If you are reading this article, it is likely that you are wanting to revamp your stairs and get them looking great, but you are unsure how to begin. The thought of sanding your stairs might seem overwhelming. However, sanding stairs is a great way to keep them clean and look good.
Also, by sanding your stairs, even the oldest and most spotted wood can look revitalized and new again. Removing the old finish from your stairs also couldn’t be easier with our help. There are a lot of options on the market for sanding stairs.
Below, we have compiled a guide of the best sanders for achieving a smooth stair with ease. If you want to learn more about how to sand a staircase, this is the article for you.
What is the Best Sander to Use on Stairs?
The first thing you need to understand about sanding stairs is how necessary it is to use an orbital sander. An orbital sander is important for this project because it decreases the likelihood of unwanted scratches occurring during the sanding process. Orbital sanders are not created equal.
The best sander for stairs is a type of orbital sander known as a palm sander. Palm orbital sanders are perfect for this project because they can reach into any corner or crevice. With palm sanders, there are two different sandpaper attachment systems. Also, the loop system keeps the sandpaper secure but requires changing between each round. The clip system is easier to use but less secure.
A detail sander can also be used for stairs, although they tend to be smaller and less powerful machines.
Finally, random orbital sanders are also an option for sanding stairs. This type of sander is powerful but cannot access the crevices and corners of the stairs in the same way that palm sanders can, due to their shape. Random orbital is easy to use because you do not have to pay attention to the wood grain while sanding.
It is important to look for a sander with variable speed. A sander with variable speed allows you to change the intensity of sanding and also gives you control over the process. Sanders with variable speed are sure to give you a great looking finish because you can adjust the speed and the strength.
Best Sander For Stairs Product Reviews
Another point for the brand Makita with this random orbital sander. This sander is unique because it offers variable speed controls. The variable speed control gives the user more control over the tool and allows for a better sanding experience all around.
With a 3 amp motor, it is just as powerful as many of the other sanders on this list. An added bonus with the Makita random orbital sander is that it has an adjustable dust bag, which allows for easy dust removal during your project.
- Variable speed control
- Not as precise as some of its competitors
- Not as well known or reviewed
Best for DIY jobs at home
Though small in size, this sander is big on power with 12000 RPMs and 1.1 amps. This is one of the best sanders for those who enjoy refurbishing furniture, as it is lightweight and works well to get into the small spots that can otherwise be difficult to access.
It is fairly quiet, it is lightweight, and the handle is made of soft rubber, which makes it comfortable to use. When you buy this sander, it comes with 12 sanding pads, and a dust collection system, which helps to keep things as tidy as possible whilst you work.
Yes, this tool from Tacklife is small, but it’s mighty, too, and it can easily get DIY jobs done around the house with little effort.
- Lightweight design that is comfortable to use
- Comes with 12 sanding discs, included in the cost
- Easily fits into corners
- Dust collection system can fail
This sander is one of the most affordable on our list. It has a soft grip and an easy start, and its ergonomic design feels good when holding it when using it.
You can also use this sander for grinding, too, and it is also known for its long service life. It has automatic speed controls, and you can start using it immediately, as it comes with 10 abrasive pads.
- Good choice for affordability
- Low vibration
- Cable clip to keep cords wrapped neatly
- Pads tend to get loose during use
Best For Tough Jobs
When you are looking for a sander, you probably can’t find a better brand than Dewalt. This brand has a reputation in the world of tools, and this one is no exception.
It has a 230 Watt motor, and the sander works at 14,000 orbits per minute. The pads are simple to change, and you can do it very quickly when compared to other tools on our list. It is also easy to hold and use, and the tool has grips on the handle that makes it easy to hold and manoeuver.
This tool also comes with a dust collection bag, which helps to keep things tidy as you sand, and it is tough, too, so it’s a great option for power.
- Built tough and very robust
- Dust collection to keep things neat and tidy
- Powerful motor
- More expensive than other sanders
Best for portability
If you are looking fora great sander that can get any job done, consider this one from Bosch. This brand is well known in the world of tools, and its good reputation extends to this sander.
One of the things that really make this one stick out from the crowd is that it is a cordless sander. Also, it is lightweight and designed to fit easily in the palm of your hand. With a soft, large grip, you can use this device with either one or both hands, and it comes with a lithium-ion battery, which can power it all.
- Ergonomically designed
- Cordless design for portability
- Low vibration for comfort
- The battery can be difficult to remove
Featuring the well-known Bosch microfilter system, this is a good option for people who are looking for a versatile tool that is ready to go right out of the box.
This sander comes with three pads that are easily installed, and you should look for the two piece plate for the pads, which helps to optimise the life of the pads.
The dust-extraction element works well, and the Velcro fastening system for the pads make changing them as easy as it comes.
This tool is great for anyone who is looking for something versatile, which this multi-sander is. It’s good for stairs, but ideal for furniture, including drawers and chairs.
- Micro hook and loop fastening keeps pads on
- Two-piece plate for pads helps them last longer
- Microfilter system to keep dust under control
- Cheap construction causes sander to fall apart after several uses
How to Sand Stairs
What is the Best Way to Sand Your stairs?
Now that you have figured out the perfect sander for your stairs, it is time to learn how to sand stairs properly.
For the initial sanding, we recommend using 80 grit sandpaper on your orbital sander. During the initial sanding process, the goal is to get your stairs to be as evenly sanded as possible. Low grit sandpaper such as 80 grit is the best way to achieve this goal.
During the process, remember to move your hands slowly and try to reach the entire surface area of each stair. This will help you get a smooth, uniform look at each step.
It is important to clean the stairs in between each round of sanding to remove any dust and debris that may collect during the sanding process. The easiest way to clean is to use a tack cloth.
To prepare your stairs for painting, staining, varnishing or whatever you plan to do next, we would recommend that you go over them one more time with higher grit sandpaper. 120 grit sandpaper polishes the job you have already done so far, giving them a more professional finish.
Can you Sand Your Stairs by Hand?
The short answer is yes; yes you can do it by hand. To do this, you can take your own sandpaper and use it in a back and forth motion. The issue is that your arm and hands probably won’t be able to keep up with this for too much longer. There is a better way, however, and that, of course, is to use a palm sander like those we have introduced here.
The truth is, sanding stairs by hand is very time-consuming. There are so many great power tools that do the job for you, which are listed above. Using a palm sander can save you a lot of time and money.
You may find that when you are sanding with the palm sander that you cannot reach certain areas. This is where your hands and a piece of sandpaper may be helpful. You might choose to supplement the work of the orbital sander by using a sponge sander and sanding the nooks and crannies of your stairs by hand. If you chose to do this, be sure to pay attention to the grit of sandpaper you are using and be sure to follow the grain. With this combination of both methods, getting your stairs smooth and ready to paint and varnish is a much easier job.
What is the Best Varnish for Stairs?
After you are finished with the sanding process, it is time to apply a varnish. Using varnish gives your stairs a glossy and protective finish. Varnishing wood steps preserves the natural colour of the wood and keep them looking good throughout the years to come.
We recommend a water-based polyurethane varnish. Water-based polyurethane is the easiest to work with and dries much quicker than oil-based polyurethane. It emits less of an odour, making it a good choice for those of you who are odour sensitive. One of the best qualities that water-based polyurethane offers is its quick-drying ability. You may be applying multiple coats of varnish, and a water-based polyurethane speeds the process along. Another bonus for water-based polyurethane is that it does not turn your wood yellow over time, something oil-based polyurethane is known to do.
When applying the water-based polyurethane to your stairs, use a quality brush, and apply a thin layer starting in one corner and moving to the other. Try to follow the natural grain as best you can. Be sure to go slowly and apply the water-based polyurethane as evenly across the surface as possible because you do not want to end up with any bubbles on your stairs.
Allow the finish to dry completely before you resume sanding it again, lightly, this time using a 220 grit sandpaper. After you sand it, be sure to wipe the dust away using tack cloth and then repeat the varnish process again for three rounds, sanding in between. After the third coat of water-based polyurethane, you do not need to sand the stairs again. Voila, your stairs are complete!
Finding the right tools for your project should not be difficult. Hopefully, this article provided you with some clarity about the best sanders for your steps. If you are curious about where to find these tools as well as the other materials you need to successfully complete this project, they can all be found on Amazon. Happy sanding!
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