How to Use an Orbital Sander to Remove Paint

When somebody  plans to renovate a house, office building, furniture or any kind of surface, one of the most common tasks of renovation is removing paints and preparing the material to get repainted.

Removing paints is a complex job as it may damage the quality of the materials if you don’t comply with the standard procedure and guideline  while working on your project for achieving the best outcome.

Sometimes lack of knowledge, insight or use of wrong tools for removing paints misleads people towards undesirable outcomes.

Orbital sanders can be used for a variety of sanding and smoothing needs. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your ventilation system, safety issues.

how to use an orbital sander to remove paint
how to use an orbital sander to remove paint

There are a variety of sanders available in the market. And that would puzzle you to choose the most effective one for your paint removing project. In fact, among all, Orbital sander ranked top because of its unique features. 

However, considering the above aspects, I have designed this article with a few steps for you to follow for achieving the outstanding results in removing paint with an Orbital sander. Now, let’s discuss the steps on how to use an Orbital sander to remove paint.

Step by Step Guide

Personal Protection Equipment 

Before commencing your project work, you must wear safety goggles; ear plugs; musk, protective clothes  and boots to prevent injuries, respiratory infections and workplace hazards.

Determine the Base under the Layers of the Paint 

The first step is to identify the base of your project surface under the layer of the paint. Use a sander to clean the layer of paint off the drywall. Never use chemical paint remover which can cause damage to the drywall of the material.

The orbital sanders are also appropriate to remove paint from hardwood floors, plain door frames, or even metal surfaces. For the molded baseboard, it would need to apply chemical paint stripper so the sanding process won’t disfigure its shapes and design.

3 Organize the Project Surface  

At this stage, prepare the project surface following three crucial steps like, cleaning the painted surface, taping off the edges, and spraying some paint remover.

Cleanse the painted surface thoroughly, rinse it well, and leave it overnight to dry off. Cleaning could be done by a grease-cutting cleaner, dish detergent, or some all-purpose household cleaners.

Border or mark the project surface for paint removal with the tape on the edges. It would help you protect the area where you don’t want to sand.

Then the next step is to spread over paint remover on the project surface. Spray the paint remover on the surface and leave it for sometime to get the paint dissolved. 

Then, wipe off the project surface with the paper towels or microfiber soft towel. In case of hard paint substance which may not be dissolved with chemical spray, use a paint scraper to get it off clearly.

Organize Sanding Room

Before sanding, vacant the room completely. There should be no furniture or any other stuff. Keep all the windows open. Then block the doorways with the plastic drop sheet to make sure that no sawdust gets to the adjacent rooms or areas.

Start Sanding for Paint Removal

The standard procedure recommends two methods for removing paints by an Orbital sander. One is, place the Orbital sander on the project surface and move it very gently and lightly in circular motion with recommended speed like take a second to sand one inch of the surface. And the other is to scrap away the remaining solid paints with the abrasive sandpaper or with the recommended power grade sanding disk.

It is recommended to use abrasive 60-grit sandpaper to commence the sanding with the Orbital sander which has capacity to cover a large area at a time while operating. Then, vacuum the sanding area with the shop vacuum and check the first outcome of the sanding task.

Continue sanding with sandpaper ranging from 80 to 100 grit as appropriate. Continue vacuuming and sanding until it removes all the layers of the paint. For a metal surface, you can sand with 80 grit of sandpaper.

Finally, refinish the surface with higher grade sandpaper from 150 to 200 grit as appropriate. For metal surfaces, you can rub the steel fiber in circular motion over the metal to have a smooth finish.

Finishing Task

After the sanding is over, inspect the surface carefully if there are any cracks, damage, or open grain. Fill the holes with wood putty if any before finishing. Then apply a pre-stain wood conditioner to help sustain the color, removing the blemished appearance of the surface.

It is also to be noted that a handy orbital sander is an appropriate tool to remove paint from flat or curved surfaces.

Removing old paint is not a relaxed job by sanding in general. It is time consuming and demands a lot of patience to achieve outstanding results. After finishing with orbital sander, if it did not yet give you the best results, you can try some other different stripping methods. When there are several layers of gloss paints on top of some varnish, the only way to use the more powerful sander is to have the optimum results.

Features of Orbital Sander

Please check out the following features while you buy for your project


Orbital sander is a hand-held sander that vibrates in small circles, or “orbits.” The sanding disk spinning while moving simultaneously in small ellipses causes the orbital action that it is known for. Mostly used for fine sanding or where little material needs to be removed;

Variable Speed:

Variable speed offers more control especially when sanding the painted surface which is not even/flat;

Speed lock: It allows you to hold on your sander more freely and focus on the task. Speed Lock is able to lock any speed level, not only the highest;

Good Vacuum:

The built-in dust collector is good for extracting paint dust and other super fine clouds of dust quite nicely. Option for attaching the shop vac. is an added advantage; 

Low Vibrations: 

Vibration control system offers more comfortable and regulated sanding. Compared to disc sanders, the rotation and vibration of the orbital sanders lessen the risk of eliminating a circular pattern on the surface;

Heavy Grit to Fine-grain:

The movement part of orbital sanders to scrape the paint away from the surface is spinning heads and a variant of sanding discs from heavy-grit sanding discs to fine-grain polishers;

Concluding Remarks

As I said earlier, removing paint from the surface is a little complex job as it may cause  damage to your work piece for various reasons. It demands sufficient time, concentration and right tools to have the excellence level of performance for your project. Therefore, I would remind you to strictly follow the standard procedure and guidelines while working with such sensitive jobs like paint removing. 

In addition, I would suggest that if you detect any abnormality in your device, you are always welcome to consult with us at any time. Also please check with the manufacturer’s instructions further to deal with the problem in a proficient manner. 

I am quite confident that if you strictly adhere to all the steps while implementing your project, it would give you the worthwhile experience about the paint removing project with an Orbital sander. We, your professional experts, always love to have your valuable comments, feedback which would allow us to respond to your needs more promptly and efficiently. 

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About This Writer

Author Eric Devin

Hi, I am Eric Devin and I am a professional interior architect. Since childhood, I've always enjoyed DIY projects! And, I have loved to solve simple household problems using essential tools and equipment. I have also acquired a lot of information about basic household tools settings by working with contractors.

Hi, I am Eric Devin and I am a professional interior architect. Since childhood, I've always enjoyed DIY projects! And, I have loved to solve simple household problems using essential tools and equipment. I have also acquired a lot of information about basic household tools settings by working with contractors.

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