Best Sanders for Deck 2020

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Best Sanders for Deck Refinishing

best sanders for deck refinishingWooden decks are among the most popular sanding pieces in the world. This is due to wooden decks being extremely common in households and also because they are capable of lasting a lifetime. To ensure this last part though, they need to be properly and regularly taken care of. As you already know, you can achieve this by picking up a sander and going to town on the deck, removing the worn out material until you have a nice and fresh surface. After this, you give it a few coats of varnish and it’s ready to endure another set of years. This is why deck-sanding is so popular and why you need to know what the best sanders for decks are – the quality, speed and ease of the refinishing depends on it.

Along the years I’ve refinished dozens of decks, from my own (several times) to friends’ and clients’, I’ve become a certified expert on giving a new life to these things. I know just which sanders to use in order to do it quickly, easily and achieve a professional, smooth and high-quality result. Let’s begin!

Best Sander Type for Decks

Wooden decks have the unique feature of being a completely flat surface in which we don’t need to worry much about corners, edges or tight spaces. Due to this, the best sanders for deck refinishing are:

(Click on their names to go to their respective reviews and comparison pages)

As a bonus, you can also use a floor drum sander (the Clarke Ez-8), they are pricey but literally built for this.
What do they all have in common? They are big, powerful and excel at sanding flat surfaces.

As I’ve mentioned, you can read the reviews of my favorite sanders of each type (suited for decks) above but just in case you want to know which are my personal favorite machines for decks, here they are:

Best Sanders for Decks

These are, in my opinion, the top 5 best sanders for decks:

With an incredibly wide 4″ x 24″ belt, mountains of power and built-to-last construction, the Makita 9403 is in my view the very best belt sander for decks you can get. It will turn refinishing a deck into a quick and easy task and deliver unbeatable results.

Very wide belt
 Incredible power
Dubbed “the best 4″ by 24″ belt sander in the world”

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Popular for its unbeatable value, the Hitachi SB8V2 offers you professional quality at a super inexpensive price. Delivering one of the best bangs for your buck you can get, this machine is an excellent option for deck refinishing, even with the smaller 3″ by 21″ belt.

 Unbeatable value
 High-quality construction
Huge bang for your buck

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The best sheet sander I’ve ever had, the Bosch OS50VC offers a big 1/2 sheet sanding pad, low vibration and superb performance. With a potent 3.4 AMP motor that puts out 11,000 Orbits per Minute, the quality of the finish will be the very best. With variable speed to boot and rock-solid construction, this is a certified wooden deck beast.

 1/2 Sheet is excellent for decks
 Professional level performance and features
Low vibration makes it perfect for extended use

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The Bosch 1250DEVS is just perfect for anything, including decks. Featuring a roaring 6.5 AMP motor, turbo-mode and a big 6″ circular pad, this beauty will quickly and easily devour the old rough stock and deliver a jaw-dropping finish with its random orbital motion. My personal unit has also lasted for more than two decades so these things are built to last.

 Built like a tank
 Large 6″ sanding pad
Monstrous power and performance

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The most expensive choice of the list, the Clarke Ez-8 combines drum sander quality with mobility and versatility to deliver a fantastic floor sander. I’d only recommend this for either professionals or if you have a lot of area to cover as it’s too pricey for the regular user. Made for floor sanding, the Clarke Ez-8 truly is the king among the rest.

 Built for deck sanding
 Unmatched ease of use
Turns a long task into a quick one

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With any of these fantastic machines, you’ll turn deck sanding into a breeze and achieve high-quality and long lasting results.

It’s been a pleasure to help and as always, don’t forget to leave your opinion below. Thanks for reading!


  1. Hi James. I just finished sanding 3-4 coats of solid stain from my deck boards using my belt sander. It was a lot of work but worked really well using 50 then 80 grit belts. What is the easiest way sand and remove the paint where the belt sander can’t reach; where the boards butt up to the house and under the deck rails? I prefer not to sand by hand. Thanks.

    • Hey Todd, glad to know the deck renovation is going great! To deal with the areas where the belt sander can’t reach, I recommend going with a detail sander (also known as corner sanders or mouse sanders). They’re small, nimble machines that have a V-shaped tip especially made to reach every little nook and cranny. If you want to skip the hand-work in this case, those will be without a doubt the best solution – I’ve written a whole article dedicated to them where I show my favorite models, be sure to read it by clicking here. Have a great one and good luck with the rest of the deck renovation!

  2. James, great column and advice. Hope you can shed some guidance to a bad situation. I have a 20 year old deck, built with AC2 treated white southern pine, prepped with Olympic Browncoat, and restained with same several times in the first 15 years. Wood seems good, but worn. About 4 years ago, I screwed up bigtime by using PPG’s Revitalize….my luck, there was a national class action suit recall–which I was late to the party on. Over 80% of the coating had peeled after 3 years, I’ve been pressure-washing at 1800 psi to remove the remaining coating on the horizontal deck, the vertical ballasters and 4×4 posts are doing much better. Top rail has black substance and very rough surface. I am leaning toward Cabot’s Deck Correct for walking surface, solid stain for everything else. With around 10% of Revitalize coating remaining, I plan to belt sand and pressure wash it off then recoat. I have a couple of knotholes that popped up on floor about the size of a quarter–should I fill them? or ???? and with what? Not easy to replace those 2x8x2 boards. Advice? Suggestions? Please recommend prep steps and coatings. Anything but PPG–they are on permanent secret probation, even though I worked with some of their commercial division staff before I retired.

    • Hey Mike, thanks for the kind words! I do remember the Revitalize ordeal, shame you couldn’t be part of the settlement – that thing really does absolutely implode after a couple of years, it’s terrible. Belt sanding is a great idea to completely remove the remaining coat and when it comes to the knotholes, it depends. My dad always filled them up with a self-made mixture of sawdust and wood glue (it’s strong and looks decent), but I never fill them up as I feel that it looks unnatural. It comes down to personal preference but I’d say let them be as long as they pose no structural or convenience threats. Finally, I’d go at the remaining coat with a fairly low grit, especially on the rough surface you mentioned (depending on the deck’s health, I’d probably start with a 50 or 80) then move on up to about 120 to reach a healthy looking, fairly smooth finish. When it comes to the coat, Cabot’s Deck Correct is a solid choice as it gets rid of small cracks and locks down splinters – just be on the lookout for the colors as they can be quite different in real life when applied, I highly recommend that you ask for a sample of how it looks on wood before buying it. When it comes to solid stains, if you want to stay away from PPG, Cabot has a few great ones as well (solid acrylic) and so does Behr (premium waterproofing) and TWP (1500, among others) – all are fantastic choices! Hope everything turns out excellent and I’ll be wishing you good luck with the renovation Mike, if you’ve got any other questions be sure to leave another comment, I’ll be here!

  3. We have a four year old cedar deck. I put a semitransparent stain on the first year, carefully following directions. It curled and looked horrible after the first winter. My husband power washed it and put on Behr Deck Over, which looked very nice, put peeled in huge sheets, except for the areas where it adhered and is impossible to scrape up. The next year he power washed and applied more Deck Over. Same thing happened – huge sheets lifted. Our deck is a complete mess. I have spent many hours hand scraping. I am now ready to sand and start over with sealant. Do you know if any of your suggested sanders will work on Deck Over? And I really want the best possible sealant so that I can have a good looking deck, with as little upkeep as possible. Can’t tell you how frustrated I am!

    • Hey Bonnie, first of all don’t lose hope – there’s always a way to fix a deck and get it to look as good as new! Any of the sanders listed above, equipped with a low grit sandpaper sheet (such as 50 or even lower) will absolutely decimate the Deck Over coats with ease. As such, make sure to start with this lower grit to remove all the old, rough layers and then move on to a higher sandpaper grit such as 80 or even 120 (depending on your own personal taste) to achieve a good looking smooth finish that’ll perfectly absorb whichever sealant or stain you use. For staining, I recommend Pittsburg’s Ultra Solid Color Stain, it has never failed me and always lasts for years upon years. Thanks for stopping by Bonnie and keep your head up – in the end, you’ll have a beautiful looking deck that’ll last for ages. Good luck!

  4. Great blog!

    I have about 900 sq. ft. (cedar), and weighing out whether to go with the bosch or makita, OR buy a drywall sander… I’ve never used any of these, but my guess is the drywall sander will save my knees and back, BUT may not actually save time if it doesn’t have the power equivalence. Ie – will it actually take longer? I’m willing to sacrifice some sore joints… just want to go with the tool that’s going to give me the best results in the shortest time. ….and I definitely can’t afford the Clarke. 🙂


    • Hey Marty, great question! While the drywall sander does give your back some rest and can be used for lighter tasks (decks that aren’t very weathered), it can’t compare in terms of sheer power to the other options – the Bosch 1250DEVS/OS50VC or the Makita belt sander. All of these 3 will decimate any deck with ease, with the deciding factor coming down to personal preference and how your deck’s boards are styled. If they’re flat (no grooves) and you like a less polished look, the Makita belt sander will be the fastest option, giving you outstanding results in a short amount of time and with little effort. For any other configuration, both of the Bosch choices will be perfect, especially if you’re looking to achieve a finer finish (random orbitals can give you extremely polished, high-quality finishes if you want). In short, I’d go with the Makita for a more rougher, natural look or with the Bosch for a more refined finish. They’re all excellent choices though so I’m sure you’ll be happy either way! Hope that helped Marty, best of luck with the refinish!

  5. I just sanded a new deck after it was pressure washed by carpenter who built it. The pressure washing did not remove stains and black ink saying pressurized wood still showed. He told me to use 120 grit and I did. Then I vacuumed all the dust off and put a clear coat. Now I have read that I should not use any grit higher than 80 or the wood will not absorb the sealer. Water is beading up nicely right now, but I am worried I messed up. It took a long time to sand and I hope the effort was not wasted. I have not sealed the tongue and groove pine that is under a screened porch. Have sanded it with the Bosch sheet sander you recommended. It is older wood and had been stained. I have gotten it back to the unstained color and did 60 grit and then 80. Do I need to go higher than the 80 on the pine on the covered porch? Also, still have the old deck to sand. I will not go over 80 on it. Thanks for your help.

    • Hey Angela, while it depends on a few variables such as the type of wood and the finish, among others, an 80 and even 120 grit pass is perfectly fine. The lower the grit the easier it is for the wood to “soak” up the sealer but it doesn’t mean that a higher grit pass doesn’t work, it simply takes a bit more time for it to soak and it also might take less coats of sealant overall to get a nice level of protection. In the end, it’s all up to your personal taste on how you like the wood to look (rougher or finer) – that should be your guide. Rest assured that your effort was not wasted and it’ll hold up nicely. If you like the look and feel of an 80 grit pass then you can stop at that and if you prefer the 120 grit look then there’s absolutely no problem with going for it. Choose your favorite and work with confidence – it’ll be perfect either way. Thanks for stopping by and good luck with the rest of the renovation!

  6. Hello James~

    Our 10-15 yr old decks are generic pressure-treated boards previously treated with Benj Moore translucent or transparent stains (I prefer the gray/naturally aged look.) Stain has lifted in many places and there are spots of mildew. Do we need to sand to refinish or will a product like the B. Moore “Remove Finish Remover 315” be sufficient to prepare the surface for restaining? And, should we apply a mildewcide before the stain?

    Thanks for your expertise.

    Garden Girl

    • Hi Garden Girl! I’ve tried the removers before and was always underwhelmed by the results, they look promising on paper but in real life they’re just a reminder that you can’t take shortcuts when it comes to refinishing. I heartily recommend that you sand the deck (one medium-high grit pass can be sufficient if the top layer isn’t highly damaged) and after cleaning the debris make sure to treat it with mildewcide. This is important as even if you refinish the deck, the mildew below can still wreak havoc if left untreated. Finally, after letting the mildewcide work its magic, you can apply your favorite stain again (how many layers is up to your personal preference) and then marvel at how darn good the deck looks! It’ll take a bit of work, as all deck refinishes do, but I promise it’s more than worth it. Hope that helps – be sure to leave another comment if you need anything else, I’ll be here!

  7. Hi there!
    I’m refinishing a “new” deck— allowed the deck to age for 2 years now (due to a new baby arriving and not having time to finish it after a year). I have power washed the deck and now have deck “furring” in some areas. I’m wondering if you can point me in the direction of what grit sandpaper to use (as everything I’ve read says to use 80 grit). Also, do you HAVE to wash the deck again after sanding? (Because, I live in a rainy climate and finding a window of time to allow for drying is actually quite difficult). LASTLY, I am looking to just seal the deck and maintain its natural color (the way it looks when wet)— would you reccomend a deck oil instead of stain? Thanks so much for all your help!

    • Hey Erica, first of all congratulations on the baby! Since the deck didn’t have any strong stain or paint before and you’ve already power washed it, you can skip to a higher grit – like 120 – to save some time and effort while still getting beautiful results. When it comes to cleaning it after sanding, even though it’s absolutely crucial, you can do it without water. Simply use an air compressor or give it a very thorough broom cleaning instead, just make sure all the dust and debris is removed from the deck. Then, to maintain its natural color, I’d definitely go with a clear decking oil. Hope that helps Erica, have a great one!

  8. Beautifully helpful guide James, I don’t usually comment but you deserve it. Got two Bosch 1250DEVS (one for me and one for my wife) and wow, by far the best sander I’ve had in my hands. Never knew deck sanding could be so fast and that the results would look so good, if I did I wouldn’t have been putting my renovation off for the last 4 years haha. Thanks again James!

    • Thanks for the kind words Darrel, I’m glad you liked both the guide and the machines! Also great to hear that you aced the renovation, having an excellent machine like the 1250DEVS by your side really does make a world of difference. Thanks again for stopping by and take care!

  9. Outstanding write-up James, gave me the final push to go renovate my deck. Thanks a bunch!

  10. We just did a chemical strip of a fairly new redwood deck that had a failed first stain. Apparently we over did it with the chemicals, so now we have to sand the sections that are covered with fine fibers. We were recommended to use a floor buffer with 80 grit. Another person said we should use a drum sander. Is there a hand sander you’d recommend for this job? Any other tips to get us out of this situation? Thanks!

    • Hello Sophie, thanks for reaching out! I’m sorry to hear that but don’t worry, there’s always a way to fix it. A floor buffer with 80 grit sandpaper isn’t the best fit in my opinion as it might lack power and the grit itself is too rough to be used as the final pass (200-400 grit is a good reference but it depends on how smooth and shiny you want it). A drum sander is an excellent option but it’s quite expensive for a one-off so your best bet is a hand sander as you’ve mentioned. Any of the choices above are fantastic – Makita 9403, Bosch 1250 DEVS, Bosch OS50VC – but the Bosch 1250 DEVS delivers the best bang for the buck due to how versatile it is (perfect not only for this task but for most others as well and the finish it delivers is unbeatable). Even though it’s quite a straightforward process, be sure to sand carefully and to start with a higher grit than usual to avoid damaging the wood beyond what’s needed. Start with a 120 grit sheet of sandpaper and sand the surface lightly until the stain is gone, then give a pass on the whole deck with the same grit and climb up the grit ladder until you reach your desired finish. It’s a bit time consuming but worth it in the end. Hope that helped Sophie!

  11. I need to know which sander is best for a very old deck. Thank you!

    • Hey Marie! If it’s a very old deck I’m betting it will have a lot of seriously rough stock to remove. The best solution to that is raw power which leaves you with 2 great options: The Bosch 1250DEVS or the Makita 9403 – both of them deliver beastly power and performance that can tackle even the hardest, roughest surfaces and get them looking as good as new. Start with a low grit sandpaper first to decimate the old stock and then you can slowly climb the grit levels to get a perfectly smooth finish. If you need anything else – I’ll be here!

  12. Couldn’t decide which one to get since all of them are so incredible, ended up getting both the Bosch OS50VC and the Makita 9403. They came in right on time, already finished my decks with these beauties (with the help of my wife!) and the quality of the machines is undeniable. Never in my life I thought sanding my deck, which I didn’t like doing at all, could be so easy, quick and deliver such great results. Not to sound dramatic but it was life changing so I want to thank you James, please keep up the great work!

    • Beautiful comment to start the day Hector, thank you – I truly appreciate it. I’m just glad that I could help make your life easier and a hard task more enjoyable. Thanks again!

  13. Finally an excellent guide in this sea of information we call the internet. Great work James, your expertise shows and it’s very much appreciated! Got the Bosch OS50VC and couldn’t be happier, it arrived quickly as well.

    • Hey Steve, I appreciate the kind words. It always puts a smile on my face knowing I could help – thanks for stopping by and enjoy the OS50VC!

  14. You wouldn’t believe how helpful this was James, can’t thank you enough! The Makita 9403 made quick work of my looooong deck and it was as easy as it gets. Beautiful!

  15. James-
    I just discovered your very interesting blog/website in searching for a sander for a cedar deck. I already have a 1/4 sheet, 1/2 sheet, 5″ orbital and a belt sander but I have about 800 sq. feet to sand and I need to get this done more quickly than I can do on my hands and old knees. I have used a large deck sander before but what do you think of buying and then owning one of the wall sanders for this project – it seems that it might work okay, just wondering what you think? Thanks, Paul

    • Hey Paul, you’ve just cracked me up as I’ve had that very same idea before. I was in a hurry to finish a friend’s deck and left most of my tools at home so I used my Porter Cable drywall sander. I’ve gotta tell you, it was a surprisingly good idea – it saved my back and the results were great. Just make sure to use an appropriate sandpaper grit to deal with wood and you’re good to go!

      • Thanks for your quick response. I intend to purchase one of the drywall sanders – that is unless I can figure how to attach a sanding disc to my line trimmer! Too many single use tools around for homeowners.

        • Hahaha now that’s something I’d like to see! Too true Paul, even my home shop is filled to the brim. Thank YOU for the great laughs.

  16. Hi, Great Article, Thank You!!
    I was wondering if you have a similar article on FINISHES?? – We installed our new deck Three Summers ago and used Behr’s Best Stain, with an 8Yr Warranty, and it needed Re-Finishing last Summer already!!)

    So, as you can imagine, I am Deeply Disappointed in Behr’s claim and their Warranty! – (Which was a Total joke, as they offered the SAME stuff to re-coat my Deck with!)

    If you have any Articles, Suggestions, or Advice on Finishes and Finishing, – PLEASE Let us know!

    Thanks so much, – Pat

    • Hey Pat, thanks for reading! Deck finishes truly are a tough business, it’s nearly impossible to find a brand or product that everyone agrees is the best. Due to the 8 years of warranty you mentioned I’m sure it’s a solid stain – these last the longest without having to reapply. In my opinion I’d go with either Pittsburg’s Ultra Solid Color Stain or Glidden’s Porch & Floor Enamel, both have served me very well in the past (although this depends heavily on the conditions/weather of course). I’ve also used Behr and I quite like their products but as I said, it heavily depends on the surface and conditions. This is an interesting topic and lots of people struggle with it so I’ll most likely write an article about it when I have the time. I hope I’ve helped and thanks again for stopping by Patrick, don’t hesitate to leave another comment if you need more help!

  17. Just finished doing my deck in preparation for Spring and man, I don’t know how I’ve lived without the Bosch OS50VC. Thanks for the headsup James, made my life a whole of a lot easier!

  18. Just in time! The stormy weather is beginning to hit and I’ve been putting off the refinishing for a while. Going with the Hitachi, the price/quality ratio is beyond great. Thanks again James!

    • Great choice Trent, it truly is a fantastic machine for the money. Good luck with the refinishing and thanks for stopping by!

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