What Is The Best Sander For Deck Refinishing? What is the best sander to get your wood deck in tip-top shape?

Power tools like sanders are a necessity for all those that love DIY’ing. This device is perfect for sanding many wooden items. However, one object that is constantly brought up with the topic of sanding is a deck. Decks are brilliant for adding natural beauty to your home. These decks are usually built with treated wood, which aids in durability. Nevertheless, a good deck takes a substantial amount of maintenance. This can become quite costly, and a way to reduce these expenses is to do it all yourself. To do this, you need a good quality sander.

We have searched far and wide to provide you with the best information which can be used to keep your deck looking brand new. We have also included our picks of the best sanders specifically designed for sanding decks to help you find the perfect sander.

Does Your Deck Require Sanding?

When tackling a deck refinishing project, you more than likely have to perform a little deck sanding. This is especially the case if it’s been a while since you treated or resealed your wood in any way.

In a few cases, you may find yourself lucky and some of your deck boards are in decent condition. This limits the amount of sanding time you spend on your deck. Make sure to properly inspect these boards, as you don’t want to invest in a sander that you don’t need.

More steps that follow in the deck refinishing process include analyzing the wooden deck for any damage, and performing the necessary repairs if damage is present. It’s highly recommended to never conduct a deck refinishing with loose or damaged deck boards. You are just making more work for yourself, as you still need to fix these wooden boards anyway.

Types Of Deck Sanders:

There are a variety of different deck sanders on the market today. This would be a very long list if we included all of them. Instead, to save you time, we have only included those that are deemed as the most versatile and best quality.

Sheet Sander:

The sheet sander is specifically designed to sand flat surface areas. For this reason, the sander works wonders on decks. The sander is equipped to fit a 9×11-inch piece of sandpaper, which is held in place by the two spring clamps and flattened square pad. This sander effectively sands down surfaces by the tiny orbital vibrations that the sander’s pad provides. A great feature about this sander is that it can sand the wood deck in any direction, as the vibrations are tiny orbits.

Belt Sander:

A belt sander is an electric device that’s equipped with an abrasive-coated belt. The sander is designed with two cylindrical drums that the abrasive belt is mounted on. It’s also equipped with an electric motor that’s used to rotate the cylindrical drums. Due to the mechanisms of the belt sander, you’re able to sand, trim, or level flat and round surface areas. This makes the belt sander an excellent option as a sander for refinishing wood.

Commercial Wood Floor Sander:

An orbital or drum sander is used for sanding larger wooden decks. These sanders can usually be rented out from local rental outlets. Sanders that are commercially designed, such as a drum sander are the best options if you’re looking to sand hardwood floors. In saying this, these devices are also very effective when sanding wooden decks.

One of the reasons as to why an orbital and drum sander are so effective is because these produce substantial vibration. These machines can also weigh upwards to 100 pounds, which can make it difficult to transport. However, these are a great tool if you wish to sand areas that aren’t cupped or warped. It’s also important to note that a drum sander is extremely powerful. The drum sander has a very high working rate and can cause damage to household decks when in the hands of a beginner.

Random Orbit Sander:

A random orbit sander is designed with round sanding pads. This feature helps make the random orbit sander portable and one of the most versatile sanders. The round pads produce two different movements. It’s able to vibrate in tiny circles, while revolving in a circular motion. These simultaneously movements being conducted by the random orbit sander prevent swirls from appearing on the wood. This is an appearance that most sanders leave behind on the newly-sanded wood. However, the random orbit sander helps make the wood look more polished.

What Sander Should You Use For Deck Restoration?

Majority of the wood used to build decks are softer-type woods. These types of wood are more prone to hold sanding patterns and being gorged. For this reason, it would be advantageous to use an oscillating or orbital deck sander. The advantage of using this kind of sander for deck refinishing is that fewer marks are left on the surface. Moreover, these sanders for deck refinishing are easy to control.

Random orbital sanders are an option, but there is a problem that comes with using these types of sanders. It takes longer to sand the entire surface of the deck. That’s why woodworkers usually prefer working with a belt sander for deck refinishing over a random orbit sander.

The best sander for a deck is a belt sander. This tool provides more sandpaper contact. More of this particular contact helps remove materials and ensure an even surface. The beauty about a belt sander is that its relatively straightforward to learn how to operate properly.

What Sandpaper Should You Use?

There are so many different types of sandpaper that you can use when sanding a wooden deck. However, not all of them work as effectively.

The first thing you should look out for is sandpaper that’s specifically designed to be used on wooden surfaces. You can find this information on the package of the sandpaper. This type of sandpaper usually uses natural abrasives to work against removing material.

Another feature that makes up a sandpaper is the number of grits. The grit number is dependent on the state of wood you’re working and end-goal you wish to receive. Starting with a grit number of 80 helps to remove materials quickly and effectively while cleaning up rough spots. The end result of using this grit is an even surface.

After this step, you may decide you want a smooth surface. You may also want to knock down a few rough sections that weren’t eliminated in the 80-grit sanding. An added benefit of using 150-grit sandpaper is that it aids in opening up the wood pores. This allows the wood to accept a larger variety of protective coatings such as varnishes.

What Do You Need To Consider?

You are going to want to sand your deck when it’s dry. It’s imperative that the wood stays completely dry throughout the entire process. For this reason, you should plan to tackle this project when you know that there isn’t any bad weather coming your way.

However, don’t fear if you do get surprised by a rainy or stormy day. All your hard work hasn’t gone down the drain. Everything should be fine as long as you wait for the wood to completely dry before continuing with your project. You want to avoid sanding down wood that’s damp, or even slightly moist.

Safety Precautions To Remember

The same safety precautions you use when working on any small wooden projects should apply when conducting a deck refinishing. Just because you’re outside doesn’t mean that some of these features don’t have an effect.

A large volume of dust is generated from a deck refinishing and is likely to irritate your lungs and eyes. Along with this, chemical treatments are done to outdoor decks. This chemical treatment helps the deck withstand the environmental elements faced from being outside.

These chemicals are presented in the dust after using a sander. For this reason, protective gear (such as respirator or dust mask and eye protective wear) should be worn, as you want to prevent these chemicals from entering your eyes or your chest cavity.

Hearing protection is also highly recommended to be worn, as you are going to be using a sander for a long period. A large amount of noise can be generated from using these sanders, especially belt sanders. Lastly, knee pads are also a great item to wear. These can help prevent your knees from getting sore as you work your way across from one side of the deck to the other.

How Can You Keep Your Deck Healthy And Looking Great?

Woodworking implies a lot more than just sanding wood. There are a variety of different factors that play a role in making your deck look healthy and encourage longevity. It’s undeniable that sanding is a crucial part in the upkeep of a deck. However, there are also other practices that can be put in place to promote your deck to look healthier.

Sand After Power Washing

Cleaning the deck surface with a power washer is a great process that should be included in your deck refinishing routine. This helps to remove little areas with stains or built-up dirt that has accumulated since your last power wash.

Another benefit of using a power washer on a deck is that water is pushed into the wood. This process causes wood grain to inflate. Sanding after power washing allows you to knock down this raised grain, which returns the surface back to a smoother texture. However, keep in mind that you need to wait for the wood to dry after doing a power wash on the deck or else the sanding won’t be done effectively.

Sanding Before Performing A Complete Refinish

You may want to entirely refinish your deck every few years or so. The amount of years between each refinish is dependent on how many coats is applied and how much wear the deck receives throughout this period. When the time comes to tackle a complete deck refinishing, you’re going to want to power wash your entire deck thoroughly and wait for it to dry.

Once the deck surface is completely bone dry, you should start sanding off the top layer of protective coating applied from the last refinishing session. You can also pay special attention to areas in the deck that have gotten stains, or where wood has split.

After sanding, you should be left with a smooth wood grain. There shouldn’t be any protective coating left, as you want the wood grain to be exposed. This ensures that the protective coating (wood stain and sealing agent) placed on the wood gets absorbed effectively, and the wood can receive all the benefits of the treatment.

Our Buyer’s Guide For Decking Sanders:

Refinishing a deck is a significant process and it takes a lot of time and effort to get it done effectively. That’s why you want to be prepared with the right equipment that can help you get the job done well. You don’t want to waste your labor and time on a project if you don’t have the correct tools. Here are all the things you need to take into account when going shopping for sanders for deck refinishing.

Sanding Area:

You already know where you’re going to be sanding (the deck), but the real question is what kind of deck is it that you’re working with. You need a versatile sander if your deck has corners or variable surfaces. This type of sander can effectively smooth your wood deck and surrounding areas without needing a variety of different tools.

Nonetheless, a versatile sander isn’t the answer if you find that your wooden surface is flat. If this is the case, then you’re looking for sanders with power and speed. These are the best sanders to get the job done efficiently.

Type Of Sander:

Since you’re working on a deck, we suggest choosing a belt sander. These types of sanders for decking are perfect as you want something that’s going to get through the refinishing in a speedy and powerful manner.

Orbital sanders may seem like the right choice because of its attractiveness. However, these kinds of sanders are designed for control and precision. Due to this, these sanders lack the ability and power to cover large areas, such as a deck, in a short amount of time.

Power Input:

There are two different types of deck sanders. These are battery operated and wired. Wired deck sanders are recommended over battery operated ones when looking at sanding the surface area of a deck.

These wired sanders can be in use for a longer period than battery operated ones. You want to prevent having to stop and change the batteries because the sander doesn’t have enough power to finish the job.

Nonetheless, if you’re faced with only battery operated options, you should look at getting a sander that requires Lithuanian-ion batteries.


It’s not necessary to fork out a large sum of money to acquire a good quality sander. You can get a decent model that doesn’t break the bank. This is if your only purpose with the sander is to use it on your deck. You can do this by researching the features it has and compare it against prices.

Only using it for one purpose makes it cheaper because you don’t need a variety of different features to fit vast scenarios. For example, you don’t need features like precision. Instead, focus on features like power and speed.

Dust Collection:

We’ve already discovered that sanding an entire deck is a big job. Therefore, this sanding of such a large surface area produces a load of dust. That’s why a dust collection system should be essential when trying to purchase the best sander for deck refinishing. Even though eye and face protection is going to be worn, dust collection is still very much necessary not to mention, it’s extremely convenient.

The purpose of a dust collection system is to stop dust from flying all over the show. This is done with collection attachments, such as a dust bag or compartment to hook up a vacuum cleaner to suck the dust out. A collection feature helps in eliminating some of the dust particles from your immediate environment. Having this can aid in making the overall experience more pleasant and less messy.

Speed Settings:

When you begin your sanding project, you may find that you want a lightning fast speed. However, once you have gotten the top layer off and you start to tire, you may want a variable speed instead. The use of variable speed helps you to address different issues that you come across throughout the entire deck.

Having these different settings can be very useful. For example, you may have a railing or other features present across your deck. This requires extra care, and would be the time to use the multiple settings and choose a slower pace.

Noise Level:

It’s a common misconception that sanders are quiet power tools. Some sanders for deck refinishing can be quiet, but others aren’t. There are two ways around this problem.

The first solution would be to invest in good quality ear protection. However, you can’t just purchase it for this device to prevent damage to your ears. You physically need to wear it. If this could potentially be uncomfortable for you, then option two may be better suited.

The final solution would be to make sure that you buy a sander that is equipped with a low-decibel feature. This is a great option if you don’t wish to wear protective ear gear, or if you don’t want any angry neighbors.

What Are Some Tips For Sanding A Wooden Deck?

Sanding a deck may seem relatively straightforward. You are soon going to find out that everything isn’t as it seems to be. However, there are a few tips and tricks that you can use to make the process a lot smoother. These tips can also prevent you causing any damage to your wooden deck.

Be Careful When You’re Pressure Washing:

As we mentioned before, the first step to refinishing your deck is to give it a good wash with a power washer. Most decks are made with soft wood. In some cases, this wood can be softer than ones usually used. If your deck is made from wood like pine, cedar, or spruce, you need to use a wide wand and decide on a suitable distance between the surface and wand.

We suggest finding a hidden area of your deck and testing out the distance and wand pressure. You should stop immediately if you notice that the wood fibers are lifting while you’re washing the area. You should also adjust the settings to find a suitable pressure.

Prepare The Surface:

Before starting the process of sanding the deck, you should inspect the area for nails and screws. Take a nail punch and countersink all of the screws and nails that you find. Not doing this can damage your sander.

Sanding The Railing:

One of the most important parts of sanding a deck is making sure that the railings are properly done. It’s vital that you sand the railing evenly. This is because the railing is one of the most looked-at areas on the deck. Doing a poor job of sanding the railings gives the impression that the whole sanding job was done poorly.

Another reason is because not doing the job correctly can lead to splinters being presented. You don’t want the risk of splinters going into your hand or other body parts. You can prevent this by thoroughly sanding the railing with your deck sander.

We recommend using sandpaper with a grit of 80 to 100, as this works best for refining. However, don’t make the area too smooth, or else the stain won’t be able to penetrate. You can use sandpaper manually by using your hand to get to places that your deck sander can’t reach.

What Are The Best Sanders For Deck Refinishing?

There are a variety of sanding deck tools available on the market. This can make picking the right one very challenging. We’re here to give you a helping hand. That’s why we’ve hand-picked the following and deemed them a few of the best sanders.

Makita 9403 Belt Sander 

The Makita 9403 is an excellent belt sander and is perfectly equipped to effectively sand your wooden deck area. It’s one of the faster belt sanders and is extremely easy to control. This feature makes the Makita 9403 great for those that are new to sanding. Nonetheless, it also works for those that are more experienced in woodwork.

However, the Makita 9403 belt sander weighs 13 pounds which gives your hand a lot of work as it’s a heavy load to carry. This is especially the case for long periods needed to sand a deck area.

Makita 9403 has a sanding belt that’s equipped with an inch belt width of four inches and works at a pace of 1,640 feet per minute. A major drawback about the Makita 9403 is the price. Professionals aren’t likely to find this price tag a turn off. However, those that are buying this belt sander for a one-time project may want to search for a more budget-friendly one.

The Makita 9403 is built with a dust collection system that has a dust bag which swivels at 360 degrees. It can stop all the particles that are likely to bug you while you work.


·        Quiet (only 84 decibels)

·        Powerful and fast

·        Wide belt


·        Hefty price tag

·        Heavy build

DEWALT DWE6423K Random Orbit Sander

This random orbit sander is the perfect option for those that are looking to conduct weekend work or one-time jobs occasionally. The random orbital sander is equipped with a three amp motor. Due to this, it features immense power and can work on almost every surface that it comes into contact with.

The DEWALT deck sander is equipped with effective dust collection tools that help capture fine dust particles. Added to this, it’s incredibly cost effective and time-saving. Sanding specific areas is easily achieved with the variable speed feature. The sander has the ability to change from 8,000 to 10,000 orbits per minute. You’re able to spend more time relaxing outside on your newly-sanded deck than actually sanding it.


·        Reduced vibration

·        Powerful

·        Variable speed feature


·        Difficulty attaching the dust collection feature with the external vacuum.

SKIL 7510-01 Sandcat Belt Sander

The SKIL belt sander provides the best value for money. This deck sander is equipped to produce great performance and is equipped with a 3-by-18 inch belt. The wide belt feature makes this belt sander one of the best, and works wonders on a wood deck.

Moreover, the belt sander is designed with a powerful six amp motor. Your hand isn’t put under too much pressure because of the pressure-control feedback system. This sanding belt has the ability to monitor the sanding pressure, which eliminates the need to apply a ton of pressure while using the sander.

Dust collection is made possible through a micro-filtration mechanism. It allows even the smallest of dust particles to be captured, which leaves you to work in a healthier environment.


·        Pressure control system

·        Powerful

·        Cost effective


·        Dust collector isn’t as effective as other sanders

PORTER-CABLE 352VS Variable-Speed Belt Sander

The PORTER includes a nine amp motor in its design. This amp motor classifies this belt sander as an industrial standard power tool and aids in producing the best power. You don’t need to worry about the incredibly large mess made from sanding your deck, as this belt sander is equipped with a huge dust bag.

The dust bag can swivel to 360 degrees. This provides you with the ability to move it if it gets in your way while sanding. The manufactures of the PORTER-CABLE belt sander are so confident in this sanding belt product that a three year warranty has been provided. This gives you peace of mind in knowing that you can replace your belt sander with a new one or get it replaced without having to spend money.


·        Budget-friendly

·        Speed control feature

·        Metal housing

·        Dust bag included


·        Cord placement is incorrect

Hitachi SB8V2 Variable Speed Belt Sander 

The Hitachi SB8V2 is one of the best belt sanders out there that’s available at a fantastic price. It’s built in such a way that you can easily carry it anywhere, while needing little effort to control it effectively. One feature that separates the sander from most belt sanders is that it’s equipped with a water-resistant V-belt. This is one of the best belts as its capability to handle wear and tear is incredible.

Another feature that makes this belt sander one of the best is its unique front tracking window. This provides you with clear visibility while you’re in the process of sanding. Hitachi also gives users a five-year warranty upon purchasing this sander. However, the design of this sander is best known for its durability. For this reason, don’t expect to use the warranty as your sander is likely going to stay in its best form and won’t need any repairing or replacing.


·        High-end value at the best price

·        Durable

·        Cost effective


·        Additional purchase of sanding belt needed

·        Small-sized sanding sheet


There are a number of things to consider when purchasing a sander that’s specific reason for purchase is to refinish wood. One main factor to consider is how powerful the sander is. Added to this you want a sander that has a variable speed feature, so you can sand different areas appropriately. Finally, the price is also a major element. You don’t want to spend a ton of money on an object you’re going to use occasionally to perform a refinishing on wooden objects.

An effective sander is needed to sand your deck. Luckily, all of the above mentioned sanders are guaranteed to provide you with the ability to successfully refinish your outdoor wooden objects. The way in which you go about sanding your deck is also very important. That’s why following our tips and tricks is highly recommended. We hope we’ve sparked some inspiration to get you out there, giving your deck some love and making it look brand new.

My father is a practical engineer, and as a hobby he was also involved in construction, renovations, carpentry and woodwork at home; So there was always tools, saws, drills and more at home. Already I was a little kid Dad and I would renovate the house. Once we built a shed for garden tools, once we did flooring for the garden, once we renovated the bathroom and that’s the way it is. Long before there was an internet, directories and plans. We would build things, kitchen cabinets, install electrical appliances, do flooring, pour concrete and more ... I in this blog want to pass on to you the experience I have gained over the last 20 plus-minus years since I was a child to this day and give you information about the best tools, project plans, guides and more.

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