SurfPrep Sander Alternative

When you don’t have the budget for an expensive SurfPrep Sander, but you want one so bad, what do you do? Here’s a great SurfPrep Sander Alternative to get you through!

Learn more about our favorite SurfPrep Sander here!

ryobi detail sander with foam pads and ridgid shop vac

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Some of the biggest reasons to buy a 3×4 Electric Ray SurfPrep Sander is to get access to:

  • their amazing foam pads
  • the ability to get into corners easily
  • and the vacuum compatibility to suck up dust
Surfprep sander with 1/2" foam pad sanding furniture

But, you don’t necessarily have to buy a SurfPrep to get all of those things.

*Note: Obviously, there are more things that make a SurfPrep sander a great sander, but those 3 features are the top reasons I’ve seen for wanting to get a SurfPrep.

Not all sanders are built as well, and most budget friendly sanders don’t have variable speeds.

Not to mention the SurfPrep sander is super quiet. (Until you turn your shop vac on to collect the dust haha).

If you’re just looking for the basics though, here are some alternatives to get you through!

The Best SurfPrep Sander Alternative on a Budget

So, the best Budget Friendly SurfPrep Sander Alternative, in my opinion, is the

All in all, getting the Ryobi sander, the shop vac, and the adapter is around a 1/3 of the price compared to getting the SurfPrep 3×4 electric sander with the hose, adapter, and shop vac setup!

ryobi detail sander attached to shop vac hose with adapter
closeup of ryobi detail sander attached to shop vac hose with adapter

MORE about SurfPrep Sanders

SurfPrep Sander Alternative

Here’s how you can turn a budget friendly sander into all of these things!

The Amazing Foam Pads

These foam sanding pads are SO DARN GOOD!

They make it possible to use an electric sander on curves and details!

If you try to take an orbital sander to furniture or trim, you’ll end up ruining the shape!

But these foam pads contour to the shape of the furniture or trim work, so you can sand without ruining the details!

But how do you recreate that for a regular ole sander??

SurfPrep actually makes foam pads that will fit other sanders!

You can buy SurfPrep foam pads for your own

  • 5″ or 6″ orbital sander
  • rectangular sander
  • detail (mouse) sander!
closeup of sanding pad on curves of furniture

They come in the 3 different thicknesses, 5mm, 10mm, and 1/2″.

They even have options with no holes or holes!

*Note: Pay attention to the hole spacing and the exact size of the foam pads compared to your sander!

Check out all of the SurfPrep Foam Pads for other types of sanders here!

I believe these foam pads were actually made to be compatible with the high end Festool sanders, so the holes and dimensions might be a little bit off for budget friendly sanders.

I think for a budget friendly option though, this is a great alternative!

Sanding Inside Corners

If you own an orbital sander, you know how big of a pain it is to sand in corners.

And furniture has a lot of corners to get into!

So, instead of using an orbital sander, use a detail (mouse) sander or a rectangular sander.

ryobi detail sander in the corner

Both are able to get into corners because they have straight edges instead of being a circle.

Enough said right?

Attach to a Vacuum

I absolutely love that I can sand furniture inside of my home without worrying about dust flying everywhere!

So, if you want to replicate the SurfPrep, get a sander that you can attach a shop vacuum hose to!

(Make sure your shop vac is powerful enough to suck up all the dust! SurfPrep recommends at least 5 HP!)

I have this Ridgid Shop Vac hooked up to my SurfPrep using the 1 1/4″ Ridgid hose.

Orbital Sander

This Ridgid Orbital Sander can easily hook up to either of the Ridgid Shop Vac hoses (1 1/4″ or the 2 1/2″ hose)!

But, that’s an orbital sander, so it won’t help you get into the corners.

Detail Sander

But, with an adapter, this Ryobi Detail Sander can hook to your shop vac too!

1 1/4" to 1 1/2" coupling

**Note: I used the 1 1/4″ to 1 1/2″ coupling in these photos. But I have since traded it for the 1″ to 1″ coupling. (The dimensions on the coupling indicate what size it can tighten down to, and are about 1 3/8″ wide inside before you tighten it down.) And then I attached it to the end part of my hose that attaches to other accessories.

Since the PVC is flexible, you can tighten it a little bit and get a good seal, even if the dimensions don’t exactly match the dust port or your shop vac hose.

tightening the coupling onto the sander and shop vac hose

But, you definitely want the dimensions to be close!

The Ryobi detail sander has a dust port opening that is 1 3/8 inches (outside) and 1 1/8 inches (inside).

And the Ridgid Shop Vac hose is 1 1/4 inches.

It’s definitely not the SurfPrep sander, but if you’re on a tight budget, and want something with these features, it’s a pretty good option until you can upgrade!

Check out this video I made about my SurfPrep Sander. Near the end I show the alternative surfprep sander setup!

More Resources

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7 Comments

  1. Susan Ciaburri says:

    I can’t thank you enough for this information!!
    I’ve been searching for an alternative to the SurfPrep for year’s.
    (Until I can afford one ) ?
    Just ordered a multi set…

  2. You’re a life saver! I’m buying the foam pads now for my sander!

  3. Cheryl Atkinson says:

    Wow, i didn’t know Surf Prep had foam pads for normal sanders!! Thank you for that information. There is no way i can afford a surf prep sander. My business is small.

  4. Donna Kolb says:

    Hello, thank you for your video.. It was so informative. But I did go out and buy a Ryobi rectangle hand sander and ordered the foam sanding paper from SerfPrep. I wish I had ordered the Ryobi detail sander (the one with the pointed front) like I see in the video you made. I guess I misunderstood and thought it would work on the Ryobi rectangle sander but I cannot figure out how to attach the foam sand paper to the sander. It has these bracket holder things on the side and the SurfPrep sandpaper isn’t that wide, maybe on the detail Ryobi sander you were using it held on by velco?? Is that how SurfPrep foam sanding paper holds on? This has been so frustrating and now I have the foam sanding paper that I can’t put on anything. Help! Thank you

    1. Oh no!
      Yep, the SurfPrep sandpaper is held on with hook and loop (velcro). And yeah, the rectangle sanders after have those hooks to hold the sandpaper on. So the square sander isn’t going to work with the SurfPrep foam sandpaper.

  5. Where do you get the sander

    1. There are links in this post that take you right to home depot so you can buy the sander.

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