You may be redoing your deck to give your house a quick upgrade. Or you may be looking into power washing your deck to keep it looking new. Whatever the job may be, you will most likely need a sander. Power washing leaves your deck with raised wood and bumps. These look uneven and can cause splinters. Sanding your deck is what gives you a smooth, perfect finish. You could sand your deck right before refinishing it as well. Sanding requires a balanced pressure to give you an even finish. Otherwise, the tint or polish can have irregular patches. If you are confused about which sander best suits your needs, we have you covered. Read on to find the best sander for a deck that you can get.
Types of Sanders for Decks
As the name suggests, floor sanders are usually used on wooden floors. These types of sanders are pretty big in size. They could be used to sand decks if you’re in a pinch. But, the large size of floor sanders makes them difficult to control. This also means that you will not be able to apply even pressure. It is important to sand the deck evenly so you can spread the tint smoothly on it. If you lose control of this device it could do further damage to the deck. This can end up being more expensive in the long run.
Belt sanders are the most widely used type of sanders. It has a long strip of sandpaper looped around two drums. The rotating of these drums causes the sandpaper to move around, like a conveyor belt. Thus, the name. You must hold the sander in a balanced and even manner for smooth results. Belt sanders come in various sizes. Sanding a deck will require a heavy-duty belt sander.
Random orbital sanders are also commonly used for projects. They consist of a piece of round or square sandpaper that sands in circular motions. They are basically a smaller version of floor sanders. Due to the smaller size, you have much better control over its motion. But, you need to work swiftly with an orbital sander. Holding it too long in one spot can leave circular marks on the wood. These marks usually prove to be difficult to buff out.
Detail sanders are much smaller. They are usually triangular and have a narrow front. While it’s inefficient to use them on a deck, they are great for smaller areas. Railings, stairs on the deck, balusters, etc., can be sanded using a detail sander. This is a great option, as any other sander may be too big for such areas. Without a detail sander, you would have to sand smaller spots by hand.
6 best sander for a deck: Reviewed
The Makita 9403 is our pick for the best deck sander for more than one reason. At 84 decibels, this sander is incredibly quiet. Along with being gentle on the ears, it also provides great speed. The 4×24 inches sanding belt rotates at a speed of 1640 feet per minute (FPM). This is due to the powerful 11-amp motor that it runs on. Lastly, it comes with a sizeable dust bag to make cleaning up easy! This is your best bet, especially if you have a larger deck.
- Weight – 13 pounds
- Dimensions (inches) – 9 x 16.1 x 9.76
- Amps/volts – 11 amps
- Speed (FPM/OPM) – 1,640 FPM
- Grit – 80
- Extremely quiet
- Powerful motor
- Great speed
- Huge dust bag
- Quite expensive
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This orbital sander packs a punch at a very low price. The 12000 orbits per minute (OPM) at this price range is unmatched. Along with which you have a 2-amp motor as well. This lets you get the job done easily without burning through your wallet. This small sander is the best at a lower budget.
- Weight – 3.16
- Dimensions (inches) – 7 x 5 x 6
- Amps/volts – 2 apms
- Speed (FPM/OPM) – 12000
- Grit – Unspecified
- Easy-to-hold ergonomic handle
- Small body adds to versatility
- Provides dust collection
- Not as durable as other models
- Takes longer to sand larger areas due to small size
This highly adaptable model provides a maximum output of 20V. Since it runs on a battery, it does not have to be plugged in for use. One of the advantages of this sander is its adjustable speed. You can shift between 8000 and 12000 OPM to suit your needs. The model runs on a lithium-ion battery. But, this needs to be bought separately.
- Weight – 2.56
- Dimensions (inches) – 8.8 x 5.7 x 6.3
- Amps/volts – 20V
- Speed (FPM/OPM) – 8000-12000
- Grit – 60-80
- Cordless and highly versatile
- Adjustable speeds
- A Brushless motor increases the lifespan of the battery and device
- On the expensive side
- Battery and charger sold separately further adds to the cost
This air sander or pneumatic sander emits low vibrations. This makes it easy to work with. It covers areas at 17 cubic feet per minute (CFM). It also operates at 12000 RPM. it promises a “swirl-free” finish, which is one of the main issues with an orbital sander. It has a built-in noise reduction system as well. But, due to being an air sander, it needs an air compressor to work.
- Weight – 4.2
- Dimensions (inches) – 4.3 x 10.5 x 6.4
- Amps/volts – Unspecified
- Speed (FPM/OPM) – 12000
- Grit – Unspecified
- Built-in silencer reduces noise to a large extent
- Comfortable grip reduces strain on hand and wrist
- Speed can be regulated
- Needs an air compressor to function
- Air compressor can be really loud
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Bosch is another well-known brand in the world of power tools. It is reliable and delivers on its claims. This orbital sander gives you multiple functions which aid its ease of use. This can be used as an orbital sander or switched to a random orbital sander. This is why it works at a maximum of both 640 RPM and 7300 OPM. The adjustable speed on this lets you work at much lower settings as well.
- Weight – 5.7
- Dimensions (inches) – 15 x 6.3 x 5.5
- Amps/volts – 7.5 amps
- Speed (FPM/OPM) – 290 to 640 RPM and 3,300 to 7,300 OPM
- Grit – 270
- Highly flexible model
- Can be used as a random orbital sander as well
- Variable speed settings
- Auxillary handle on the side provides adjustable grip
- Expensive compared to other models
This small device comes with some great features. The 1 amp motor is quite powerful and works at a surprising 13500 OPM. This is incredible for a sander of this size. The build of the base allows you to attach sandpapers of different grits based on your need. The lightweight model is easy to move around. The smaller size provides high precision. This model is great for sanding railings, stairs, and other smaller parts of the deck. It even comes with a dust collection duct that makes the whole job less messy.
- Weight – 2.5 pounds
- Dimensions (inches) – 3.75 x 5.25 x 6
- Amps/volts – 1 amp
- Speed (FPM/OPM) – 13500
- Grit – Changeable
- The small size makes it easy to move around
- Extremely powerful 1 amp motor
- Sandpaper grit can be changed as you need
- Extremely lightweight
- Provides a year’s warranty even at such a low price
- Sandpaper to fit this may be difficult to find
What is the best way to sand a wood deck?
To sand a wooden deck, make sure you begin with a clean surface. If you have recently cleaned or washed the deck, wait until it is completely dry. Fill in any holes or uneven patches with epoxy. Then, use the sander to smooth down the surface. Use sandpaper between 60-80 grit. 100-grit sandpaper will sand it much finer. But, will make it difficult for the wood to take on any tint or polish. For the smoothest finish, a 60-80 grit works best. It allows for the tint or polish to spread evenly over the wood. Use an even pressure all over the deck to reveal a smooth surface all over. Once you’re done sanding, clean the dust with a vacuum cleaner or a leaf blower. Once the deck is clean, apply the tint or polish immediately for the best finish.
How Can You Keep Your Deck Healthy And Looking Great?
Maintaining your deck’s health is fairly easy if done regularly. Over time, wear and tear from usage and weather can cause damage. Make sure to clean your deck on a regular basis. Warm water and soap can help you do this easily.
Sweep up dirt and debris from your deck as much as you can. Shovel any snow that settles on it. All of this can shorten the lifespan of your wooden deck.
Polish and restrain your deck every few years. It is best to get a professional to do this job at certain intervals. This causes it to last longer and look fresher with minimum upkeep.
Be on the lookout for rotting and rusting. Exposure to moisture can cause the wood to rot or the nails in it rust. These can be highly damaging. Regularly inspect for infestations like termites and fungus as well.
Buying Guide: What to look for in a sander for a deck?
With so many options to choose from, picking the best sander might seem confusing. Here we have a few key points to keep in mind when picking a sander for your deck.
Sanders can be bought for as less as $30 or for as much as over $200. This is a fairly wide price range that suits most buyers. The price of the sander depends on its size as well as its functions. We have tried to include sanders at various price points in this list. With this, you should be able to find one that works best for you within your budget.
Power and Speed
One might easily assume that high power and high speed will be the most ideal in sanders. This may or may not be true. Sanding a deck involves multiple parts, and not all can be sanded at the same speed. The best sander for this would be to get one with adjustable speeds.
Noise level may not be the first thing that comes to mind when choosing a sander. But, for bigger projects, it’s a good thing to consider. Sanding a deck takes a significant time. Moreover, upkeep would require you to repeat the process every so often. Exposure to high noise levels can be harmful in the long run. If you’re unable to get a sander with lower noise levels, do invest in ear protection.
Cleaning up all the dust post-sanding can prove to be a task. Vacuums and leaf-blowers can surely help with the job. But, most sanders come with methods of built-in dust collection. This makes clean-up an absolute breeze. Look for sanders with a dust-collecting mechanism.
For sanding your deck you can get a standard-sized sander of about 5 inches. You might want to get a detail sander, around 3-inches wide for smaller spaces. Opt for a 60-grit or 80-grit sandpaper to work with for optimal results.
Belt sanders are the easiest to use and more forgiving of mistakes. Not applying even pressure can cause the sander to leave marks. Orbital sanders can leave circular marks if held too long in one spot. These marks can be difficult to get out and show up when tinting or staining the wood. Belt sanders might leave lines on the wood as well but they are much easier to cover up. While you can use both to sand your deck, belt sanders do work the best.
You can certainly use floor sanders to sand a deck. But, floor sanders give you less control over the movements of the sander. This makes it easier for one to lose control over it. This can result in the sander gouging your floor and damaging it. In order to avoid this, it is best to use a smaller sander.
Work over your deck with your sander by applying even pressure all over. Uneven sanding will show up prominently when staining and polishing the wood. Move over the wood swiftly to avoid gouging and leaving marks. These can be difficult to get out. Do not try to sand it down to an absolutely smooth finish. This will prevent the tint or polish from getting absorbed properly. Once done with sanding use a leaf-blower or a powerful vacuum cleaner to clean up the dust. Stain and polish your wood immediately after you are done sanding. This will give you the best results.
You can sand and stain your deck by yourself or get it done professionally. On a per square foot basis, sanding and staining can cost anywhere between $2 – $4. This cost should be inclusive of labor and materials used. Depending on the size of your deck this could be anywhere between $400 to upwards of $1000. An average deck will cost $700-$750 for sanding and staining.
Doing this job on your own will cost you about the same as the lower end of this range. Around $400 or maybe less if your deck is smaller.
Sprucing up your deck every now and then helps maintain it over time. This may be a job that is usually overlooked. But, frequent sanding and polishing ensure that your deck stays healthy longer. Not checking up on your deck regularly can cause rotting, termite infestations, as well as rusting of metal parts. If ignored long enough, all these can cause a lot of expenditure for you. It is best to regularly sweep and clean your deck. If it snows where you live, shovel it up and do not let it sit too long. It is fairly easy to sand your deck by yourself. It may seem time-consuming, but the right sander can make the task very easy. We have done our best to compile some of the best sanders currently in the market. This list is an output of detailed research. The buyer’s guide at the end of the list should further help you make the best choice. But, deck maintenance may not be a job for everyone to undertake. If you feel this is not a task for you, you can always enlist professional help. Shelling out $700 on an average every 3 years can do wonders for your deck. Remember that regular maintenance now can prevent heavy costs later!