital sander. Most small type sander has an issue with collecting dust, but this sander has a clear canister so you know when it needs disposal. The performance of the dust collector has got a mixed review, hence, not relying solely on the built-in one will be wiser.
- Pressure control;
- Low cost;
- Transparent canister;
- Backed by a money-back guarantee.
- Can’t reach the corners of the stairs.
3. Makita 2 Amp Finishing Sander
- Pad size: 4-½ x 4 inches;
- paper size: 4-½ ” x 5-½’’;
- Speed: 14,000 OPM;
- Motor: 2 amp;
- The package includes sander, abrasive paper, dust bag, and punch plate;
- Model no: BO4556;
- Weight: 2.5 pounds.
Unlike other Makita power tools, this one falls in mid-range. Usually, Makita products fall in high range power tools. However, despite its price, it delivers performance as good as expensive sanders. In terms of stair sanding, it is a powerful and convenient option for someone who wants to polish own stairs by himself.
It comes with a single speed, so there is no chance of confusion about what speed needs to be used for what purpose. The machine is a real aggressive one, so it is a better option for stripping old varnish and dirt from used stairs to prepare it for further renovation.
The machine is very light. So, there is less chance that your hands will get stressed for a day-long operation even if you are not used to it.
- Powerful machine;
- Reasonable price;
- Easy to use.
- No cons.
4. PORTER-CABLE 3-Inch-by-21-Inch Variable-Speed Belt Sander
- Belt size: 3 x 21 inches;
- Speed: 850-1,300 SFPM;
- Motor: 8 amp;
- The package includes sander only;
- Model no: 352VS;
- Weight: 10.56 pounds.
First of all, belt type sanders are mainly for smoothing large surfaces at a short notice. So, in the case of stairs, these are not generally used. But having a multi-use sander is better than renting one specific use sander. This porter cable sander has a 3 x 21 square inch belt surface to polish large surfaces faster. Besides, its variable speed settings may prove useful to polish different wood materials of your floor and stairs.
The motor is very powerful to run for a long period of time delivering constant power. It is a bench-top belt sander, hence by flipping it you can use the belt to sand small boards of wood or other materials. For example, after polishing wooden boards and placing them on the stairs, use the sander to smooth out the surface for a more finished look. Later you can use a palm sander for the leftover corners.
- Large sanding surface;
- Versatile use;
- Very powerful.
- A regular vacuum doesn’t fit the port;
- May require touch-up to polish corners of the stair.
5. PORTER-CABLE 1/4 Sheet Orbital Finish Palm Sander
- Sheet size: 1/4;
- Speed: 13,500 SFPM;
- Motor: 2 amp;
- The package includes sander, operating manual and paper Punch;
- Model no: 380;
- Weight: 3.5 pounds.
For use on newly constructed stairs, a decent sanding unit with less aggressive power is often appreciated like this 380 model from Porter-Cable. Because there is no paint to be removed and no rough surface to be smoothed. So, using an aggressive one can damage the material on the surface of the stairs.
This sander has a significantly low vibration. So, the noise produced is also non-existent. Paper setting and changing are also hassle-free. For the economical price range, the offered feature and warranty is added a bonus for this sander.
There is no mentionable negative side of this machine. But for contractors, I would recommend using more durable machines.
- A long warranty offered;
- Low vibration;
- Easy to set and change paper;
- Less aggressive sanding.
- No cons.
Types of Sander Used for Stairs
Stairs are mostly rectangular in shape with an enclosed corner on one side. Some stairs have wide angles as well. Now, to sand a staircase, choosing a sander with a square or triangular shaped pad is more logical than choosing one with a circular pad.
I can’t say which one you must use and which one not. Rather, I will discuss all these types so that you will find the pros and cons of each type sander.
Finishing sander/Palm Sander
These are square pad sanders that move on orbital motion. These are the best kind to sand a stair. These are small, compact and never leave any corner untouched. Besides, these are powerful also, which is suitable for hardwood stairs.
This sander has a triangular pad and also moves on orbital motion. These are great to reach any spot easily and are more suitable for stairs with wide angles. Detail sanders are less powerful and the pad is smaller than square ones. So, it may take longer to complete the project.
Random Orbital Sander
The last one option for sanding a staircase should be an orbital sander. The pad is circular, hence, the corners will be left to be polished manually. But these sanders are all-rounder and can be found in any homeowners tool box. So, you can use it on the stairs too, but remember to touch up the corners manually.
Paper attachment systems are mostly two types for palm sanders. Clip system and loop system. The loop system is more secure but takes time to change paper in between your tasks. On the other hand, the clip system is easier for paper changing. There are sanders available that take both types of paper. Choose one based on your preference.
The power required for sanding the stair highly depends on the type of wood used for the stair. If it is a hard wood stair, then the more power full the sander is the better. Otherwise, a moderate one will do the job.
Take into account how the sander fits in your palm and how noisy of vibrating it is. All these matters when you have to work on a large project. These sanders are held by hand for a long time. A wrongly chosen one can make you take a break frequently and can lengthen the task.
If you have gone through all the top rated sanders I have chosen for you and the guideline to choose one for your project, then you already got the idea how to choose one for yourself. Sanding a stair is no big deal if you got the right tool in your hand.
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