Best Sanders to Remove Paint

We compared 3 sanders to remove paint from a dresser, and it was obvious after that, which ones are the best sanders to remove paint.

When sanding furniture, it’s essential to find the right one for your project so let’s dive in!

SurfPrep 3x4 Sander, Ryobi Corner Cat Detail Sander and SurfPrep 5" Orbital Sander

We primed a dresser with some waterbased 123 primer, and even after 10 days of it drying, it was scratching off easily. So we had to remove it and start our project over.

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The Best Sander to Remove Paint

But while we sanded, we compared 3 of the different types of sanders for furniture.

(Check out the best sanders for furniture to learn more about each sander!)

SurfPrep 3×4 Sander VS. SurfPrep 5″ Orbital Sander

First, we compared the SurfPrep 3×4 Sander VS. the SurfPrep 5″ Orbital Sander. We used 80 grit SurfPrep sanding screens on each sander. (Use code RAY10 to get 10% off your order.)

Both were on their highest speed, and I tried to sand quickly with both. I set a timer for 5 minutes and sanded 1 side of the dresser with the SurfPrep 3×4 sander. When the timer rang, I stopped.

And then I did the same thing on the other side of the dresser with the SurfPrep 5″ Orbital Sander. And here are the results!

SurfPrep 3×4 Sander

In 5 minutes, this is how much I had sanded with the SurfPrep 3×4 sander.

sanding paint from dresser with surfprep 3x4 sander

There was a small area about 7″ tall x 6.5″ wide, that I hadn’t sanded. But, I was able to sand to the edge and in the corner all of the way.

how much paint was left over after sanding with SurfPrep 3x4 Sander for 5 minutes

And yeah, there were still some areas where there were spots of paint.

SurfPrep Orbital Sander

In 5 minutes, this is how much I sanded with the SurfPrep 5″ Orbital Sander.

sanding furniture with the surfprep 5" orbital sander

There was another area, this time just slightly larger at about 8.5″ tall x 9″ wide, that I hadn’t sanded. But, I wasn’t able to get as close to the edges, and I couldn’t get into the corner, either.

Check out my honest SurfPrep 5″ Orbital Sander review here.

how much paint was left after sanding with SurfPrep 5" Orbital Sander for 5 minutes
paint left after sanding with SurfPrep 5" Orbital Sander for 5 minutes

Another Comparison

My husband sanded the top of the dresser, working from the edge doing the same comparison. His comparison was a little harder to see, but they look about equal.

sanding top of the dresser with Surfprep 3x4 sander vs surfprep orbital sander

SurfPrep 3×4 Sander VS Ryobi Corner Cat Detail Sander

So, then we tested the SurfPrep 3×4″ sander VS the Ryobi Corner Cat Sander that I recommend using as a SurfPrep Sander alternative if you aren’t able to invest in the SurfPrep Sander.

You should also check out my list of the best detail sanders here.

Ryobi Corner Cat Detail Sander

We didn’t have SurfPrep’s sanding screens that fit this sander, but we wanted it to be a fair comparison.

So I cut a couple of SurfPrep’s 80 grit sanding screens to the shape of the detail sander.

sanding screen cut to fit ryobi detail sander

And then, since we didn’t have 2 more sides to test on, we tested on the drawers. I set my timer for 5 minutes again and started sanding.

a drawer sanded with the ryobi detail sander

By the time I sanded all of that rectangle area, there was 1 minute and 17 seconds left on the timer. So it took 3 minutes and 43 seconds to sand this much.

sanding drawer with ryobi corner cat sander

One major downside of the Ryobi Corner Cat Detail Sander, in this case, was its shape.

It was hard to get the front and back edges because of the point. And then the other end of the sander isn’t completely squared off or flat, so it’s hard to get it right up to the edges too.

The hose connection also got in the way in this case and scratched the raised trim.

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SurfPrep 3×4 Sander

Then I sanded another drawer with a fresh 80 grit sanding screen and the SurfPrep 3×4 Sander. Holy moly! It was so fast.

By the time I sanded all of that rectangle area, there was 3 minutes and 34 seconds left on the timer. So it took 1 minute and 26 seconds to sand this much.

sanded drawers with surfprep 3x4 sander

A major time saver was the shape of the sander. It was easy to get into all of the edges and corners. It also seemed to sand faster, even in the middle of the drawer when the edges weren’t a factor.

sanding drawer with surfprep 3x4 sander

Looking back at the videos I took, the Ryobi sander took about a minute to sand the middle between the hardware holes. The SurfPrep 3×4″ sander took about 30 seconds for the same area.

Watch the comparison video here!

Best Sander to Remove Paint

In the end I was blown away. I thought that the Orbital Sander was going to sand faster than the 3×4! But nope, the 3×4 seemed to be just slightly faster.

I wasn’t shocked that the 3×4″ sander did better than the Ryobi detail sander. But, I was shocked that it was that much faster!

So what’s the best sander to remove paint?

In this comparison, the SurfPrep 3×4″ Sander outshined the other sanders! (Use code RAY10 to get 10% off your order)

holding surfprep 3x4 sander

It’s more versatile than the others and can get into areas that the others can’t. And it sanded faster than the others too.

Best Sandpaper for Removing Paint from Wood

In this comparison, I used the sanding screens because I feel like they outperform every other type of sandpaper.

Sanding Screens stay sharp for longer, they don’t get as clogged up (and when they do get clogged, you can lightly rub them against other sandpaper to remove the clogging.

And I feel like they just remove paint better than other sandpaper. Diablo sand net and SurfPrep sanding screens are the only ones I’ve tried, but they both work very well.

Learn more about sandpaper for furniture painting here.

What grit sandpaper to remove paint from wood?

To remove paint from wood, start with a lower number of grit sandpaper. The lower the grit, the more aggressive it is.

I like to start with 100 grit sandpaper, because it’s not as aggressive as some, but it will still remove paint.

If it takes way too long to remove the paint with 100 grit, then I change it out for 80 grit. If the 100 grit sandpaper removes the paint easily, great!

Why don’t I like to start with 80 grit? Because I don’t know what kind of wood is under the paint. If the paint comes off easily, and there is wood veneer under the paint, I don’t want to sand through the thin veneer and ruin it.

If I use 80 grit sandpaper to remove most of the paint, then I move up to 120 grit sandpaper and sand everything again to smooth it out.

Then I move to 180 grit sandpaper, and then 220 grit sandpaper to end with a smooth feel.

It’s best to move through the grits, (you can skip 1 grit at a time) to slowly remove the deep scratches slowly. Moving through the different grits will also help you not have sanding swirls in the wood when you’re done sanding.

Learn more about how to sand down wood here.

Here is a great variety pack of SandNet sandpaper that comes with the grits you need!

How to remove paint from wood without sanding

I’m not going to lie, sanding to remove paint from wood is a long job. This 9 drawer dresser took us a day to remove the paint. Mostly because we had to get into the crevices by hand.

You can remove paint from wood by using a chemical stripper. But, it isn’t necessarily any faster. But it takes less elbow grease.

Here are some tutorials on removing paint from wood with a chemical stripper.

You can also try using a carbide scraper to remove paint. But it’s going to take a lot of elbow grease.

More Sander Resources

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