Best Sander for Stairs

6 Absolute BEST Sanders for Stairs (2023 Reviews)

When it comes to sanding hardwood stairs, there are tons of different options that can make your job easier.

But what’s the best sander for stairs?

I put 6 sanders to the test to find the best sander for your needs. Let’s dig in!

In a hurry? The best sander for stairs is the DeWalt 20V Max Cordless Orbital Sander because of its power, versatility, and lack of cords getting in the way while you work. This sander does an amazing job on stairs and any wood surface making it my top choice.

Quick Answer: Here are My Favorite Sanders for Hardwood Stairs šŸ‘‡

Best Sanders for Stairs

1. DeWalt 20V Max Cordless Orbital Sander – #1 Best Overall

DeWalt Sander
Sale
DEWALT 20V MAX Random Orbit Sander Kit, Cordless, 5-Inch, 2.Ah,…
  • Orbital sander with brushless motor provides runtime and efficiency to get the job done
  • Variable-speed control of the hand sander from 8,000 to 12,000 OPM to match the speed to the application.
  • Low-profile height of the power sander allows user to get close to work surface for precise sanding.

Overall, the best sander for stairs is the DeWalt 20V Max Orbital Sander for a variety of reasons.

This sander has all of the power you’d want in a sander which makes it perfect for stairs and hardwood flooring.

The variable speed control allows you to easily change the speed from 8,000 to 12,000 OPM and the sanding pad is super easy to change. It also has an effective dust collection system with a light dust bag that was easy to tell when it was full.

Additionally, because of the lack of cords, it’s much easier to move around ā€“ which is super helpful when working on your stair refinishing project.

As far as battery life is concerned, I found it to be quite strong. You can get a few full hours of sanding without having to swap batteries.

What I Liked:

  • Extremely powerful sander that does a great job of removing an existing finish
  • Lack of cords makes it easier to move up and down stairs
  • Variable speed settings give you more control that yields a smooth finish
  • Can swap batteries with other DeWalt products

What I Didn’t Like:

  • More expensive than other sanders
  • Shape of orbital sanders make it difficult to reach tight corners and spaces
  • Somewhat heavier because of the battery

My Thoughts

Overall, if you want a great sander that does a tremendous job on stairs, I’d highly recommend purchasing the DeWalt 20V Max Orbital Sander. When it comes to sanding hardwood stairs ā€“ this is the best sander for the job. My only complaints are the price and the shape of this sander. Because of it’s orbital shape, you won’t be able to reach tight spaces that may require a detail sander ā€“ but otherwise this is an excellent high quality sander that I would recommend.

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2. Makita Belt Sander – Best Belt Sander for Hardwood Stairs

Using Makita Belt Sander
Makita 9404 4″ x 24″ Belt Sander, with Variable Speed , Blue
  • Powerful 8.8 AMP motor for faster material removal
  • Low noise (84dB) for operator comfort
  • Auto-tracking belt system tracks belt without adjustment

Don’t want to spend all day sanding? The Makita Belt Sander is another great sander for stairs because of its size and power.

Belt sanders are much faster than random orbital sanders because of their long belt that can remove the finish on your stairs without a problem.

This sander features an 11 amp motor, which is much more powerful than smaller palm sanders.

If you have larger hardwood stairs, this sander is a perfect choice. The belt is extremely easy to change, and the dust bag is large enough so you don’t have to constantly empty it.

It comes in two sizes, a 4″ x 24″ or 3″ x 21″ ā€“ so you can choose which size is better suited for your stairs.

While this sander is definitely on the heavier side, I found that the power made it somewhat easy to control.

What I Liked:

  • Large size makes sanding stairs very fast and effective
  • Extremely powerful 11 amp motor
  • High quality sander that can last for decades

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Won’t be able to reach tight spaces because of the shape of this sander
  • More expensive than orbital sanders
  • Cords can get in the way

My Thoughts

If you’re in the market for a belt sander to save you time, your best bet is the Makita Belt Sander. This is an extremely high quality sander that can sand stairs effortlessly. Because of its size, you can save a ton of time using a belt sander on stairs, just be aware that you won’t be able to reach small crevices and corners like you could a detail sander. Overall, this is the best belt sander for sanding stairs and many other larger projects like decks.

3. Black+Decker Orbital Sander – Best Value

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BLACK+DECKER Orbital Sander, 5 Inch, 2.0 Amp, 12000 OPM, Corded, 1…
  • 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

If you don’t want to spend a fortune on your sander, this Black and Decker Orbital Sander is a strong option for sanding stairs.

While it’s not going to pack the same punch as the DeWalt or Makita sanders above, it’s quite powerful considering the price.

This palm sander is super easy to use and very lightweight, so you don’t have to worry about any fatigue when using it.

There’s no variable speed settings and I found that the dust bag isn’t super well designed, but for the money, this is still a great sander.

What I Liked:

  • Great value for the money
  • Pretty good power when compared to other budget sanders
  • Lightweight and compact design doesn’t cause should or arm fatigue
  • Comfortable grip

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Not as powerful as other sanders which can require more time when sanding
  • Doesn’t feel as durable as other sanders
  • No variable speed control

My Thoughts

If you’re looking for the best orbital sander under $100, this Black and Decker Sander is a tremendous option. While it’s not going to deliver the same power as more expensive models, it’s still surprisingly powerful considering the price. This palm sander did a great job of removing paint and finishes from wood stairs without spending a ton of money. Overall, if you want a sander that will get the job done, without paying a ton ā€“ this is the sander for you.

4. Craftsman Finishing Sander – Best Sander for Stair Landing

Craftsman Palm Sander
CRAFTSMAN Electric Sander, 1/4 inch Sheet, 13,500 OPM, 2 Amp, Corded...
260 Reviews
CRAFTSMAN Electric Sander, 1/4 inch Sheet, 13,500 OPM, 2 Amp, Corded…
  • COMPLETE TASKS WITH EASE: 2.0 Amps and 13,500 OPM of the electric sander gives you the power to complete tasks with ease
  • ON-BOARD DUST BAG: High performance dust collection of the 1/4 sheet sander featuring on-board dust bag and connection to 1-1/4-inch vacuum hose
  • DURABILITY: Dust sealed switch provides added durability

Finishing sanders, or sheet sanders, can be great options to get a swirl free finish on your stairs and the Craftsman Sheet Sander is my top choice in this category.

This sander does a great job of removing old paint and finishes from wood stairs and it’s compact design makes it easy to maneuver.

Additionally, because of the shape of this type of sander, you can reach into corners and tight spots that other sanders can’t.

This sheet sander offers 13,500 OPM of speed despite a smaller 2 amp motor. The ergonomic design and comfortable grip don’t cause any fatigue and the sanding paper is extremely simple to change.

As far as dust collection is concerned, I loved how the dust bag twists in, giving it a more durable feel compared to others.

What I Liked:

  • Compact size and shape make it great for tight areas that other sander can’t reach
  • Relatively powerful considering the price
  • Low vibration comfortable grip make it easy to use

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Not quite as powerful as other sanders
  • No variable speed control

My Thoughts

This Craftsman Finishing Sheet Sander does a tremendous job on stairs and other wood surfaces. Because of its shape, it does a great job in corners and tight spaces where other sanders might not. It offers enough power, and the dust collection system does a surprisingly good job. My only gripes are the lack of variable speed and power, but considering the price ā€“ this is one of the best sanders you can find.

5. SKIL Detail Sander – Best Sander for Stair Spindles

SKIL Detail Sander
SKIL Corded Multi-Function Detail Sander with Micro-Filter Dust Box 3…
  • POWERFUL – With a 1. 2 amp motor and 13,500 orbits per minute, it’s able to deliver a smooth performance over…
  • VERSATILITY ON THE QUICK – This 4-in-1 detail sander comes with an additional 3 detail attachments for fine…
  • TOUGH ON DUST – Between its micro-filtration system and the 1-1/4″ dust port for vacuum attachment you can…

Detail sanders can be a great choice for stairs because of their unique shape. The pointed edge of this type of sander allows you to reach the corners of your stairs, so you aren’t forced to manually sand.

The SKIL Detail Sander is the best choice when it comes to detail sanders because of its shape, price, and dust collection system.

Despite the smaller motor, it does a fine job on hardwood stairs and flooring and produces 13,500 OPM of speed.

The sanding pad is simple to change and the included attachments make it one of the most versatile sanders you can find.

What I Liked:

  • Size and shape makes sanding corners easy
  • Dust collection system did a great job of removing sanding dust
  • Several attachments can help you sand any tight spaces

What I Didn’t Like:

  • Not quite as powerful as some other sanders
  • Not as effective as a belt sander because of its smaller size
  • Plastic dust collection canister makes it tougher to move around some areas

My Thoughts

If you want to avoid handing sanding at all costs, this SKIL Detail Sander is the right sander for you. Because of its size and shape, you can easily reach into tighter spaces that other sanders can’t reach, meaning you don’t have to hand sand at all. My only complaints are that it’s not as powerful as other sanders and the quality isn’t quite as good as others. Other than that, for the price, this is a great sander that will get the job done.

6. Makita Orbital Sander – Best Sander for Stair Banister

Makita BO5041 5″ Random Orbit Sander, Variable Speed
  • Smoother and faster sanding with 3.0 AMP motor
  • Variable speed control dial (4,000-12,000 OPM) enables user to match the sanding speed to the application
  • Ergonomic rubberized palm grip and handle for improved operator comfort and control

The Makita Random Orbital Sander is one of the best sanders for removing paint from any wood surface, including stairs, hardwood floors, and even furniture.

With this sander, you’ll get all of the power you’ll need in an electric sander and because of the variable speed control dial, you can easily handle it.

The 3 amp powerful motor can provide up to 12,000 OPM of speed, which is more than enough for sanding wood stairs and the dust collection system did a decent job of keeping the area clean of dust.

One thing that separates this sander from other orbital sanders is the additional grip. This made it easier to sand stair treads where other sanders would slip off the edge.

What I Liked:

  • Extremely powerful sander that’s great at removing any wood finish
  • Variable speed control makes it easy to maneuver and control
  • Double grip allows you to easily move it around while sanding
  • Sanding pad is extremely easy to change

What I Didn’t Like:

  • More expensive than other sanders
  • Can’t reach tight spaces because of the orbital size and shape
  • Cords can get in the way

My Thoughts

If you’re looking for a powerful sander that’s great for hardwood stairs, this Makita Random Orbital Sander is an amazing choice. This electric sander is one of the most powerful sanders you can buy and the dust collection system does a great job of reducing swirl marks. While this sander is more expensive than others, I think the price is well justified because of how powerful it is. The additional grip makes this one of the best sanders for stairs and I would highly recommend it.

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What to Consider When Buying a Sander for Stairs

Power

When sanding hardwood stairs, you’re going to need a sander that’s powerful enough to remove the finish or paint on the surface of your stairs.

Most sanders will feature a motor between 1.2 and 3 amps for palm sanders whereas belt sanders can have motors up to 11 amps.

One thing that’s important to note is that the more powerful your sander is, the more important speed control is.

Size and Shape

There are many types of sanders to consider for wood stairs. For example, a palm sander like a random orbit sander is one of the most versatile sanders that’s both powerful and easy to control.

Belt sanders, on the other hand, are extremely large and bulky, allowing you to sand much faster.

So which is best?

For wood stairs, it’s best to have a sander that can effectively remove an existing finish while also being easy to maneuver.

If I had to choose just one type, I’d go with either a random orbit sander or a belt sander and finish the corners manually.

However, if you want to get the job done with a single sander, go with a finishing or detail sander. These will take a bit longer, but you want have to hand sand at all.

The weight of the sander can also be important.

Heavier sanders can cause more arm and shoulder fatigue when operating it, which you don’t want. A lightweight sander can be used for hours without any arm pain.

Variable Speed Control

If you opt for a powerful sander, you need to be able to control the speed at which it operates. If you can’t, there’s a decent chance you’ll remove too much material from the wood stairs ā€“ which will require more work to fix.

That’s why most heavy duty sanders will have a speed control dial or trigger that makes it easy to adjust how fast the surface moves.

Variable speed sanders

Dust Collection System

Dust collection is another critical aspect of any sander. Here’s why.

Whenever sanding, you’re going to generate a significant amount of dust that needs to be removed before you can paint or stain over the wood.

But more importantly, if you fail to remove dust while sanding, you can create swirl marks on the wood that can be a pain to remove. This is especially true when using a random orbital sander.

Additionally, depending on what type of finish is on your stairs, this can be toxic if ingested so having a solid dust collection system can help reduce the toxins in the air.

Some sanders will have a dust port that you can connect to an exterior vacuum to keep dust out of the way. Others will have a dust canister that you attach directly to the sander.

If your sander has a canister, there are a couple of things to consider. First, if it is a hard plastic, this can reduce how easy it is to move around certain areas.

Second, consider the color of the dust bag or canister. If the can is a transparent color, you can tell exactly when it is full and needs to be emptied. If your dust bag is a solid black color, this can be more challenging to tell when it’s full.

Price

There’s quite a large variation in pricing when it comes to power sanders.

For example, a basic detail sander can cost less than $60. However, a quality belt sander is going to cost you a few hundred dollars.

In general, I’ve found that a quality electric sander is going to cost around $100 to $150.

Warranty & Durability

In terms of warranty, most sanders will come with a 1 to 3 year manufactures warranty.

By purchasing a quality sander, you can expect it to last for years, if not decades, when well maintained.

Need help refinishing your hardwood stairs? Check out the video below!

FAQs

Can you use orbital sander on stairs?

Yes, orbital sanders are great options for sanding stairs. These sanders are efficient and easy to use on hardwood stairs, making them a perfect choice.

Belt sander or orbital sander for stairs?

Depending on the size of your hardwood stairs a belt sander could be the better option because of how much faster it will be. That said, an orbital sander does a better job around stair treads and smaller areas where a belt sander cannot reach.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the best sander for stairs is the DeWalt 20V Max Random Orbital Sander. This is an extremely powerful sander that does a great job at refinishing stairs. The sanding pads are super easy to change and the dust collection system keeps dust out of the way.

If you’re looking for a belt sander, the Makita Belt Sander is one of the best sanders you can buy. This will make your job much easier, saving you time because of its larger size and powerful motor. You won’t have to worry about swirl marks with this sander either, which can help you get the smooth finish you want.

Finally, if you want something more budget friendly, the Black and Decker Orbit Sander is the best sander for the money. While you won’t get the same power as others, it still has enough power to sand wood stairs without a problem.