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Orbital Sander for Paint Removal: Is It a Good Idea?

Orbital Sander Paint Removal
Written by Willie Osgood
Last Update: January 11, 2023

Do you think your surfaces need a fresh coat of paint or a new color? Paint removal can be a difficult and time-consuming task, but an orbital sander is a great way to save you time.

An orbital sander makes paint removal a breeze with its different settings. Orbital sanders work on any surface.

Here we’ll be showing you how to use an orbital sander to remove paint from a surface.

Orbital Sander for Paint Removal: Is It a Good Idea?

Using an orbital sander to remove paint is a viable option, but it is not perfect. There are both advantages and disadvantages.


  • The sander will remove paint from any surface
  • Removing paint requires little manual labor
  • The high power of an orbital sander works very fast
  • Adjustable speed and strength
  • Can use low and heavy grit interchangeably


  • The sander’s circle shape makes it difficult to sand corners
  • Too much sanding can damage the surface
  • Creates a lot of dust and the air will become toxic if you have lead-based paints

Orbital Sander Paint Removal: Step-By-Step

1. Get your PPE

Using an orbital sander will be loud and generate a lot of dust. Before you start, grab a pair of protective eyeglasses, a pair of heavy-duty gloves, and a mask that filters dust like an N95 mask. Wear old clothes or a protective suit so you don’t get dirty.

2. Organize sanding room

Things are going to get messy, so you will need to minimize the mess. Any furniture or electronics need to be moved away from the area you are sanding in.

The dust generated from the sander will fly everywhere. It can get stuck and damage your personal items. That’s why you need to move all of your stuff away before you begin.

3. Discover the base under the paint

The first thing you need to do is to find where the base of your surface is. You don’t want to use the sander on your surface. It will lead to damage and can ruin the surface. Once you discover the base, it will be easier for you to sand away the correct amount.

4. Prepare the surface

Your surface needs to be completely cleaned before you can start sanding. Any debris or gunk on the surface will cause damage to your sander and leave you with an uneven finish.

  • Use a household cleaner like a surface cleaner or a dish soap to wash away all the dirt on the surface.
  • After letting the surface dry overnight, use painter’s tape to mark where you are going to sand. If you are sanding an entire surface, skip this step.
  • Apply paint remover to the surface. Let the remover sit for at least 20 minutes.
  • Use a microfiber cloth to wipe away all of the loose paint.

5. Start sanding for paint removal

You are now ready to sand away the paint on the surface. Grab your orbital sander and let’s get started.

  • Use 60-grit sandpaper to start. This coarse paper covers a large area, so it’s good to start with.
  • Take the sander and move it in circles around the surface. Don’t put any pressure on the sander to avoid surface damage.
  • Grab a vacuum and clean all of the dust on the surface.
  • Switch to an 80-grit paper and continue to move the sander in circular motions. This paper will get the smaller bits of paint out.
  • It’s time to smooth out the surface. Take a 150 to 200-grit sandpaper and go over the entire surface until everywhere is even and smooth.

6. Inspect, seal, and finish

Once you’ve finished sanding, it’s time to check for anything you missed and fix any nicks or cuts that may have occurred. If you sanded a wood surface, there will definitely be damage.

Here’s what to do next –

  • If you have cracks, use wood putty to fill the cracks.
  • Apply wood conditioner to the surface to protect the color of the wood.

Can I use an orbital sander to remove paint from concrete?

An orbital sander is perfectly usable to remove paint from concrete. It is easier to work with than wood because it doesn’t get sanded away. Be careful not to sand too much or the concrete could break the sandpaper.


1. Is a sheet sander or orbital sander better?

Ans. The orbital sander is better overall because it gives you more options to make things easier. A sheet sander is good for fine details or small jobs.

About the author

Willie Osgood

An Avid Metalworker

Willie doesn’t really consider himself an artist, rather a craftsman involved in practical trades. Yet, most of his projects require him to make interesting and fine objects. Being the eldest son of a carpenter, his background is 100 percent rooted in crafting. He found the art of blacksmithing quite appealing since his teenage years… that fire, the sound of swinging hammers, and those long and shiny blades that came out as a finished product. Soon he literally became obsessed with metal – the way it moved, worked, and changed when heated or cooled.

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