Best Sanders For Deck Refinishing (2021)

Last Updated on August 28, 2021


Wooden decks are very common in households as they are great places to relax and offer a convenience event spot for birthdays and parties. The drawback? Like anything worth keeping, they require maintenance.

Luckily for you, the maintenance is simple. Experts recommend refinishing every 2 to 3 years. In other words, ensure to sand and repaint (or even varnish?) your deck every 2 to 3 years.

With this in mind, the first major step is selecting the perfect sander to perform a quality finish. In this article, we discuss the best available deck sanders in the market and, as a bonus, we included a buying guide, tips on how to prepare the area for sanding, and advice on how to remove sanding dust from the surface for added polish.

Let’s dive in and recreate the home deck like you never imagined it before …

Top 8 Sanders For Deck Refinishing in 2021


ProductPowerWeightPrices
Makita 9403 Belt11A15.87 lb
DEWALT DWE6423K Random Orbit3A4 lb
SKIL 7510-01 Sandcat Belt Sander6A6.75 lb
Bosch OS50VC Orbital Finishing3.4A0.03 lb
Hitachi SB8V2 Variable Speed Belt9A9.5 lb
Bosch 1250DEVS orbital sander6.5A7.3 lb
Bosch ROS20VSC 5 inch orbital2.5A3.5 lb

Here are our top 8 picks for best deck sanders in 2021:

1. The Makita 9403 4″ X 24″ Belt Sander

Makita 9403 Belt Sander

Our top pick is the Makita 9403. There is one thing that our internal team, DIY bloggers, and verified Amazon reviewers can attest to – the Makita 9403 delivers professional quality results.  This belt sander is fast, easy to control, and, not to mention, one of the quietest sanders one can find.

The sander’s weight may be a drawback at ~13 pounds, however, many users have noted that this is an added layer of control. Once in your hands, nothing can stop this sander. It is powerful as a rhino and swift as a leopard allowing for fast removal of stains and paints.

The Makita 9403 comes with a belt width of 4 inches and works at a speed of 1,640 feet per minute. It has a wide grip that makes it even easier to use, even for beginners. Its built-in dust collection bag saves you countless hours in after-work cleaning.

One of the most convenient features is the location of its power chord, which is at the top. It’s very irritating to move a sander with one hand and use another to hold the power cable. The manufacturers understood the same and kept the cable out of your way.

For one-time projects, the Makita 9403’s price tag may preclude it from your selection, however, its durability makes it a great option for professionals and active DIYers.

Pros

  • Fast and powerful
  • Wide belt (4-inches)
  • Quiet (84 decibels)
  • Built-in dust collection bag

Cons

  • Heavy (13 lbs)
  • Higher price point

2. The DEWALT DWE6423K Random Orbit Sander

DEWALT DWE6423K Random Orbit Sander

If you are looking for a sander for weekend work or a one-time deck sanding machine, the DEWALT DWE6423K will be a great option. With 3 amp motor under the hood, it is powerful enough to work on any kind of surface, even the hard ones. Moreover, it has a fine dust capture cabinet and is cost effective.

The ability of the DWE6423K to deliver a smooth and precise surface is enough for any wooden deck refinishing. In fact, it can complete the job in half the time compared to other orbital sanders. Huge productivity bonus that is, right? Talk about time-savings.

The orbital floor sander also has air vents around the motor for safety against overheating during prolonged usage. Another attractive feature of this model is its speed control dial. This allows you to change the device’s OPM (orbits per minutes) from 8,000 to 12,000 based on the level of surface smoothness you want to achieve. This feature also comes in handy when working on different materials of variable densities – hard and soft.

If you prefer an orbital sander over belt sanders then you definitely need to check out the DWE6423K.

Pros

  • Powerful
  • Variable speed dial (8,000 to 12,000 OPM)
  • Low vibration and lightweight (4 lbs)
  • Affordably priced (perfect for non-frequent DIYers)

Cons

  • Some users noted difficulty in connecting the dust bag to the external air vacuum

3. The SKIL 7510-01 Sandcat Belt Sander

SKIL 7510-01 Sandcat Belt Sander

The 7510-01 Sandcat from SKIL gives the best value for money and the performance you will appreciate.  If you are a budget DIYer or professional looking for a can-do belt sander, the SKIL 7510-01 Sandcat is one of the most reliable and cost-effective choices.

It comes with a 6 amp powerful motor that allows you to work on any surface, be it hard or rough. Flexibility is another feather in its cap, as you can sand through different surfaces or edges without any trouble.

One of the most valuable features of the SKIL 7510-01 Sandcat is the pressure-control feedback system. The system’s indicator lights turn on to alert you of excessive pressure application. This eliminates the guesswork and prevents you from damaging the deck/flooring. This feature packs high utility and really sets the sander apart from the other models.

The sander also has a micro-filtration mechanism to capture even the finest dust particles. However, the dust collector seems to be the problem as users reported difficulty in keeping it connected. This can be a distraction while sanding a large wooden deck. Another considerable disadvantage is its narrow belt size of 3 inches that may add an extra 10-30+ minutes to your original time-to-completion. If time (and speed) is a key buying factor, you should look for a model with a wider belt.

Pros

  • Powerful
  • Value for money
  • Pressure control system

Cons

  • User reported difficulty in attaching dust collector
  • Narrow belt size (3 inches); Could add 10+ minutes to your job

4. The Bosch OS50VC Orbital Finishing Sander

Bosch OS50VC

Powerful and heavy-duty, the Bosch OS50VC comes with a 3.4 amp motor and an extensive 1/2 inch sheet sanding pad. This design component renders the Bosch OS50VC perfect for sanding large decks. This also makes it unique as there are not many sanders that comes with a half inch sanding pad.

The Bosch OS50VC is one of the most user friendly and ergonomic orbital sanders. A focus on user comfort and design thinking was clearly evident in the manufacturing of this device. The manufacturers included a built-in vibration control and suspension mechanism, a speed dial, and clamping system, to allow for maximum comfort while working on any wood surfaces.

The devices’ aluminum bottom and intricate built makes it comparatively heavier at 6 pounds. For most users, the weight proves useful for added sturdiness and accuracy of alignment when in use.

The Bosch OS50VC does not have a dust collection bag, however, the dust canister works well to collect even the tiniest particles and is easy to detach and empty when necessary.

The device comes at a high price tag, but is worth the money because of the efficiency and reliability.

Pros

  • Powerful
  • Large sheet (Perfect for large decks)
  • Built-in vibration control and suspension mechanism
  • Variable speed dial
  • Clamping system

Cons

  • Comparatively expensive

5. The Hitachi SB8V2 Variable Speed Belt Sander  Hitachi SB8V2

One of the most affordable sanders, the Hitachi SB8V2 has all the features required for any fine sanding job. With compact dimensions of 3 x 21-inch, you can control it easily as well as carry it anywhere. It comes with a 9 amp powerful motor that allows you to sand any rough surface or remove stains and paint with relative ease.

The SB8V2 has a speed control turn button and an elastomer handle grip for easy control and use. It comes with a dust collection bag that is easy to slip in and remove.

The water-resistant V-belt of the sander has excellent wear and tear capacity that makes sure that it can work for many years to come. Another unique feature is its front tracking window that gives clear visibility while sanding. Overall, the professional sander from Hitachi gives you the best service at an affordable price.

Sanding belts are not included with the purchase of the item, however, they can easily be included with the purchase at your local hardware store or AMZN. On the device, there is a push lever that makes it easy to mount or replace the sanding belt. The brushes are also easier to replace as compared to other sanders.

Hitachi offers a five-year limited warranty on the product and you can also purchase any replacement parts on their website. However, it is durable enough and will not ask for any maintenance until 5+ years (or something bad happens).

Pros

  • Durable
  • Affordable
  • High-end design

Cons

  • Small sanding sheet
  • Sanding belt is not included

6. The PORTER-CABLE 352VS Variable-Speed Belt Sander

PORTER-CABLE 352VS Sander for Deck Refinishing

The PORTER-CABLE 352VS is easy to use, sturdy, and solid. The belt sander has a complete metal build and weighs 10 pounds. The metal case makes it durable with performance benefits.

PORTER-CABLE 352VS comes with an industrial standard 9 amp motor. It also has a speed control dial that gives you the facility to control the speed from 850 to 1, 300 SFPM (Surface feet per minute). A large dust collection bag is included so that you do not have to worry about cleaning.

The dust bag also swivels to 360 degrees that you can always move it out of your way if needed. It has a unique flush sanding feature or , in other words, the ability to sand adjoining surfaces. Even if you are sanding the stairs, the 352VS and its solid ceramic aluminum oxide belt can reach all corners. The built of the PORTER-CABLE 352VS also allows users to quickly change the belt size to cater for varying deck sizes.

The PORTER-CABLE 352VS with its sufficient performance and abundant features is a no-risk deal for shoppers and comes with a three-year warranty that gives you extra peace of mind.

Pros

  • Variable speed control dial
  • Metal housing
  • Dust collection bag
  • Flush sanding feature
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Noisy and produces a lot of heat with prolonged usage

7. The Bosch 1250DEVS 6.5 Amp Corded 6 inches

Bosch 1250DEVS 6.5 Amp Corded 6 in orbital sander

Perfect for any deck, the Bosch 1250DEVS orbital sander comes with a mighty 6.5 amp motor and large 6-inch circular pad. Supported by a variable speed dial of 3,100 to 6,650 OPM, it can tackle all kinds of surfaces including desks. The sander’s constant response mechanism maintains constant pad speeds even under heavy loads and prevents overloading.

The Bosch 1250DEVS  delivers excellent performance and is sturdy enough to last beyond the average 3 to 5 year timeline. Its dual-mode sanding feature gives you complete control of the orbital speed for optimum precision. The first option is called “random orbit mode” and is used for easy materials. The second, eccentric orbit mode, is where the pad works five times faster and is aggressive enough for rough surfaces. There is a sanding mode selector makes it easy for you to switch between modes.

The Bosch 1250DEVS comes with a dust collection bag that eliminates the after-work cleaning – like some of the others mentioned, hence, saving you time. In addition, the device weighs 7.3 pounds and works on 110V/715W. Battery input is not required as it only works on electricity. It is also safe and convenient to use. These are the reasons why we have kept this model in our top picks.

Pros

  • Powerful
  • Large sanding pad
  • Dual sanding modes
  • Can work on any surface

Cons

  • High vibration
  • A small dust collection bag

8. The Bosch ROS20VSC 5 inch orbital

Bosch ROS20VSC 5 inch orbital sander

Only for weekend hobbyists, the Bosch ROS20VSC is light, small, and fits comfortably in any hands. It is user-friendly, you just have to power it on, move the device over the surface, and the work will be done. The ROS20VSC has a decent 2.5 amp motor and a variable OPM of up to 12,000.

Depending on the surface, its speeds can decrease as low as 7,500 OPM. A handy variable speed dial is included to allow you to toggle the speeds as you deem fit. Its dust bag is durable and is easily removed by twisting the head. The micro-filter mechanism with its 1/2-micron diameter is good at detecting and capturing small particles.

The Bosch ROS20VSC is perfect for small decks. Its low power 2.5 amp motor is not suited for completing large decks in a timely manner. Yes, that is right. As the device is small, it also has a smaller dust holding capacity.

The Bosch ROS20VSC works for small projects or materials. For bigger decks and tougher materials, check the options listed above. There are users who have reported that many of the in-box products are faulty and had to be returned for replacement, which again creates hassle.

Pros

  • Comfortable to use
  • Variable speed dial
  • Micro filtration system

Cons

  • Designed only for minor jobs
  • Dust bag fills quickly

As promised, we included comprehensive “How-To” guides below to assist you on your entire deck/surface sanding journey. Here is an index of the major topics covered: 

  • Buying Guide: 5 Key Buying Factors To Look at When Purchasing a Deck Sander
  • Tips for Sanding a Wooden Deck or Floor
  • How To Remove Sanding Dust From Wooden Surfaces?
  • Types of Sanders for Decks and Wooden Surfaces
  • Frequently Asked Questions

Each content is complementary and are organized based on the sequence we believe they would be important to you.


Buying Guide: 5 Key Buying Factors To Look at When Purchasing a Deck Sander


Now, that you have reviewed our top picks for 2021. We know that with the sea of options available, the decision can still be daunting and, honestly, quite difficult. You may like 2 or 3 or more of the top picks and have a hard time deciding. After all, the manufacturers did a commendable job to make the decision difficult for you. Generally, all eight products in our top picks are good purchases, but you may only need to choose one.

Here is a breakdown of the top 5 key buying factors (KBFs) to help you choose the right product and model. The idea is to leave no room in your mind for any doubts.

Let us begin…

1: The Sanding Area: How large is the sanding area?

We know that you want to sand the wooden deck. The question is, what kind of deck you are going to work on? If the deck has variable surfaces or corners, you need a versatile sander that can work on all of it. Otherwise, if you see that the deck is flat, then all you should look for is – speed and power.

2: The Type of Sander: Which type of surface will you be working on?

You will be working on a deck, so we would recommend the belt sanders as they are powerful and fast. Orbital sanders look attractive but they are built for precision and control. They lack the power and ability to cover big areas in short time.

3: The Power Input: How long do you expect to operate the sander with each use? How specialized is the task?

There are two types of deck sanders – wired and battery operated. Wired sanders have high ratings over battery operated ones as the former are better equipped for working long hours. If you prefer to purchase a battery operated sander, then prioritize those packaged with Lithium-ion batteries. Another point is that the greater the “amp”, the greater the horse power. But, we know that you already know this.

4: Dust extraction: How much clean up work would I like to perform after sanding?

Wood sanding creates a lot of dust and debris. It is better to have a sander with a built-in dust collector, otherwise, you will be the one who has to clean the area. Cleaning can be tiring – not to mention, time consuming. Above all, wood dust can create a lot of health problems.

5: The Total Cost of Ownership (TCO): What is the price and long-run maintenance cost for each of my options?

It is not necessary that you have to pay a high price for a good sander. If deck sanding is the only job that you are going to perform with the sander, then it is quite possible to obtain an adequate product without paying a hefty price. However, do not fall prey to cheap products with a limited useful life, think about the price and expected maintenance cost for each product over the next 3 to 5 years.

All we mean is that you should compare all the features as well as the price and expected machinery repairs or upkeep cost, then make the purchase decision. Paying an additional $100 today may get you a product that lasts 10 years and avoids 2-3 product replacements along the way. Choose wisely – focus on total cost of ownership, not price.


Tips for Sanding a Wooden Deck or Floor


As we already spoke about the various types of deck sanding machines. Let us go through the process and some tips that will help while sanding your wooden property.

Step 1: Pressure wash the deck 1-3 days in advance:

The first step is to pressure wash the deck. Be careful with the settings of the pressure washer. If the deck is made of softwood like cedar, pine or spruce, use a wide wand and decide the distance between the wand and the surface. If you see that the wood fibers are lifting as you wash the floor, stop right away and check to see if further interventions are necessary. After the wash, let the deck dry for a couple of days (typically 1-3 days).

Step 2: Prepare the surface and fasten any jotting nails and screws:

Check surface for any jotting screws and nails. Ensure all nails and screws are well placed, typically at least a couple of millimeters below the wooden surface. This is instrumental as jotting nails and screws can damage the sander.

Step 3: Prepare and Begin sanding – remember, safety first:

Unbox and configure your sander for use. Prepare and put on personal safety gear, check sander to ensure all components are properly setup and ready for use. Begin sanding. Start by sanding the floor deck first.

Safety first

  • Wear safety glass and particle mask to protect against hazardous dust particles spread while sanding
  • For added comfort and ease, you can also use a hearing protector and knee pads

Precautions

  • DO NOT use the sander on rough grits/patches as it can excavate the deck, especially one made of softwood
  • DO NOT sand in rainy or wet weather. If it rains during or after sanding, table the project until the deck dries 1 to 3 days later. The sander will not work on a wet surface

[Optional] Step 4: In sanding the railings, ensure to keep evenness and look out for splinters: 

One of the most important parts of the process is sanding the railings. This stage requires precise focus. Furthermore, the results should be even to diminish any chance of splinters or jotted wooden offshoots. No splinters, means no injured hands – whether yours, your wife’s, your guests’, or dear ole Joe’s from across the street. You get the point.

For areas unreachable by the sander, we suggest using a sand paper by hand. The recommended sandpaper grit for sanding railings is between 80 and 100.


How To Remove Sanding Dust From Wooden Surfaces?


If you are like most people, you end goal is to repaint or varnish the deck after sanding. But, you cannot apply the paint or varnish unless all the dust from the sander is removed. If dust particles remain on the deck and you apply the paint or varnish, the deck will look grainy and feel rough and prickly once the paint (varnish) dries.

All your hard work will be wasted just because of those tiny particles and you will not see the perfection that you sought out to create. Follow our 3 step dust removal process to get rewarded for your hard work at the next BBQ and to safeguard your master piece from derision by pesky dust particles.

Step 1: Vacuum thoroughly and wipe: 

Clean the deck surface using a vacuum cleaner fitted with a filter to catch even the finest of dust particles. Then, wipe the surface using a clean and dry cloth. Use a white cloth so that you can see the number of dust particles collected.

Step 2: Wipe the surface with a tack cloth: 

Purchase tack clothes from a nearby grocery store or online. Cut the tack clothes into small squares and wipe it lightly over the deck surface. Keep checking the cloth after regular intervals and replace when necessary.

You can also check the smoothness of the surface while wiping with a tack cloth. If you notice that threads of the cloth are snagging on the rough surface, get back to the sander and make it right.

Step 3: Wipe the surface with denatured alcohol: 

You can end the dust cleaning process after wiping the wooden floor with a tack cloth. But, for best results, wipe it again with a clean cloth moistened with denatured alcohol.

Denatured alcohol will pick even the tiniest dust and evaporates quickly, so it will not leave any marks or discolorations on the floor. After this step, the process is complete. Now, you can move on to staining and sealing as soon as possible.


Types of Sanders for Decks and Wooden Surfaces


There are several types of deck sanders available. Here, we describe only the versatile categories relevant for most common in-home and professional uses

Belt sanders

  • Description: Handheld power tool for deep sanding
  • Pros: Go-to tools for sanding tough surfaces
  • Cons: Difficult to mount and replace belt sandpaper

Random orbit sander

  • Description: All purpose sanders for most home related projects
  • Pros: Designed to prevent common wood damages from sanding (e.g., gouges and grooves)
  • Cons: Not suited for prolonged usages as vibration tires the users’ hand quickly

Rotary Sanders

  • Description: Flat mounted sander with a head that turns in circles; Used to create mirror-like finishes
  • Pros: Excellent for stripping off material and paint; Quickly adds the finishing touches for a mirror-like effect
  • Cons: Difficult to control, especially for beginners

Drum Sander

  • Description: Large floor sander, with handle similar to a lawn mower, for specialized deep floor sanding
  • Pros: Best performance on tough floors; Capable of leveling floor panels or flooring imperfections
  • Cons: Very heavy and large

Frequently Asked Questions


Should I sand my deck before staining?

Yes, it is recommended to sand and clean the dust particles before staining or painting.

Can sanding wood make you sick?

Dust particles spread while sanding can cause serious health troubles including allergic reactions and lung damage. Use a sander with a dust collection bag or always wear a face mask or respirator while sanding.

Is sanding wood dangerous?

Sanding wood is not dangerous. Most injuries are caused when individuals fail to wear protective gear or take general equipment precautions when operating the machinery. Wood dust is a known human carcinogen that can cause irritation, breathing problems, and allergies. Again, use respirators and dust masks always when sanding.

Can you sand a wet deck?

No, you will not be able to sand a wet deck. The sanders will not work on a wet surface. Let the surface dry for a couple days (1-3 days) before sanding.


We hope that there are no doubts left about the sanding process or sanders. Happy sanding 🙂

For any additional questions, please feel free to contact us here through the site or via email at contact@PlayDrills.com

Also checkout these additional articles for other project/tool guides:

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