5 Best Sanders for Stairs

Published on: March 17, 2022
Written by David Rowan / Fact-checked by Eric Devin

The staircase is the most used part of an establishment; even compared to the floor. It deals with heavy traffic on daily basis hence, needs to be taken care of more than any part of the house. Sanding is the first process of refinishing a stair.

You can’t skip this process if you want a home renovation or just redecorate it for the upcoming festivals. However, the end result after stair refinishing primarily depends on how well it is sanded. 

best sanders for stairs

A good quality sander is essential to make the process hassle-free and successful. Here, I have picked the best five sanders you can use to sand your hardwood staircase. All are different from one another in terms of features, ease of use, price, and functionality.

Don’t forget to focus on the buying guide so that you can choose properly among those.

Things to Consider When Choosing Sanders for Stairs

Types of Sander Used for Stairs

Stairs are mostly rectangular in shape with an enclosed corner on one side. Some stairs have wide angles as well. Now, to sand a staircase, choosing a sander with a square or triangular-shaped pad is more logical than choosing one with a circular pad.

I can’t say which one you must use and which one not. Rather, I will discuss all these types so that you will find the pros and cons of each type of sander. 

Finishing sander/Palm Sander

These are square pad sanders that move in orbital motion. These are the best kind to sand a stair. These are small, and compact and never leave any corner untouched. Besides, these are powerful also, which is suitable for hardwood stairs. 

Detail Sander

This sander has a triangular pad and also moves in orbital motion. These are great to reach any spot easily and are more suitable for stairs with wide angles. Detail sanders are less powerful and the pad is smaller than square ones. So, it may take longer to complete the project. 

Random Orbital Sander

The last option for sanding a staircase should be an orbital sander. The pad is circular, hence, the corners will be left to be polished manually. But these sanders are an all-rounder and can be found in any homeowner’s toolbox. So, you can use it on the stairs too, but remember to touch up the corners manually. 

Paper Attachment

Paper attachment systems are mostly two types for palm sanders. Clip system and loop system. The loop system is more secure but takes time to change the paper in between your tasks. On the other hand, the clip system is easier for paper changing. There are sanders available that take both types of paper. Choose one based on your preference. 


The power required for sanding the stair highly depends on the type of wood used for the stair. If it is a hardwood stair, then the more power full the sander is the better. Otherwise, a moderate one will do the job. 


Take into account how the sander fits in your palm and how noisy vibrating it is. All these matters when you have to work on a large project. These sanders are held by hand for a long time. A wrongly chosen one can make you take a break frequently and can lengthen the task. 

View Top 5 Sanders for Stairs

1. Bosch 3.4-Amp Variable Speed 1/2-Sheet Orbital Finishing Sander

  • Sheet size:½ sheet, 4 ½” x 9″;
  • Speed: 12,000 OPM;
  • Motor: 3.4 amp;
  • The package includes a sander only; 
  • Model no: OS50VC;
  • Weight: 6 pounds.

Bosch OS50VC finishing sander is one of those rare power tools that can be categorized as ‘flawless’. Because, from its power, grip, paper replacement, and dust collecting everything has been made flawless. That makes this machine perfect for anyone, from new to pro. 

To eliminate vibration, a vibration control mechanism is incorporated into this machine. The result is awesome; the vibration along with noise is almost non-existent. The attached dust collector itself is efficient enough to collect more than 98 percent of produced dust. When it is attached to a shop vac, the workpiece remains even cleaner!

Any kind of sandpaper can be used here, whether it is tension or adhesive. It gives you the freedom to experience almost every sandpaper available in the market. The price is obviously out of reach of this machine for personal use. For using it on a professional basis, the price is negligible. 


  • Accepts two different papers;
  • Comes with vibration control;
  • Highly effective dust collection.


  • Expensive.

2. Makita Sheet Finishing Sander, 1/3 In, 1.7 A, Teal (BO3710)

  • Speed: 11,000 OPM;
  • Motor: 1.7 amp;
  • Included sander, abrasive paper, punch plate, and dust bag;
  • Model no: BO3710;
  • Weight: 3.3 pounds.

Only contractors look for a sander that is suitable for staircase sanding. There is no such sander as that category, so, the choices vary a lot. However, as contracting is a long-term job, hence I tried to add products to my list which will last longer. This sander is durable. So, it is obvious that it has a long service life. Otherwise, the investment will still be risk-free for contractors who are new to this profession due to its money-back guarantee.

It comes with a pressure control setting, which is handy in many ways. It protects the machine from overload and the material. The dust collection is quite better as a random orbital sander. Most small type sander has an issue with collecting dust, but this sander has a clear canister so you know when it needs disposal. The performance of the dust collector has got a mixed review, hence, not relying solely on the built-in one will be wiser.  


  • Ergonomic rubberized grip and handle designed;
  • Easy paper installation;
  • Built-in counterbalance system;
  • Efficiency and smooth finish sanding.


  • Found no cons.

3. Makita 2 Amp Finishing Sander

  • Pad size: 4-½  x 4 inches;
  • paper size: 4-½ ” x 5-½’’;
  • Speed: 14,000 OPM;
  • Motor: 2 amp;
  • The package includes a sander, abrasive paper, dust bag, and punch plate; 
  • Model no: BO4556;
  • Weight: 2.5 pounds.

Unlike other Makita power tools, this one falls in the mid-range. Usually, Makita products fall in high-range power tools. However, despite its price, it delivers performance as good as expensive sanders. In terms of stair sanding, it is a powerful and convenient option for someone who wants to polish their own stairs by himself. 

It comes with a single speed, so there is no chance of confusion about what speed needs to be used for what purpose. The machine is a really aggressive one, so it is a better option for stripping old varnish and dirt from used stairs to prepare them for further renovation. 

The machine is very light. So, there is less chance that your hands will get stressed for a day-long operation even if you are not used to it. 


  • Powerful machine;
  • Reasonable price;
  • Lightweight;
  • Easy to use.


  • No cons.

4. Makita BO5030K 5-Inch Random Orbit Sander

  • Smooth and fast sanding with 3.0 AMP motor (12,000 OPM);
  • Voltage 120 volts;
  • Power corded electric;
  • The package includes a sander only; 
  • Grit Type Medium
  • Weight: 2.87 pounds.

First of all, belt-type sanders are mainly for smoothing large surfaces at a short notice. So, in the case of stairs, these are not generally used. But having a multi-use sander is better than renting one specific-use sander.  Besides, its variable speed settings may prove useful to polish different wood materials on your floor and stairs. 

The motor is very powerful to run for a long period of time delivering constant power. It is a bench-top belt sander, hence by flipping it you can use the belt to sand small boards of wood or other materials. For example, after polishing wooden boards and placing them on the stairs, use the sander to smooth out the surface for a more finished look. Later you can use a palm sander for the leftover corners. 


  • Delivers fast, smooth performance;
  • Better grip and control;
  • Large sanding surface;
  • Versatile use;
  • Very powerful.


  • No issues.

5. PORTER-CABLE 1/4 Sheet Orbital Finish Palm Sander


  • Sheet size: 1/4;
  • Speed: 13,500 SFPM;
  • Motor: 2 amp;
  • The package includes a sander, operating manual, and paper Punch; 
  • Model no: 380;
  • Weight: 3.5 pounds.


For use on newly constructed stairs, a decent sanding unit with less aggressive power is often appreciated like this 380 model from Porter-Cable. Because there is no paint to be removed and no rough surface to be smoothed. So, using an aggressive one can damage the material on the surface of the stairs. 

This sander has a significantly low vibration. So, the noise produced is also non-existent. Paper setting and changing are also hassle-free. For the economical price range, the offered feature and warranty have added a bonus for this sander. 

There is no mentionable negative side of this machine. But for contractors, I would recommend using more durable machines. 


  • A long warranty is offered;
  • Low vibration;
  • Easy to set and change paper;
  • Less aggressive sanding.


  • No cons.


If you have gone through all the top-rated sanders I have chosen for you and the guideline to choose one for your project, then you already got an idea of how to choose one for yourself. Sanding a stair is no big deal if you got the right tool in your hand.

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About This Writer

david rowan author

Hello, I am David Rowan. I am a professional contractor with 10 years of experience in home building, different tools used, construction, home remodeling, and other home improvement work. I have already built many custom homes and continued to do several woodworking projects along with how to deal with all categories of tools.

Hello, I am David Rowan. I am a professional contractor with 10 years of experience in home building, different tools used, construction, home remodeling, and other home improvement work. I have already built many custom homes and continued to do several woodworking projects along with how to deal with all categories of tools.

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