Best Hand Sanders For Stairs – How To Refinish Your Staircases?

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Your home’s staircases are the backbone of your house: They connect floors and rooms and are often the first thing guests see when they step into your front entryway.

Because stairs connect so many facets of your living space, they see a lot of foot traffic and can suffer from a fair amount of wear and tear.

If you’re renovating your house or wanting to change up your look, refurbishing your home’s staircase can be a dramatic make-over opportunity. 

With various types and models of hand sanders available in the market, how do you know which one is best suited for your home? 

We’ve taken the guesswork out of making the right choice and have created a mini-guide to help you better understand your options.

What type of hand sander is best for your stairs?

There are 10 main types of hand sanders available for purchase on the market today. Chances are, when you visit your local hardware store or big-box supplier, you’ll see one of the following options: 

  1. Palm sander
  2. Detail sander
  3. Random orbital sander
  4. Sheet sander
  5. Drum sander
  6. Spindle sander
  7. Edge sander
  8. Belt sander
  9. Disc sander
  10. Combo sander

Let’s break down the top three most-used hand sanders, what they’re used for and which one may be the best option for working on your home’s stairs

Palm Sanders

Palm sanders are easy to use and can be operated with a single hand. A suitable choice for a host of home improvement projects, palm sanders can be an effective choice for sanding your stairs. 

A Palm sander operates circularly and at varying speeds. This makes it a good choice if you’re wanting to move quickly. Its design also makes it easier to hit those hard-to-reach areas and still get a smooth finish. 

Most palm sanders utilize a loop-style sandpaper system. This means you can switch out used sandpaper and replace it with fresh sheets effortlessly and easily. 

Detail Sanders

Also known as “corner sanders” or “mouse sanders”, detail sanders are helpful for sanding smaller staircases in tight spaces. 

 Not as fast as palm sanders, detail sanders sander use a triangular-shaped sandpaper pad and have a little less power. Operating in a controlled, orbital motion, detail sanders may require more time to finish a project. But, they’re an affordable and good option for woodworking projects. 

Random Orbital Sanders

A random orbital sander is a great choice as an all-rounder sander. For stairs with rough surfaces, small eccentric orbits and delivers fine sanding. Random orbital sanders are very powerful, but they can’t reach the corners as compared to palm sanders which can do that. So, you have to do that manually. This sander model gives the best results on diverse surfaces such as wood, metal, or plastic. However, it is a bit costly.

Best Sander for your stairs – My List

Brand & Model
BOSCH OS50VC Electric Orbital Sander - 3.4...
Makita BO4556 2 Amp Finishing Sander, Teal
DEWALT Random Orbit Sander, 5-Inch (DWE6421K)
Porter-Cable 352VS 3 in. x 21 in. Variable-Speed Sander with Dust Bag
BLACK+DECKER MOUSE 1.2 Amp Electric Detail...
CRAFTSMAN Random Orbit Sander, 3-Amp, Corded...
Preview
BOSCH OS50VC Electric Orbital Sander - 3.4...
Makita BO4556 2 Amp Finishing Sander, Teal
DEWALT Random Orbit Sander, 5-Inch (DWE6421K)
BLACK+DECKER MOUSE 1.2 Amp Electric Detail...
CRAFTSMAN Random Orbit Sander, 3-Amp, Corded...
Rating
Price on Amazon
$337.43
$49.00
$64.99
$68.99
$39.97
$56.98
Buy Elsewhere
-
-
-
-
-
Prime?
Brand & Model
BOSCH OS50VC Electric Orbital Sander - 3.4...
Preview
BOSCH OS50VC Electric Orbital Sander - 3.4...
Rating
Price on Amazon
$337.43
Buy on Amazon
Buy Elsewhere
-
Prime?
Brand & Model
Makita BO4556 2 Amp Finishing Sander, Teal
Preview
Makita BO4556 2 Amp Finishing Sander, Teal
Rating
Price on Amazon
$49.00
Buy on Amazon
Buy Elsewhere
-
Prime?
Brand & Model
DEWALT Random Orbit Sander, 5-Inch (DWE6421K)
Preview
DEWALT Random Orbit Sander, 5-Inch (DWE6421K)
Rating
Price on Amazon
$64.99
Buy on Amazon
Buy Elsewhere
-
Prime?
Brand & Model
Porter-Cable 352VS 3 in. x 21 in. Variable-Speed Sander with Dust Bag
Preview
Rating
Price on Amazon
$68.99
Buy on Amazon
Buy Elsewhere
Prime?
Brand & Model
BLACK+DECKER MOUSE 1.2 Amp Electric Detail...
Preview
BLACK+DECKER MOUSE 1.2 Amp Electric Detail...
Rating
Price on Amazon
$39.97
Buy on Amazon
Buy Elsewhere
-
Prime?
Brand & Model
CRAFTSMAN Random Orbit Sander, 3-Amp, Corded...
Preview
CRAFTSMAN Random Orbit Sander, 3-Amp, Corded...
Rating
Price on Amazon
$56.98
Buy on Amazon
Buy Elsewhere
-
Prime?

 

Best Sanders For Stairs – My Reviews


1. Bosch OS50VC 

Type of Sander: Orbital Sanders

Best Features  BOSCH OS50VC Electric Orbital Sander - 3.4...

  • Powerful
  • Good Dust Collector
  • Multiple speed options with less vibration

My Overall Rating

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

More detailed review ↴

The first noticeable feature of this sander is that it doesn’t vibrate as much as other hand sanders. This is largely because the Bosch OS50VC has a vibration control option that allows you to adjust your sanding speed. This feature is extremely beneficial for sanding stairs, where different speeds and control options are particularly helpful in tighter areas.

We also like the easy-grip, ergonomic handle. Combined with the sander’s vibration control, we were able to work longer with less fatigue.

The Bosch OS50VC also has a specialized SheetLoc™ Supreme paper-clamping system to help keep your sandpaper in place and increase the lifespan of the sandpaper you use. For sanding stairs, you often need different grit papers to get the job done right. Bosch accepts 60, 80, 120,and 180 grit papers. 

A powerful sander, the Bosch OS50VC comes with a 3.4 amp motor and has an adjustable speed range from 8,000 to 11,000 orbits per minute (or OPMs). 

When working on sanding and refinishing stairs, a lot of dust can be produced. This sander features a micro-filter canister and screw-off caps to help get rid of the dust faster.

Overall, this is a great sander for working on stairs. However, it is a costlier choice, and the sander tends to be rather noisy.

On the downside, this sander can get very noisy after a while.

What We Liked:

  • Powerful – A 3.4 amp motor, makes the Bosch OS50VC a robust and effective sander. 
  • Fast – Its speed range is between 8,000 – 11,000 OPMs, suitable for swift applications.
  • Accurate – The specialized paper clamping system helps ensure the sander grips the sandpaper effectively, for more careful and precise woodwork.
  • Comfortable – Ergonomic handles provide an easy grip.
  • Less vibration – Vibration control helps reduce fatigue.
  • Multiple sandpaper grit optionsThis is a versatile sanding option and can operate with different sandpaper grits options (60, 80, 120, and 180-grit paper).
What We Didn’t:

  • Cost – This is a spendier model of sander.
  • Noise level – The Bosch can be extremely noisy.

2. Makita BO4556 

Type of Sander: Finishing Sander

Best Features  DEWALT Random Orbit Sander, 5-Inch (DWE6421K)

  • Less Noise
  • Lightweight
  • Fast

My Overall Rating

4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

More detailed review ↴

If you are looking for a lightweight sander with a smooth performance, then make sure to check out Makita BO4556. This effective hand sander combines speed, power, and smooth performance–and it only weighs 2.6 pounds. 

The Makita is a good option for most woodworking and finishing projects, making it a good choice when it comes to refinishing and sanding your home’s stairs.

Powerful and fast, the Makita sports a 2.0 amp motor and delivers up to 14,000 OPMs (out-pacing the Bosch). I like this sander’s ergonomical palm grips with soft, rubber padding, that fit perfectly in your hand making the sander easy to hold and control. The Makita BO4556 also employs a ball-bearing construction, which reduces noise and makes the tool vibrate less. 

Like most of the sanders, the Makta has a dust-collection system. But this particular system is more effective than most others: It’s dust bag has an extra mouth to help you get rid of the dust faster.

The only drawback I found with the Makita BO4556 is it doesn’t come with adjustable speed settings.

On the downside, the Makita BO4556 doesn’t come with adjustable speed settings.

What We Liked:

  • Fast –The Makita has super-fast speeds, ranging up to 14,000 OPMs.
  • Robust motor – It contains a 2.0 AMP motor, hence strong.
  • Lightweight and compact It just weighs 2.6 pounds.
  • Less noise – Ball-bearing construction lessens noise and vibration.
  • Effective dust collection system This hand sander has a better dust collection system with an extra mouth on the dust bag.
What We Didn’t Like:

  • Its speed is not adjustable.

3. DEWALT DWE6421K

Type of Sander: Random Orbit

Best Features  DEWALT Random Orbit Sander, 5-Inch (DWE6421K)

  • Powerful
  • Good Dust Collector
  • Fast

My Overall Rating

4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

More detailed review ↴

If you are looking for a sander with a powerful motor, then the DEWALT DWE6421 is the perfect pick. This sander has a powerful 3.0 amp motor with a speed of about 12,000 OPMs, adequate for sanding stairs and more.

A prominent feature of this sander is its short height. It allows you to hold the tool more easily and with better control. Its design has a separate counterweight and a rubber cover to prevent vibrations and prove more stability, too

The DEWALT sander also has a great dust collection system. You can connect a vacuum to the tool to remove the dust. Plus, it contains a dust-sealed switch that protects it from dust ingestion to give it a longer life. The system also includes dust collection and a one-handed locking bag.

What We Liked:

  • Fast – DEWALT’s hand sander can reach up to 12,000 OPMs.
  • Powerful motor – It features a strong motor with 3.0 amps.
  • Easy control – The tools’ shorter size translates to easier maneuverability and control. 
  • Fewer vibrations – DEWALT’s rubber design helps decrease the vibration effect, making this sander easier to hold for longer periods of time.
  • Effective dust collection system A protective dust-seal helps the DEWALT work more effectively and enjoy a longer life.
What We Didn’t Like:

  • A pricer sander, this option isn’t affordable for single use.

4. PORTER-CABLE Belt Sander

Type of Sander: 1/4 Sheet Finishing Sander

Best Features  

  • Quiet
  • Powerful
  • Good Dust Collection System

My Overall Rating

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

More detailed review ↴

First of all, this is a belt sander. These types of sanders are usually used to sand larger areas because they do it good and fast. They usually are not used for stairs.

But, I used this sander to sand stairs and I got good results, and that’s why I included this on this list. Plus, sometimes it’s better to have a sander that can be used for different tasks rather than buying one for a specific project.

The PORTER-CABLE 352VS comes with variable speed settings, meaning that you can change the speed. This is helpful, especially if you work with different materials. The speed goes from 850 to 1,300 SFPM.  It has a quick-release belt change that makes the speed changes easier and faster.

It comes with a very unique dust collector. It has a 360-degree dust nozzle that it’s adjustable — haven’t seen this anywhere else, this feature lets you pivot the dust bag, I find this helpful when I have to sand corners or tight spaces.  The dust collector system also allows you to connect a dust vacuum (make sure to check the dust port sizes, a regular vacuum doesn’t fit the port).

To make it better, it also has a powerful motor. The motor is 8.0 amp.

What We Liked:

  • Speed Variable Settings – Allows you to change the speed from 850 to 1.300 SFPM.
  • Powerful Motor – Features a motor that is made to last, 8.0 amp.
  • Quiet – This tool keeps the volume low thanks to the gear system. It meshes more accurately, which means less noise
  • Unique Dust Collection System – 360-degree dust nozzle that can be adjusted.
What We Didn’t Like:

  • A regular vacuum doesn’t fit the dust port.

5. BLACK+DECKER QS900

Type of Sander: Random orbit hand sander

Best Features  BLACK+DECKER MOUSE 1.2 Amp Electric Detail...

  • 3-Position Grip
  • Cheaper
  • Lightweight

My Overall Rating

3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

More detailed review ↴

The BLACK+DECKER QS900 is a budget-friendly sander and does a great job refinishing most wood projects, particularly smaller tasks—like sanding your stairs. 

This tool features a 3-position grip:

  • Palm grip: Used for sanding large surfaces. 
  • Precision grip: For careful jobs requiring more attention. 
  • Handle grip: Perfect for sanding in tight areas or on rougher surfaces; this is a good option for going over wood stairs and corners that were previously carpeted or painted.

The BLACK+DECKER QS900 comes with a 1.5 AMP power motor and operates at 1400 OPMs. It boasts an effective dust collector system with a transparent dust canister, so you can see when it’s full and needs to be emptied.

What We Liked:

  • Budget-Friendly – This hand sander doesn’t cost as much as the other products listed in this article.
  • Good motor – The BLACK+DECKER sander has a 1.5 AMP motor that runs at 1,400 OPMs.
  • Multi-purpose sanding options With three helpful grip positions that match your job’s application needs: Palm Grip, Precision Grip, and Handle Grip.
  • Effective dust collector – The dust collection system has a see-through canister.
What We Didn’t Like:

  • It isn’t as high-quality as the others here, but it still does the job!

 

6. CRAFTSMAN Random Orbit Sander

Type of Sander: Random orbit hand sander

Best Features:

  • Dustless sander
  • Powerful tool
  • Comfortable to use

My Overall Rating

More detailed review ↴

If your stairway renovation job requires serious sanding, you need the power and performance that a Craftsman corded random orbital sander offers. The Craftsman CMEW231 is a great option, with a 5-inch pad that can make quick work of any surface, no matter how large. 

This sander comes with a powerful yet quiet motor that delivers high performance. The ergonomic design has an easy-grip handle for extended use. 

A 3 amp motor, gives the Craftsman sander enough power to deliver high performance and shoulder your heavy-duty tasks. 

The Craftsman hand sander features a unique dust-sealed switch that protects the machine from debris, extending its lifespan. It also has an integrated pad brake that helps stop the pad immediately when you turn it off. 

The Craftsman CMEW231 Random Orbit Sander is a great tool to have around the house. It’s compact and easy to use and we think it’s the best recommendation for anyone who wants an affordable sander for quick and efficient jobs.

What We Liked:

  • High-quality – The Craftsman hand sander is an amazing quality for this price range.
  • Suitable speedWith speeds up to 12,000 OPMs the Craftsman hand sander is suitable for stock removal.
  • Smooth performance – It has a very smooth pad rotation.
  • Great balance The ergonomic design helps this tool feel well balanced. 
What We Didn’t Like:

  • Variable speed mechanism makes it a little bit difficult to control at the start, and you need some time to get used to that.

How to Refinish Your Staircase (Using Sanders)?

Are your home’s wood stairs stained, chipped, or tired and worn out? Redecorating and refinishing them can breathe new life into your home’s decor.

An updated wood staircase can:

  • Give your home a brand-new look.
  • Improve your house’s resale value.
  • Make it easier to clean and maintain your stairs for years to come.

Although it may seem like a job reserved for only pros, updating your stairs can be a DIY project. Let’s dive into the steps that go into updating and refreshing your stairs.

Learn Here: How To Refinish Your Staircase? (A more detailed article)

1. Remove the Existing Carpet

Give yourself a clean slate to work with by first removing the existing carpet or paint. You can use a pliers to pull up carpet nails and your existing carpet and paint remover to clean up any existing paint.

2. Clean the surface

After removing old carpet or paint, you’ll want to clean and prep your stairs. You can either use your favorite wood cleaner, or warm soapy water, to wipe-down your stairs. Be sure to follow-up with a dry towel. 

3. Patch holes with wood filler

You can skip this step if you don’t have any holes in your stairs. But, if you have any holes from old carpet nails, you’ll want to fill and sand-down the surface, to ensure your floors are even.

4. Sand 

Once you have removed the old carpet and paint from your stairs and cleaned the surface, it’s time to sand. You can do this in one of two ways: (1) with a little elbow grease and a strip of sandpaper; (2) or with a power hand sander. We recommend you to sand with the help of a power sander for fast results and a smoother finish. 

Make sure to use a sander that gives you a smooth finish (Check our recommended list at top of the page). Don't move your hand too quickly while sanding and try to sand the entire staircase. Learn here How to Sand A Table?

After you are done with the sanding now you will have to get rid of the dust. Sanders for stairs usually come with a good dust collection system, but on the off chance, you still have to use a vacuum to make sure there isn't dust. You can also use water to wash the stairs before the next step.

5. Clean up any dust

After you’ve completed sanding the stairs, repeat your cleaning process. Sweep or vacuum up dust, wipe the steps clean, and dry with a soft, clean towel.

6. Stain or paint

Almost done! If you’re planning to stain your stairs, carefully apply your wood stain with a clean cloth dipped in your stain, and wipe gently along the wood in the direction of the grain. Use a lint-free rag and aim to make the stain as opaque as possible. Leave the stain on for a few minutes before adding a second coat, if you want a darker stain. (The darker the color, the more layers you’ll need to apply, and the longer you’ll wait for it to fully dry.)

Planning to instead paint your stairs? You can employ a paint sprayer for a faster and evenly covered result. Using a paint sprayer can be harder than you’d imagine, but we have all the info you need to get started in our paint sprayer section. We have also made a list of recommendations for the best HVLP paint sprayers for wood. Make sure to check it if you need one!

If you don't like the color, then you can use a sander for paint removal.

Final Words and My List 

We hope you enjoyed this overview of how to find the right sander and employ the best techniques to make your stairs look new again. Don’t forget to reference our list of top-recommended sanders to consider using for your project, and our step-by-step mini-guide to help you through the process. 

Bottom line: A good sander can make all the difference and will make your staircase refinishing process easier and bring the final results we know you love.

And to make it easier for you, I've listed my best sanders for your stairs again.

Brand & Model
BOSCH OS50VC Electric Orbital Sander - 3.4...
Makita BO4556 2 Amp Finishing Sander, Teal
DEWALT Random Orbit Sander, 5-Inch (DWE6421K)
Porter-Cable 352VS 3 in. x 21 in. Variable-Speed Sander with Dust Bag
BLACK+DECKER MOUSE 1.2 Amp Electric Detail...
CRAFTSMAN Random Orbit Sander, 3-Amp, Corded...
Preview
BOSCH OS50VC Electric Orbital Sander - 3.4...
Makita BO4556 2 Amp Finishing Sander, Teal
DEWALT Random Orbit Sander, 5-Inch (DWE6421K)
BLACK+DECKER MOUSE 1.2 Amp Electric Detail...
CRAFTSMAN Random Orbit Sander, 3-Amp, Corded...
Rating
Price on Amazon
$337.43
$49.00
$64.99
$68.99
$39.97
$56.98
Buy Elsewhere
-
-
-
-
-
Prime?
Brand & Model
BOSCH OS50VC Electric Orbital Sander - 3.4...
Preview
BOSCH OS50VC Electric Orbital Sander - 3.4...
Rating
Price on Amazon
$337.43
Buy on Amazon
Buy Elsewhere
-
Prime?
Brand & Model
Makita BO4556 2 Amp Finishing Sander, Teal
Preview
Makita BO4556 2 Amp Finishing Sander, Teal
Rating
Price on Amazon
$49.00
Buy on Amazon
Buy Elsewhere
-
Prime?
Brand & Model
DEWALT Random Orbit Sander, 5-Inch (DWE6421K)
Preview
DEWALT Random Orbit Sander, 5-Inch (DWE6421K)
Rating
Price on Amazon
$64.99
Buy on Amazon
Buy Elsewhere
-
Prime?
Brand & Model
Porter-Cable 352VS 3 in. x 21 in. Variable-Speed Sander with Dust Bag
Preview
Rating
Price on Amazon
$68.99
Buy on Amazon
Buy Elsewhere
Prime?
Brand & Model
BLACK+DECKER MOUSE 1.2 Amp Electric Detail...
Preview
BLACK+DECKER MOUSE 1.2 Amp Electric Detail...
Rating
Price on Amazon
$39.97
Buy on Amazon
Buy Elsewhere
-
Prime?
Brand & Model
CRAFTSMAN Random Orbit Sander, 3-Amp, Corded...
Preview
CRAFTSMAN Random Orbit Sander, 3-Amp, Corded...
Rating
Price on Amazon
$56.98
Buy on Amazon
Buy Elsewhere
-
Prime?

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