How to Use an Orbital Sander to Remove Paint in 6 Easy Steps

If you want to refurbish some old furniture, give some indoor rooms a new look, or clean up the outside walls of your old wooden house. You will need to use a sander for the best results. Keep in mind that removing paint can damage the quality of the materials if you do not follow the standard procedure and guidelines while working on your project. With that said, here’s how to use an orbital sander to remove paint effectively without damaging the quality of the material. Keep reading!

Requirements for Paint Removal

  • Orbital sander tool, if it’s corded, ensure you have enough room to maneuver from the power source
  • Sandpaper
  • Gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Dust mask
  • Earplugs
  • Protective clothes and boots
  • Clamp
  • Vacuum cleaner or air filtration system
  • Tack rag

Steps on How to Use an Orbital Sander to Remove Paint

Step 1: Take safety precautions

Though the orbit sander is not a dangerous tool, it may be if necessary measures are not taken. Most people, especially those undertaking ‘quick’ DIY projects, are unaware that sanding paint off a surface exposes them to toxins.

According to Yale, paint dust and abrasives on sandpaper can irritate the lungs if inhaled, and it may include hazardous substances such as chromium. Therefore, use safety goggles, earplugs, dust masks and other protective gear.

Step 2: Secure the item to be sanded in place.

If possible, secure the material you’re going to sand before you begin sanding. In this case, we recommend using a clamp. This will prevent the object from tilting in the middle of your work. Orbital sanders effectively create smooth edges, though only if the sanded object can move beneath the sander.

Step 3: Determining the base

There are some fundamentals before you begin sanding. The most important is finding the base beneath the paint. Remember that you should never use a chemical paint remover on anything other than molded baseboards. Use an orbital sander or a palm sander instead. 

An orbital sander can easily remove the paint to reveal the base. It will also ensure that your base is not damaged in any way. Besides, an orbital sander is also the best and most convenient option for removing paint from concrete.

Step 4: Preparing the surface

When it comes to preparing the surface for use with an orbital sander, here’s what you need to do;

a) Clean the base

Virtually every orbital sander for wood paint removal requires thorough cleaning. You can clean the surface with a grease-cutting cleaner or any all-purpose cleaning agent. But, first, thoroughly clean the surface and allow it to dry.

b) Tape the boundaries

Draw a line around the area you want to paint. To avoid sanding into undesirable areas, use tape to mark the boundaries. This way, the sander will not overdo the sanding.

c) Apply enough paint remover

Apply some paint remover and allow it to do its job. However, if any stubborn paint remains after the chemical has done its job, you can use a scraper to remove it.

Step 5: Sanding it off

After all the preparations are done, it’s time to start sanding with the orbital sander. First, select the appropriate sandpaper to go with the tool. There are different sizes of sandpaper, and the difference in the grit size determines the sanding you will end up with. To avoid damaging the surface beneath, start with large and coarse sandpaper for large areas and switch to finer sandpaper near the end. Conversely, use an orbital sander with a vacuum attachment to avoid dust accumulation.

Usually, the lower the grit of the sander, the rougher the surface. Conversely, the higher the grit number, the finer the sand. So, before sanding, ensure you have 60-grit, 80-grit, and 150-grit sandpaper. We recommend attaching some steel wool to the orbital sander for metal surfaces to give a smoother finish.

Step 6: Finishing the sanding

After you are done with the sanding, go over the entire area with a fine-toothed comb to countercheck any imperfections. However, that won’t be a problem since they are all easily fixable.

Here are some tips to help you touch up your base after you’ve removed the paint:

  • Use a pre-stain conditioner to help the color of the base last longer without looking blemished.
  • Use a palm sander for a smooth finish (not a must)
  • If there are any cracks, fill them with putty
  • Prime the surface for polishing or varnish