Best Sander For Removing Paint From Wood

So you’ve got a do it yourself project and need to remove paint from some wood. Removing paint is easy.  The difficult part is ensuring that you don’t damage the wood when doing it.  This is a near impossible task without the right tools for the job.  No fear… we’re here to discuss exactly that.  Time to talk about the best sander for removing paint from wood.

There are two types of sanders for this job.  They are the random orbital sander and a belt sander.  The belt sander is very aggressive and makes quick work of most sanding jobs.  The random orbital sander is better suited for the majority of wood working projects where you’re removing paint from wood.  

Random orbital sanders are perfect for this task because their vibration and random patterns don’t leave swirls, streaks, or gouges in the wood if used correctly.

We’ve researched and selected only the very best sanders for removing paint from wood to help you out.  Take a look at our selections and reviews below.

man using sander to remove paint from wood door frame

Makita BO5041 Random Orbit Sander

✔ Smooth & fast sanding w/ 3 Amp motor
✔ Variable speed control
✔ Lots of great customer reviews
✔ Dust collection system built-in

Makita BO5041 Review:

Makita has an awesome random orbit sander in the BO5041.  It’s larger 1/8″ random orbit action provides faster sanding and a swirl-free finish.  The built-in variable speed control makes you feel like your in the driver’s seat, always able to control what’s happening.

Customers say that this sander is more comfortable to use than the competition.  The pistol grip and trigger switch make it super-easy to use.  It’s versatile and lightweight, and many say it’s the best sander they’ve ever owned! 

DEWALT 20V MAX Cordless Random Orbit Sander

✔ 20V battery-powered cordless sander
✔ Variable speed control
✔ World-class built and amazing customer feedback

DEWALT DCW210D1 Review:

Like most DEWALT power tools, this cordless random orbit sander has a rugged build that will stand up to almost any job you can throw at it.  We love the cordless option since it makes it easy to work in areas that don’t have easy access to power and you’re not tied to a cord all day.  And, with the 20V MAX battery, you don’t have to worry there’s not enough power.

The feedback from current customers of the DEWALT DCW210D1 is top-notch.  They rave about its compact size and portability, and of course like us, they love that it’s cordless.  You pay a little extra because of the battery, but most say it’s well worth it!

Makita 9403 4″ x 24″ Belt Sander

✔ Makes quick work of any job
✔ Convenient dust collection system
✔ Perfect for larger jobs

Makita 9403 Review:

This large 4″ x 24″ belt sander for Makita is primarily for larger jobs.  You couldn’t use this for removing paint from something small.  This would be used on decking, fences, or a whole house paint removal job.  

This model uses a 4″ wide belt, has a powerful motor, and an efficient dust collection system that conveniently adjusts out of your way during use.  It also features low noise relative to other belt sanders @ 84dB.  Like all the sanders on our list, current customers love this sander!

TackLife 5″ Random Orbital Sander

✔ Variable speed controller (6 speeds)
✔ 12pc sandpaper included
✔ Good price for random orbit sander w/ variable speed

TackLife PRS01A Review:

This random orbit sander by TackLife is a nice little compromise.  It’s a basic sander without a big name brand.  It has variable speed and gets the job done without the high cost of some others.

This could be the perfect sander to remove paint from wood for a hobbyist that isn’t ready to chuck down $100.  There are no extra frills, but that’s not what you care about if you’re looking at this sander.  You want a good value with good options.  This is it!

DEWALT Rolling Tool Box (DWST20880)

✔ Easy to pull / Metal handle
✔ Ball bearing slides for easy opening
✔ More rugged and heavy duty than it looks

DEWALT Rolling Tool Box Review:

This is technically a stackable tool box that has 3 levels of storage that rolls and is portable.  It’s also priced very well and is super-affordable compared to some others on this list… thus we’ve claimed it as our “best value” pick on the list.  The down side?  Well, it’s not modular.  You cannot remove the tool boxes and you cannot move them around or customize the system at all.  See a picture of this tool box when opened.

Is that a big deal?  Probably not, but only you know how you’re going to use your tool boxes.  I personally like the modularity, but then again, I use that feature.  If this setup works for you, you cannot beat the price and the ruggedness of this rolling tool box setup.  It is a great value for your money!

BLACK+DECKER Mouse Detail Sander

✔ Easy to get in tight spaces and corners
✔ Compact, detail sander
✔ Inexpensive sanding option for removing paint


Black and Decker has this great option for sanding in corners and all sorts of tight spaces.  These can be the most difficult areas for removing paint from wood items.  If you have corners, you’ll either need something like this sander, or you’ll have to do that part by hand.

Note, this mouse detail sander by Black and Decker is relatively inexpensive and should be considered in addition to a random orbital sander, not instead of one.

Wagner Spraytech PaintEater

✔ Uses Flex-Discs rather than sandpaper
✔ Very abrasive machine to be used on larger jobs
✔ Rugged and durable

Wagner PaintEater Review:

Wagner’s PaintEater product is so different from the others on this list.  This machine is meant to do one thing, and that’s remove paint.  It can remove paint from wood, concrete, steel, and even masonite siding.  It will NOT double as a sander.

If you choose to go this route, you’ll find that the Flex-Disc system is easy to change out, and ergonomically, it’s easy to use for hours when compared to an orbital sander.  I encourage you to click through to the PaintEater’s product page, and look into it if you have a larger job.

PORTER-CABLE 3″ x 21″ Belt Sander

✔ Belt sander w/ smaller footprint
✔ Variable speed drive
✔ Dust bag swivels 360-degrees for convenience  

Porter-Cable 352VS Review:

This belt sander from PORTER-CABLE has a nice, small footprint and also utilizes the all-important variable speed drive.  Again, belt sanders are only useful on larger jobs that require removing paint from wood.  It’s overkill for smaller jobs.

This sander is another good example of a middle-of-the-road option.  It’s basic yet reliable.  It’s certainly not the most expensive option, but it’s also not cheap.  “Cheap” sanders are not rugged enough to stand up to jobs that require massive paint removal.  It’s not a good idea to buy something like that.


How To Use a Random Orbital Sander To Remove Paint

Never used a random orbital sander before?  Not sure how they work or what to do?  They’re quite easy to use and maneuver around. There are three important things to always remember when using one.

  1. Keep the sander flat on the wood
  2. Let the sander do the work – no need for pressure
  3. If you’re not sure of the correct grit sand paper, start higher than you think

As long as you follow these rules of thumb, you shouldn’t have to worry about damaging the wood.  That is the most important thing!  Beyond that, it’s just about how long the job will take.  

Here’s a short video demonstrating exactly how to hold and use such a sander for removing paint from wood.

YouTube video

When To Use a Different Sander to Remove Paint From Wood

While a random orbital sander is usually the best tool for this job, there are times when it would not be appropriate.  There are a few that come to mind… 

Removing Paint From Wood Siding, Fencing, or a Deck

These jobs are too large for a random orbital sander.  Often times these are perfect jobs for a belt sander.  It’s a more aggressive tool that will help you complete these large jobs much quicker.  They’re also less fragile jobs than working with old furniture and other wooden items that are much too delicate for a belt sander.  One quick note:  If you’re removing paint from wood siding on an old house, consider that it may be lead-based paint and always wear the correct PPE for such a job.

Removing Paint From Corners

There is one inherent flaw to the random orbital sander, and that’s the round sanding pad.  It’s a plus 95% of the time, but it makes getting into corners impossible.  This is where a sander like the Black + Decker Mouse Detail Sander comes into play.  These compact sanders are cheap, easy to use, and serve one purpose… doing small detail work and getting into corners and other hard-to-reach spots!

Mouse detail sander getting into tight corner

Tiny Woodworking Jobs

Not all paint removal from wood actually calls for a powered sander.  Sometimes on very delicate or small jobs, it’s better to just use a little bit of good old fashioned “elbow grease” to get the job done.  Cut yourself a small piece of fine grit sandpaper and very lightly rub it on the work piece until the paint is removed and surface is smooth for refinishing, or whatever it is you need to do next.

Best Sandpaper for Removing Paint From Wood

Now that you know what sander you need, the next question will certainly be “what’s the best sandpaper for removing paint from wood?”  There are really two questions to consider however.  The first is what grit sandpaper you need to remove paint from wood, and the second is what which actual sandpaper to use.  We’ll cover both…

Selecting the Best Sandpaper Grit For Removing Paint

This is where being careful that you only remove the paint and not any of the wood material comes into play.  Sandpaper grit use a lower number for more course material and a higher number for finer paper, meaning that a lower number removes more material.  We don’t want to remove the wood, just the the paint, so it’s better to start higher and work our way to the correct grit so we do no harm.

wood sandpaper grit chart

The above is an example of a sandpaper grit selection chart.  We’d suggest starting a couple grits above the chart’s recommendation to get started.  Bob Villa also has some tips and tricks for selecting the right sandpaper grit.  You’ll get the feel for what you need after tackling this job a few times.

What Type of Sandpaper To Use

The actual type and shape of sandpaper that you’ll use for removing paint from wood will correspond to the type of sander you’re using.  Since we most often recommend using a 5″ random orbital sander, we feel the sandpaper below is your best option.  

WORKPRO 150pc 5″ Variety Pack Sandpaper Pack

best sandpaper for removing paint from wood

This variety pack of sanding discs provides you with all the multi-grit sandpaper you need to tackle almost any job.  It comes with 150-pieces in total including 10 different grits from 60 grit to 600 grit.  The 5″ discs provide a wide range of compatibility and are a universal fit to most 5″ orbital sanders.

Of course if you’re planning to use a belt sander or mouse detail sander, you’ll need to purchase a pack slightly different since the sandpaper shown above is specifically for a 5″ orbital sander.  

If you’re looking for something similar, they are available.  Here are some links for you…

Mouse Detail Sander – Mouse Detail Sander Sandpaper 50pc Variety Pack

Belt Sander – Belt Sander Sanding Belts 24pc Variety Pack