Sander for Removing Paint from Wood

There are several types of tools and methods of paint removal. One such tool is a power sander that can effectively remove paint from wood. It is the combination of the sanding action with the movement of the device that removes loose paint most efficiently. But depending on the type of sander you use the results may vary.

What type of sander is best for removing paint from wood?

A random orbital sander is a versatile tool and is the best sander for removing paint from wood especially when working with delicate work. The handheld belt sander works best for removing thick stubborn paint from wood. Use a detailed sander to remove paint from corners and hard-to-reach spots on decorative works, furniture, deck, etc.

What follows are the best types of sanders for removing paint.

1. Random Orbital Sander

The random orbital sander uses a large spinning disc surface that not only spins but also orbits (small circular motion) to clear away the paint.

Removing paint from chair

The advantages of the orbital sander start with the wide variety of hook and loop sandpaper grit you can use. These abrasive sandpapers have hole in it that will allow the dust to be sucked by your vacuum system.
However, a bigger advantage is being able to control the speed. You can start slowly along the painted surface to remove any loose paint. And then you can increase the speed to dig a little deeper.
Compared to a belt sander, the random orbital sander offers better control and less chance of damages.

One disadvantage is that if you keep the sander in one place for too long, it will create a circular pattern on the surface. You can avoid that by keeping the sander moving and using a light touch. By letting the orbital sander flow along the surface either with or against the grain of wood, you can remove the paint easily from the surface. Plus, you can choose a small orbital sander to get at curves and tight places that a larger one cannot reach.


Electric Orbital Sander

  • Tool Type: Random Orbital Sander
  • Size: 6 Inches
  • Motor: 7 APMS
  • Speed: 3300 to 7300 Orbits Per Minute
  • Power: 120V Corded
  • Price: Click Here to See Latest Price


I recommend going for a 6-inch random orbital sander like the above tool since it will cover a larger area and get the job done faster.

1. Belt Sander

The belt sander offers strong advantages because of the large sanding surface it provides. The sanding belt runs between two or more rollers and comes in a variety of sizes. You can choose from the small hand-held ones up to the large floor sander versions (useful for sanding small wooden articles).

Sander for Paint removal

You can remove paint using a belt sander from walls, floors, and even the ceiling although that may be tricky. Just sand along the grain of the wood for the best results. This type of sander is generally best for removing old paint from large surfaces.

Paint removal creates a lot of dust than normal wood sanding. I highly recommend you connect the sander to your shop vac. Be sure to wear the proper safety equipment including a respirator before you start the sanding process when removing old paint.

3. Palm Sander (1/4” Sheet Sander)

The palm sander is smaller than the belt and orbital sanders. This means you cannot remove paint at the same speed compared to a belt or orbital sander. However, its small size does allow it to move easily across the surface with better control. If you are sanding off paint from a relatively small surface, then a palm sander is ideal.BLACK+DECKER Electric Sander, 1/4 Sheet, 1.5-Amp (BDEQS15C) Palm sander is very useful for vertical and overhead sanding. That’s because the small size and weight of the palm sander make it is effortless to work. You can easily use this tool with one hand, unlike a belt sander which requires you to use both hands.

You will need to move the sander in long, straight lines applying just enough force to remove the paint while not digging too deep into the surface. Plus, it works best when you sand with the grain of the wood and not against it. Still, for small jobs, this may be the ideal tool.

4. Orbital Disc Sander

The orbital disc sanders such as the Wagner PaintEater with palm grip are specially designed for paint stripping. Unlike a ¼” sheet palm sander which has a rectangular sanding base, the orbital disc sander has a round base. With a paint stripping disc mounted, this variable speed disc sander is a good choice for paint removal.

Orbital Disc Sander

Orbital Disc Sander is another excellent tool for removing old paint and other coatings, including lacquer, varnish, shellac, lacquer paint, and polyurethane from wood.

5. Mouse Detail Sander

Also called a mouse sander, the detail sander has a triangular-shaped shaped base similar to your steam iron. You can get precut triangular-shaped sandpapers that can be attached to the sanding pad with the hook and loop mechanism. The vibrating head performs the sanding action when you apply the right accessory for the job.

Mouse detail sander

These are specialized devices that remove paint from edges and corners where other types of sanders cannot reach. This includes curved or textured spaces along with extremely tight corners. For example, if you want to remove paint and refinish your wooden front door with decorative work on it, then this is the sander you need.

They are smaller compared to a palm sander, so they are not suitable for working on large surfaces. If you have a small object that needs to be repainted, especially one that has a textured surface, then the mouse sander is the ideal tool.

Many of these tools come with various sanding attachments such as finger extension, flexible extension pads to sand even the most difficult spots.

Mouse Detail Sander removing paint from chair

You will need to be careful when using this sander on finely detailed objects. While small, it is powerful and can remove the details that you want to keep unless you use a light touch.

Alternative Tools for Paint Removal

Although power sanders can be used for paint removal, they are not the best tool for the job. But there is a reason, I have discussed these tools in detail. You could use one of the following methods of paint removal, but when it comes to refinishing wooden items, you still need to sand them before you can apply the finish or repaint them.

So, what is the best method to remove paint from wood?

Chemical stripping is the preferred method of removing paint from wood since it is the most effective and fastest way to do it in bulk. Heating the paint layers with a heat gun and stripping them off with a putty knife also works well. It is easy and is recommended for home users who only want to remove the paint from a relatively smaller area.

Chemical Paint Stripper Citristrip Paint Remover – Click Here to Buy

On the negative side, chemical stripping gels and solutions contain very strong chemical compounds and you should take extreme caution when working them.
When it comes to a heat gun, wear a mask since they produce paint fumes. Also, excess heat can warp thin sections of wood and may scorch the surface.

Angle Grinder with Paint Stripper or Flap Discs

Do you know that you can use an angle grinder as sander?
You may not have thought of an angle grinder at first since it is normally used on metal. However, when you apply flap discs, or stripping discs the angle grinder makes for an excellent paint remover. The device itself is not so small but in many ways more versatile than a mouse or palm sander.

Paint Stripping with Angle Grinder

I recommend you use the paint stripping disc to remove paint from wood and metal. Its design is perfect for taking the paint off the edges of planks for example.

You can also mount different grit flap discs to the grinder to sand the surface after stripping the paint. In addition to that, you can add an attachment to make this similar to an orbital sander. What this attachment does is set the sanding pad away from the device itself allowing for greater freedom of movement. This means that you can reach tight places, curves, and protect finely detailed surfaces with ease.

The only downside is that the angle grinder is not suitable to scrub the paint off of a larger flat surface since it is difficult to control an angle grinder. But it does make an excellent companion to the belt or larger orbital sander.