6 Best Sander For Stairs

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.

Best Sanders In This Review

  1. Makita 5-Inch Random Orbit Sander Kit [ Best Overall ]
  2. Enertwist Mouse Detail Sander [ Best Budget ]
  3. BLACK+DECKER Mouse Detail Sander [ Best For Small Detail Spaces ]
  4. DEWALT Random Orbit Sander
  5. DEWALT Palm Sander
  6. TECCPO Mouse Detail Sander

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.

Makita 5-Inch Random Orbit Sander Kit

Best Overall

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.

  • Voltage: 120 Volts
  • Amperage: ‎3 Amps
  • Variable Speed: 4,000 – 12,000 OPM
  • Includes: Dust Bag and Tool Case
  • Warranty: 1 Year

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Enertwist Mouse Detail Sander

Best Budget

The EnerTwist ET-DS-100 is a powerful yet portable electric mouse detail sander from EnerTwist that offers several unique features.

The unit has an on/off switch that extends the tool life while also making it quieter than conventional units.

A finger hook is attached to the bottom of the base and this allows you to hold the unit in place while sanding small areas. Six holes are positioned at specific locations around the pad to allow air to pass through, while keeping the sanding surface dry and reducing the build up of dust. 

  • Voltage: 120V~ 60Hz
  • Amperage: 0.8A
  • Speed (no load): 13, 000 OPM
  • Sanding pad size: 5-1/4″x 3-1/2“
  • Weight: 1 lb 12 oz (0.78 Kg)

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BLACK+DECKER Mouse Detail Sander

Best For Small Detail Spaces

The BLACK+DECKER MOUSE Detail Sander is designed to get into tight spaces and maximize user control in many applications, including light touchup. The compact size is also great for working on the smallest surfaces, like tabletops or shelves.

Its 1.2amp motor makes sanding easier and faster, and the detail finger attachment makes sanding hard to reach spots fast and easy. And with high-performance dust collection with micro-filtration, the workplace is clean and dry while you work.

You can also move the machine over a piece of paper or material and watch it collect dust and debris as it passes through a micro-filtration system. The included detail finger attachment helps to make this the perfect accessory for cleaning, repairing, recoating, and re-painting, especially when you’re working on small surfaces.

The hook and loop system on the body is designed to help attach and detach accessories quickly and easily without the need for tools.

  • 3 Position Grip
  • Compact Size
  • Detail Finger Attachment
  • Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Amperage: 1.2 Amps
  • Speed: 14,000 OPM
  • Warranty: 2 year limited manufaturers warranty

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DEWALT Random Orbit Sander

DEWALT’s DWS6421 is a 5-inch model that includes a counterweight design for increased stability and better control. The new sander’s powerful motor rotates the pad at a rate of 12,000 OPM. That speed and weight distribution allows for smooth, steady sanding, while reducing vibration for greater comfort.

Improved dust-sealed switch to protect against dust ingestion for longer switch life. Includes dust collection and one-handed locking dust bag.

The dust-sealed switch has been improved to protect against dust ingestion. A one-handed locking dust bag and a dust collection are included.

  • Weight: ‎3.4 pounds
  • Amperage: ‎3 Amps
  • Speed: 12,000 OPM
  • Warranty: ‎3 year limited warranty

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DEWALT Palm Sander, 1/4 Sheet

The DEWALT Palm Sander is powered by an 2.3 Amp Motor of the electric sander sands at 14,000 OPM and operates at a speed of 14,000 strokes per minute (opm).

It features a Rubber Overmold Textured Grip Handle that provides a comfortable control while sanding and a 1/4 Sheet Sand Paper Clamp that offers better paper retention to the user for greater precision and consistency when using their sand paper.

This Sander comes with a locking dust port system to help keep the sander from sucking up dust and debris while in use. The sander also comes with a rubber dust boot over the switch to protect against dust ingestion for longer switch life and a Foam Pad for flatter sanding plane.

  • Weight: ‎2.8 pounds
  • Amperage: 2.‎3 Amps
  • Speed: 14,000 OPM
  • Warranty: ‎3 year limited warranty

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TECCPO Mouse Detail Sander

Powerful and steady, the TECCPO mouse sander is suitable for sanding with fine grains. With its Compact Size and Mouse Head Design. Ergonomic handle covered with soft rubber makes this hand sander comfortable to hold.

Compact and lightweight design prevent fatigue in prolonged sanding. Great tool for home decoration and woodworking projects. Reusable dust bag keeps the work area clean.

Ergonomic handle covered with soft rubber makes this hand sander comfortable to hold.

  • Weight: ‎2.61 pounds
  • Speed: 14,000 OPM
  • 2-years satisfaction quality promise

More Info On Amazon

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 a tack cloth and then repeat the varnish process 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 complete this project, they can all be found on Amazon. Happy sanding!

This is also available in: UK

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