If you’re a DIY enthusiast, then you know how rewarding it can be to finish a big job that would have cost a bunch of money to hire a professional to do. While the work can be tedious and tiring, knowing that you did it yourself is far more rewarding than shelling out cash to pay someone else.
One of the most time-consuming jobs you have to do is sanding wood. Whether you’re building a treehouse or finishing your deck, sanding is something that no one likes to do, but it’s a necessary evil. Fortunately, there are plenty of power sanders out there that can help you do the job in far less time than you think.
Today we’ll be going over sanders that are ideal for deck finishing. If you’ve never done this type of work before, you might be a bit lost as to where to start. While we aren’t going to dive into the entire process, we’ll show you what to look for in a power sander as well as how to make sure that you’re getting the right one for your job. It may be a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it, right? Might as well be you.
Random Orbit Sander
Random Orbit Sander
Random Orbit Sander
As far as power sanders go, there are several varieties that you can use for your deck. They are belt sanders, orbital sanders, random orbit sanders, and floor sanders. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each.
This option is great if you have to remove paint or varnish from your current deck. These devices are built for fast and efficient removal but not much beyond that. If you are trying to polish your wood or make it soft, then you don’t want to use a belt sander. As far as decks go, this model will only be necessary if you’re stripping the wood before finishing it.
This type of model is almost the opposite of a belt sander. It’s not ideal for removing paint or varnish, but it excels at smoothing out edges and small surfaces. Due to the size of orbital sanders, we don’t recommend them for decks unless you have some ornate woodwork that needs a delicate touch.
At first glance, you may think that this is the same as an orbital sander, but you’d be wrong. This model uses a round pad instead of a square one, and it is far more versatile. These sanders are great for removal, smoothing, and polishing. As long as you have the right pad, you can do almost anything with this machine. We recommend this for most deck jobs as it will allow you to do more with your surfaces than a standard belt sander.
Unless your deck is huge and will take forever and a day to strip clean with a belt sander, we don’t recommend using this model. It’s unwieldy, and you usually have to rent this machine as it doesn’t make sense to buy it for DIY projects. Leave this to the professionals.
So, as you can see, the best units for deck finishing are belt and random orbit sanders, which is what we are going to look at today.
When looking at the size of a sander, you are basing it off of the pad rather than the model itself. Most sanders will be measured in inches, meaning that the wider it is, the more surface area you can cover. With random orbit sanders, it can be hard to get into corners, so keep that in mind when buying one. As for belt sanders, they are usually bigger and heavier, so plan to get a workout when using it over long periods.
An excellent way to know how strong your sander will be is to measure the size of the motor. For handheld models like the ones we are going to look at, the motor will be measured in amps, rather than watts or volts. For a big job like a deck, we recommend at least three amps. Any less than that and you’ll be working overtime to get the work done.
Finally, the speed of your sander will also help determine how fast you can finish the job. Because there are different surfaces on your deck, we highly recommend buying a sander with variable speed adjustment so that you can customize your performance based on your location. For the floor of the deck, you will want to operate at a higher speed, but for the banisters, you will need to ramp it down. You could go with a single speed model (they are usually cheaper), but you run the risk of damaging your wood if you aren’t careful. Don’t take that chance if you don’t have to.
As far as power tool brands go, Makita is one of the most highly respected in the industry. This random orbit sander is a fantastic tool for any woodworking projects, not just deck refinishing, so we highly recommend this product if you plan on doing a lot of carpentry overall. Even if you get it solely for your deck, it will let you work quickly and efficiently.
The power of this sander is remarkable with a 3.0 amp motor and a variable speed adjustment that goes from 4,000 to 12,000 opm (orbits per minute) with the click of a button. The great thing about random orbit sanders is that they don’t leave any swirl marks, meaning that you can go at top speed and not have to worry about causing damage to your wood.
Other features that we like about this sander are the vacuum-sealed dust collection system, the soft start for easier control, and a dust-sealed switch to protect against internal damage. Also, the design of this model is both ergonomic and comfortable, allowing you to work longer without having to take breaks. Finally, it comes with a sturdy plastic carrying case so that you can transport it without any problems.
If you are working on a large deck surface, then you will want something with the size and power to help you get the job done as efficiently as possible. With that in mind, the Bosch 1250DEVS is a great option as it has a much more powerful motor and a larger surface area to help you get through the big patches of wood in less time. In fact, this motor is more than twice as robust as the Makita above, making this a formidable addition to your tool belt.
What we like about this sander is that it offers variable sanding modes to help you adjust to whatever surface you’re working on at any given point. A turbo mode helps you remove varnish or paint, while a soft mode allows you to polish or buff areas that need more care and attention. The variable speeds go from 3,100 to 6,650 opm. Having a larger pad size means that you don’t need as many rotations to get the same results, meaning that you should be able to get your work done much faster than with a smaller model.
Finally, we like the balance and handling of this sander. Although it’s bigger and bulkier than other units, it’s perfectly weighted to give you better comfort and performance overall. Plus, the handle is rubber coated to reduce fatigue while you work.
As far as power tools go, one of our favorite brands is DeWalt. This random orbit sander is another versatile and handy device that can not only help you with your deck but any other woodworking projects you may encounter. In fact, this sander is so good at what it does that you may start working with wood more often as an excuse to use this tool.
What we like about this model is that it is compact and easy to manage.
Some orbit sanders have a bulky design which means that you have to exert more on your grip, thus leading to soreness and fatigue. With this unit, however, you can work longer without any interruption.
A 3.0 amp motor powers this machine and allows you to go from 8,000 to 12,000 opm within seconds. The switch is also dust-sealed to maximize its shelf life and keep the internal components intact. Speaking of dust, this system comes with a dust collector and allows you to hook up to a vacuum for better cleanup results.
Finally, this sander comes with a three-year warranty and a canvas bag for easy transportation. The only thing that it’s missing is a set of sanding pads to help you get started.
Next, we have another model from Makita. However, instead of a random orbit sander, this is a belt sander. As we mentioned above, this type of unit is ideal for removing varnish or paint, so if your deck needs to be scrubbed clean, this will be a great product to get.
The size and power of this sander are more than enough to get the job done quickly and efficiently.
When looking at belt sanders, you will notice that the speed settings are listed by foot, rather than rotations. Because the sander uses a belt instead of a pad, the speed is determined by how many feet it covers in a minute. In this case, you can go from 690 to 1,440 feet per minute with a flip of a switch.
Another thing to watch out for with belt sanders is that they can shift while you work, meaning that the belt might come loose. To prevent that from happening, this model comes with an automatic tracking system that keeps it centered as you move.
Finally, the other feature that we like about this sander is the extra long power cord. Usually, sanders will keep you limited to how far you can go, but this model has sixteen feet of space so that you don’t have to rely on extension cords to get into the far reaches of your deck space.
Our final stop is the Ridgid ZRR2601 Random Orbit Sander. This is another high-quality model that can be used for stripping, buffing, and polishing, making it a versatile part of your deck job.
The 3.0 amp motor powers this sander allowing you to go from 7,000 to 12,000 opm within a matter of seconds, and it also comes with an AirGuard dust collection system to keep your surfaces clean while you work.
The other thing we like about this sander is that it has a soft start for better handling and it has an ergonomic grip to reduce fatigue. Overall, this is a great model for any woodworking projects you may have.
When comparing these different sanders, it’s hard to pick one that stands out above the rest. If you are in need of a belt sander, then obviously the Makita 9404 Model will be your best option, but as far as random orbit sanders go, we have to go with the DeWalt unit. This model has the best features and performance of anything else we’ve seen, and we love the fact that it comes with a three-year warranty as well.
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