Best Sanders for Removing Paint 2024

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All claims are strictly my personal opinion.

best sander for removing paint

Paint removal is a tricky business that can give you a few headaches and, without the proper tools, disappointing results. I speak from experience!

Fear not though, over the years I’ve formed a strong opinion on which machines are the very best sanders for removing paint and I’ll be sharing them with you today. They make paint removal a breeze and most importantly, you’ll get stunning results.

If you’re looking for the best machines to use for wall sanding in particular, I’ve written a separate article on it which you can read by clicking here.

I’ll start by showing you which type of sander is best for this and then I’ll present to you my personal favorites.

Best Sanders for Paint Removal

To successfully remove paint, you need a powerful handheld machine that can dominate rough stock quickly and easily. Due to these requirements, both random orbital sanders and belt sanders are fantastic choices.

  1. Random Orbital Sanders
  2. Belt Sanders

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

Those are the best types of sander to deal with paint removal. They are both potent enough to easily sand old and rough paint and are also fast enough to deliver a fantastic high-quality finish in the end. Now, on to my favorites!

Top 5 Best Sanders for Removing Paint

Let’s start with what is, in my opinion, the absolute best sander to remove paint.

My favorite sander of all time. The Bosch 1250DEVS delivers mountains of power, tank-like durability, comfortable grips and a beastly turbo-mode to ensure it can take on absolutely anything, no matter how rough the paint is. With a random orbital motion to boot, it gives you stunningly high-quality, scratch-free results.

Big 6″ sanding pad
 Mind blowing power
 Will last more than a lifetime

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Festool keeps their tradition of delivering elite-quality machines with the ETS 150. With an output of 10,000 RPMs on the big 6″ sanding pad, it’s a fast one and the dust collection is second to none. With superb build-quality, modern features and an advanced design, the ETS 150 is a truly superb sander that will impress even weathered professionals.

Big 6″ sanding pad
 Very fast and potent
 Incredible craftsmanship

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With the 9903, Makita delivers a potent and beautifully well-made belt sander that is sure to dominate any paint removal task you throw at it. It runs the 3″ by 21″ belt at 1,440 Feet Per Minute, ensuring it can take on anything and the dust extraction is superb too. Excellent machine.

 Fantastic potency
 Excellent build-quality
 Professional performance

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The Hitachi SB8V2 is popular due to its unbeatable value – it offers professional performance at an extremely inexpensive price. Featuring a 3″ by 21″ belt, it runs at 1,475 FPM easily competing with the 9903 in power. While the construction quality isn’t quite as good as the Makita, the insane price-tag makes it a fantastic choice.

 Sturdily built
 Fantastic power
 Great bang for your buck

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The Makita 9031 trades belt width in favor of higher speeds and boy is it fast. With a thinner 1-1/8″ by 21″ belt it manages to run at an absolutely stunning 3,280 FPM. If you put a course grit sanding belt on this thing, it’s an unstoppable monster. The front-facing belt design also gives you unbeatable versatility.

Insanely fast
 Comfortable grip
 Front-facing design gives you more versatility

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UPDATE: Bonus #6

Makita GV7000C Vertical Disc Sander
Even though it’s not as versatile as its circular cousin, the orbital sander, it’s not made to be. Its purpose is to destroy old rough stock and paint with ease and it does so beautifully well. The design and pistol grip handle makes it a joy to use and the results speak for themselves, a great choice.

Potent motor
 Huge 7″ sanding disc
 Fantastic pistol-grip design

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Any of these will make removing paint a piece of cake. They’re able to decimate the old paint in seconds, no matter how rough, and then deliver a high-quality smooth finish that will make the surface look fresh and brand new.

I’ve also often been asked which machines would be the best sanders for car paint removal. That takes a slightly different type of sander, although one of the above (the Festool) is beyond great for it as well!

Best Sanders for Car Paint Removal

Both of the Dynabrade machines shown are random orbital pneumatic (air-powered) sanders. They are beloved by bodyshops all over the world due to their excellence when dealing with car-paint and even buffing car bodies. The “Supreme” series are especially excellent, they are the very best line. You can also get the “Spirit” series ones, they are similar but have less power and are cheaper.
The Festool ETS 150 is on par as well, ranking as my personal pick for the best electrical sander for paint removal in the market. Its unique 1/8″ stroke and golden performance make it a regular appearance in any quality car bodyshop.

The famous Dynorbital Supreme is the definition of excellence when it comes to pneumatic orbital sanders. This 5″ pad variation has all the qualities of the bigger version but is a bit cheaper.

5″ Sanding Pad
 Lifetime Warranty
 Excellent power and performance

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The 6″ version of the Dynorbital Supreme. This beauty runs at 12,000 RPMs, providing excellent performance when removing car paint and is also nearly indestructible. It’s easily, in my view, the best air sander for car paint removal you can get.

 6″ Sanding Pad
 Lifetime Warranty
 Excellent power and performance

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The Festool ETS 150 is a superb sander for car paint removal. The construction quality is one of the best and so is the design and features. Its 1/8th stroke and 10,000 RPMs ensure that it delivers high-quality finishes and its famous dust extraction will keep your surface completely clean. With a power lock-on to boot, it truly is the best electrical sander for removing car paint.

Big 6″ sanding pad
 Very fast and potent
 Incredible craftsmanship

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And there you go, my personal picks for the best sanders to remove paint are right there for the taking. Remember to use low grit sandpaper at first to easily remove the old paint and then start scaling up to a higher grit to achieve finer and finer finishes as you go.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading and that I’ve helped you pick your brand new machine.

Thanks for the visit and don’t forget to leave your opinion below!


  1. Painting Contractor

    A Lot of important information is collected from this blog. Very detailed plenty of useful information here. Good work!

  2. Hi James!
    We have wood trim on the exterior of our home. It is looking rough – peeling/cracking finish and the wood is starting to look dark. I am sure we need to sand and re-stain(?) the trim. But I am wondering which sander would be best?


    • Hey Jen, I’d definitely go with a random orbital sander so both the Bosch 1250 DEVS and the Festool ETS 150 are superb choices – they’re perfect for this type of work, easy to use and deliver excellent results. Hope that helps and good luck with the renovation!

  3. I want to paint an old picket fence, which sander should I use to remove old paint?
    I don’t want heavy one as I have very weak wrists.
    I was going to sand by hand but dreading doing this!

    • Hey Carole! If you’ve got weak wrists, a palm sander is definitely the best option – head on over to that section by clicking on the main menu above as I’ve extensively reviewed and compared my top picks on the market. They’re compact, lightweight and get the job done!

  4. Hi James,

    We are in the process of renovating our 100 year old home. We want to re stain all of the trim and baseboards in the home. Which sander would you recommend for this job?

    • Hey Aaron – first of all sorry for the delay on my response, I was completely drowned with work! For that renovation job I’d certainly go with either the Bosch 1250DEVS or the Festool ETS – they’re both random orbital sanders which makes them just perfect for that type of work (versatile, effective, easy to move around). Hope that helps and good luck with your renovation Aaron!

  5. Hi James,
    The Hitachi SVHB2 belt sander has been discontinued and the company is now Metabo. When searching for the belt sander u recommended the company redirects to Metabo HPT belt sander. It’s a great price too but I wouldn’t want a product that is inferior to your suggestions. Any thoughts on this?

    Thank you!

    • Hey Amy – the brand name itself changed but the machine stays exactly the same (same design, performance, specifications and so on) with only the dust bag changing logos to reflect the new brand. On top of it all, the price is further reduced, making it a better choice than ever. Hope that helps and have a great day!

  6. Hi James,
    I need to re stain the outside of a house that has plywood siding with wood slats. There are area’s of the plywood that have gotten rough looking so was thinking I should sand it before re staining. Will sanding make the plywood smooth again?

    • Hey Jill, you can (and should) absolutely sand plywood before re-staining it. Before you do though, take a look at the grain and thickness of it – this will give you an idea of how deep and hard you can sand it. In general, I recommend going for a higher grit sandpaper from the start, something like 120 or even 200, to ensure that you get a nice smooth finish without damaging the plywood. Thanks for the great question and best of luck with the renovation!

  7. Hello James,

    Your suggestions , is it suitable to remove paint from concrete plaster (cement and sand mix)

    • Hey David, they absolutely are. The best choices on the list for concrete plaster walls are the Bosch 1250DEVS and the Festool ETS 150/3 – any of these will be perfect to deal with that surface with ease, giving you excellent results and a tool that’ll last a lifetime.

  8. Do you have a recommended sand for sanding thick paint off of drywall. I know it can easily wreck the drywall. My wife is chemically sensitive to paint and we cannot get a 4 coat job (applied poorly by contractor) to cure. We may never be able to occupy. Have tried everything else.

    • Hey James, you’re absolutely right – drywall sanding is tricky – but I’ve got you covered with a full article on this subject that you can read here. Hope that helps and thanks for stopping by – be sure to tell me if you need any further guidance, I’ll be here!

    • What would you recommend to get painted plaster off of dry wall? We just bought a house that has faux bricks that I would like to remove from the walls without having to replace the dry wall. Not sure if the above recommendation still apply. Thanks!

      • Hey Sharon – the machines above apply just as well to that situation. All of them will easily remove the painted plaster and leave the drywall safe and sound behind, just be sure to use a higher grit after the first pass or simply use a finer grit from the start (it’ll be easier to safely stop before damaging the drywall). Thanks for stopping by and good luck with the renovation!

  9. Hi James, did you test the Festool RAS 115 for paint removal? I’m repainting my cedar shakes and I’ve got it narrowed down to the Bosch and the RAS. My impression is the RAS is faster but is more of a scorched earth approach whereas the Bosch might be more work but leave a better finished surface.

    • Hi Adam, I don’t own the RAS 115 but I have had the opportunity to try it and it’s an absolutely beautiful machine for hardcore material removal. Those 500 watts of power put into the 4.5″ pad make for an unstoppable combination. As you mentioned though, it’s not the best when it comes to finishing as the pad is a bit small and it doesn’t have random orbital motion – it’s a rotary sander instead. In short, your analysis was absolutely correct – the RAS is unbeatable for focused material removal while the Bosch DEVS manages to still offer vicious power but also allow for excellent finishing capabilities. Hope that helped, they’re both are wonderful choices.
      Thanks for stopping by Adam and good luck with the cedar shakes!

  10. I have an orbital sander that I’m hoping to use to remove house paint. I’m assuming there are a few layers on there. What kind of disc would you recommend? Straight sandpaper (x thousands of sheets) or something else?

    • Hey Dave, as long as you use low grit sandpaper you’ll clear the layers quickly and easily without having to go through endless sheets. While it will depend on the state of the paint, be sure to start with around 50 grit and then, if you’re either getting too close to your desired layer or want to end it with a nice, polished finish (ready to take another coat of paint, a varnish, or whatever it may be) simply move on up to a finer grit like 120 or more. The rougher grits will very quickly remove paint so be careful not to spend too much time or apply too much pressure on the same spot. Hope that helped!

  11. Hey James, this article was really remarkable, especially because I was searching for thoughts on paint removal for so long but couldn’t find a solid article. Yours blew everyone out of the water, thank you so much for the tips and fantastic machine recommendations!

  12. Hey James, I got both the Makita belt sander and the Bosch ROS as I’m in the middle of a big house renovation. Best purchases I’ve done in my life, you’re the man!

    • Hey Charlie, good luck with the renovations – with the right tools they can be a lot of fun. Thanks for stopping by!

  13. Quality guide, I decided to get the Festool as I can see it’s very versatile. I want to be able to use it for paint and any other task that comes up. Have a great day James and keep it up!

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