by inPAINT

down_se_etsec125a_571894_a_24aYou could be the most experienced painter and buy the very best paint and top-of-the-line brushes, rollers and sprayers—but if you aren’t working with a good surface, none of that matters.

If you’re working with a large surface that must first be sanded, you’ll want a power sander that is up to the task.

So we asked four pros for their recommendations.







Randall Reese uses a sander on nearly every job. The owner of LVX Painting in Newport, KY, has these three DeWALT sanders in his arsenal: one 5″ Random Orbit Sander and two 1/4-Sheet Palm Grip Sander Kits.

He chose to standardize his power tools by manufacturer to keep batteries consistent across the board. “And I chose DeWALT because they have a superior product line and have a product in every category of power tool,” he says.

One drawback, however, is that the DeWALT sanders don’t hook up to a HEPA vacuum, he notes.

That’s why Reese recently added these Festool sanders to the mix: an RO 90 DX Multi-Mode Rotex Sander, an LS 130 EQ Linear Detail Sander, and an RO 125 FEQ Multi-Mode Rotex Sander. “That one completely removes paint—and wood— if you’re not careful!” he says.

He purchased these sanders specifically for dealing with the removal of lead paint. Reese’s company works mostly in the residential space and members of his team have lead-safe certifications.

When used with Festool’s HEPA dust extractors, the sanders promise to be virtually dust-free, which makes them perfect for work on lead-based paint.


As a woman in the male-dominated field of painting, Susie Hall says her small stature is partly what drives her choice of sanders. Hall, who does mostly residential interiors, owns Ideal Painting in Merrimack, NH, and loves her PORTER-CABLE 7800 Drywall Sander with Dust Collection.

“I sand all my walls,” she says. “It gives me better adhesion for the paint.” Before discovering her current sander, she had been sanding everything by hand. Then, she rented a PORTER-CABLE 7800 for two days.

“I said, ‘I have to own one these,’” she says. “It was well worth the investment. It’s paid for itself tenfold.”

She loves the ability to angle the wand and navigate a wall’s contours.

“It takes just a little bit of pressure to sand down old paint and get rid of any imperfections,” she says. “It does a beautiful job.”

Plus, she says, it’s increased her productivity tremendously. “In 20 minutes, I can get done what would take two hours otherwise,” she notes. “And it does a much better job.”


Scott Burt, owner of Topcoat Finishes in Vermont, knows a good power sander needs to be in his truck.

“We have to be prepared,” he says. “So, I’ll carry two or three sanders that can do everything possible.” For his money, Burt likes Festool’s sanders.

His favorite for everyday projects is Festool’s RO 90 DX Multi-Mode Rotex Sander.

“It’s a good, all-purpose sander,” he notes. “It has three different modes of operation, which gives a lot of flexibility for one tool. Because it can do a lot of things, I always have that one in my truck.”

Burt’s other go-to power sander is Festool’s 5″ Random Orbit Sander ETS EC125/3.

“The brushless technology reduces the vibration, which is great,” he says. Plus, Burt adds, this compact tool consumes less power and produces less heat than other sanders. Festool’s HEPA dust extractors are another great selling point for Burt.

“We do a lot of sanding on decks, porches, garage doors and thresholds, and with the Festool system, we can be sure we’re not blowing dust on the side of the house,” he says. “Our customers really appreciate that.”

Topcoat, which has been in business since 1996, also does a great deal of work in its two shops. For door, trim and cabinetry work, they like Festool’s fine-finish sanders and find that the dust extractors offer a tremendous advantage.

“The dust extractor gives us complete control over the environment,” he says. “We really appreciate the HEPA filters for the cleanliness of the work environment.”


With a focus on residential customers, Louis Buchetto works as a handyman and painter in Sacramento, CA. Over the years, he’s taken on more and more cabinet refinishing work, and his DeWALT 5″ Random Orbit Sander has been a steady companion.

Great for trim and woodwork, including cabinets and doors, this sander is lightweight, yet powerful, Buchetto says. It’s also built to last, he adds.

“I’ve replaced a part here and there, but I’ve had mine for 10 or 12 years,” he says.

While his DeWALT is a reliable sander, a new product is starting to edge it out for exterior work: the WAGNER PaintEater.

“It’s not technically a sander, but it replaces a sander,” he says. “It’s amazing for removing paint—even latex paint, which is very hard to do.”

It promises to remove peeling paint without damaging the substrate.

Plus, the PaintEater, which Buchetto cautions is not for use on bare wood, has one feature in particular that he loves: one disc covers an impressively large surface area, which comes in handy for a job with a lot of exterior trim.

“If I were using a sander, I’d have to stop every two to three minutes to change the disc,” he says. “And when you’re up on a ladder, that’s a pain.” You’ll save a lot of money on discs and find great results with it, he says

“Sanding a house that has peeling paint and irregular surfaces painted with today’s latex paint is really difficult,” he says. “This thing gets those irregular transitions to be quite smooth. It’s a super, super product.”

Indeed, he loves his PaintEater. “I’d like to start a religion around this tool,” he says, only half-joking.


Current Issue

Current IssueRead the current issue in page-turner format.





Free Subscription

Sign up for your FREE subscription to inPAINT magazine, delivered directly to your mailbox.

Sign up