Best Sanders for Stairs 2020

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
All claims are strictly my personal opinion.

best sander for stairsWhen it comes to the tight corners and right-angles that make stairs an infamously pesky sanding task, you need the right type of machine to turn that difficult, long job into a quick and easy one. They’ve got to be compact, nimble and offer the right type of features so that you can absolutely dominate the stairs and come out as a winner, showing a perfectly smooth staircase as your trophy. In the whole market there are 3 types of machines that fit the bill, making them my personal choice for the best sanders for stairs. Let’s take a look at them and their respective top choices.

Best Sanders for Stair Sanding

Here I’ll show you the machines that are, in my opinion, the top 5 best sanders for stairs, each with an introduction to their type (sheet, orbital and detail).

Top 5 Best Sanders for Stairs

Sheet Sanders for Stairs

The classic choice. Offering you a square or rectangular sanding pad that perfectly fits most stairs coupled with a compact and easy to maneuver body, sheet sanders are the most popular option for this type of work – you can’t go wrong with these. They’re a great stand-alone choice for most cases but if your stairs have a corner angle that goes above or below 90 degrees, then you’ll need a detail sander as well to ensure you can sand them.

You can click here to read the full article on them. These are my recommended choices:

Makita BO4556 2 Amp Finishing Sander
Impressively well built and offering awesome performance for the price, this little Makita is a great choice. Its ultra compact body and ergonomic grip makes it nimble and super comfortable to use while the 2 AMP motor ensures great finishing capabilities. It also has an effective dust collection system built-in and it’s incredibly affordable.

 Super compact
 Very inexpensive
 Great performance and handling

Shop Now at Amazon

Bosch OS50VC 120-Volt 3.4-Amp Variable Speed 1/2 Orbital Sheet Sander
One of my favorite sanders of all time, the Bosch OS50VC is beyond superb. From the top-notch construction to the potent motor and excellent design, this is truly a quality machine. The large sanding pad speeds up any sanding task and the fantastic performance ensures a flawless finish. It’s also super comfortable to use and the built-in dust collection is impressively effective, making this machine a brilliant choice.

 Excellent quality
 Tank like durability
 Large sheet turns long tasks into quick ones

Shop Now at Amazon

Orbital Sanders for Stairs

As versatile as can be, orbital sanders are the Swiss army knife of the sanding world and as you’d expect, they can take on stairs as well. While they can deliver excellent results, the shape of the stairs is crucial here because due to their circular pad they might not be able to reach the corners. If you’ve got a detail sander to accompany one of these though, you’re on your way to perfection.

You can click here to read the full article on them. These are my recommended choices:

DEWALT D26453K 3 Amp 5-Inch Variable Speed Random Orbit Sander
DeWalt’s 53K ROS is a versatile and affordable option that delivers solid quality all-around. Featuring a strong 3 amp motor that offers variable speed ranging from 7,000 to 12,000 OPM, it packs a punch even with its compact size. It also has a good built-in dust collection system and the handling is quite comfortable. It offers great value for the price.

 Great value
 Solidly built
 Variable speed on a budget

Shop Now at Amazon

Bosch 120-V 6-Inch Random Orbit Sander ROS65VC-6
This is the random orbital version of the excellent Bosch sheet sander seen above and it’s just as superb as the other. Not only is it powerful and a beauty to handle, but it also delivers variable speed, unmatched finishing results, comfortable ergonomic grips and a great dust collector. It’s available in either 5″ or 6″ sanding pad versions, with the latter making the whole sanding task that much faster, as expected. Just like the other, it’ll last a lifetime of use and it’s a truly fantastic machine.

 Incredible quality
 Unmatched finishing
 Lasts a lifetime of use

Shop Now at Amazon

Detail Sanders for Stairs

While in some cases you could get the job done without one of these, they’re the only way to ensure that you get the perfect finish. From the handy, versatile shape to their unique and crucial corner-sanding capabilities, they’re an unmissable sidearm and can even be a solid stand-alone option if the surfaces aren’t that big.

You can click here to read the full article on them. Unlike the other categories, I’ve only got 1 sander to recommend as it’s just so above and beyond the competition in both quality and price that all others don’t even come close. This is my recommended choice:

BLACK+DECKER BDEMS600 Mouse Detail Sander
When it comes to detail sanders, I always recommend the B+D Mouse. It’s solidly built, performs perfectly and with the included detail finger, you can sand absolutely any hard-to-reach spots and corners with ease. The dust collection is also pretty good and the body has comfortable grips as well, making this an obviously great choice. It’s also stunningly affordable.

 Comfortable grip
 Unbelievable value for the price
 Detail finger ensures you can sand anything

Shop Now at Amazon

If you want a bonus to ease of use, you can always get these types of sanders without cords. Check out the cordless sanders list to see my personal top picks. While they’re usually not as powerful and a bit more expensive, the practicality you get in turn is quite outstanding and can be worth it if you dislike jumbled up cords.

Your stairs will be shining and looking better than new in no time with any of these choices. No matter which one you end up choosing, according to your preferred style, they’re in my honest opinion the very best sanders for stairs you can get and they’ll turn a long, hard task into a quick and enjoyable one – all while delivering beautiful results in the end.

I want to thank you all for taking the time to read my guide and truly hope I was able to help you. Be sure to leave your opinions below and I’ll see you on the next one!


  1. Hello, please could you recommend a block sheet sander that isn’t too heavy to sand the stair risers. I’m thinking of hiring something as only a few stairs to complete. Also which is best to purchase. Cord or cordless. The mouse sander used hasn’t been able to get into the corners of the treads and the large edger is to heavy to hold up to do the risers!!!! Thank you.

    • Hey Carole,
      For the risers, the Makita BO4556 would be a perfect fit – it’s small and lightweight while still being potent and highly effective. To get the corners the BLACK+DECKER BDEMS600 is the best choice as even if the regular shape can’t reach a tight corner, the tip expands into a precise sanding “finger” that can reach anywhere with ease. When it comes to cord vs cordless, it’s all about personal preference and type of work. I’d always go with corded tools for more demanding or long tasks but if it’s a more casual or quick ordeal then the cordless variety would be a great fit. Hope that helps Carole and good luck with the stair refinishing!

  2. Hi just came across your site and it has a lot of great information…thank you for sharing. I do have a question though. I have a staircase which consist of two open stringers and treads with carpet wrapped around them. The treads butt up to the wall on one side and are open on the other side all four sides of the tread are rounded. Could you advise best sander to tackle this I know at this point the edge against the wall will require hand sanding. Also could you advise proper sandpaper grades to use the stairs current have a clear stain. When finished I hope to paint the strings and do a dark stain on the treads.


    • Hey Mike, taking into consideration the details of your staircase, I’d go with a random orbital sander – they’re the most versatile type of machine and they’ll guarantee that everything gets smoothly sanded even if rounded, at an angle or hard to reach. In the end, just as you mentioned, I’d definitely give a manual finish to all the pesky edges to ensure I get a perfect result. Since they currently have a clear stain I’ll imagine the stairs are in pretty good shape – if this is the case, you can skip the rougher grits and go right to around 80 or 120. It’ll not only make the whole process faster but it also ensures that you eliminate the old clear stain without damaging the wood’s grain or integrity. After that, you can either go right to staining or, if you want a highly polished look, you can move on up to a very fine grit like 200+ and perform another pass.

      Hope that helps Mike and I wish you the best of luck with the renovation!

  3. I enjoy watching flipping shows like Stone House Revival, Rehab Addict and Home Town. I love old wood and enjoy watching them repair and rebuild trim, doors, floors and built-ins bringing them back to their former glory. Now I would like to stain and refresh my wooden stair railings. I found your site when researching electric sanders and wood finishes.
    I am thinking of using dutch oil for a finish and a palm sander. What would you recommend for my first project.

    • Hey Kathleen, you’re not the only one – it’s always satisfying to watch experts take an old piece of wood and breathe a new life into it. For your stair railing renovation, Dutch oil is a great choice as you can’t go wrong with it, it always looks beautiful. When it comes to the sanding machine, you’re also spot on – a palm sander is nimble, small enough to fit anywhere and produces great results without tiring your arms which is great when dealing with railings. I recommend that you go with a circular orbital palm sander due to their outstanding capability of producing an excellent, scratch-free finish, even if you’re an absolute beginner. The DEWALT D26453K shown above is great, and so is the Bosch ROS20VSC, you’ll be well armed with either one of them.
      Hope that helped and good luck with your very first project Kathleen, have fun!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *