What’s The Best Sander for Skirting Boards?
Electric sanders are designed to make light work of tasks such as sanding and polishing. But, while they might be effective for other areas, we’ve found the best electric sander for skirting boards is a powerful but compact corded model.
Using an electric sander on skirting boards can save you time and effort over using a traditional hand-held sanding, which can be hugely time consuming and very hard work. Skirting boards need sanding down in order to remove any old paint, sealant and finishes which have been applied from previous renovations or from when the skirting board was originally hung. However, you need a powerful sander for this task as it needs to be able to break down all types of material quickly so that you can continue on with surface preparation.
Remember that lead paint might be underneath the layer of paint you’re removing, so consider getting a sander with a lead containment shroud. The majority of power sanders have some sort of dust collecting shroud that will help to keep the abrasive material out of your face and away from sensitive equipment such as computers and so on.
Like most tools, it is important to use the right sander for the job, so if you’re removing paint from concrete flooring then it’s likely that you’ll need a low powered ½ sheet sander or perhaps even an orbital sander.
There are many types of power sanders on the market with varying degrees of power and features so it is important to consider the best one for the job, and that’s where we come in.
Types of Sanders
There are many different types of sanders : orbital sanders, belt sanders, disc sanders and the random orbital sander and they all have different specialities, if you like. For example, the random-orbit sanders are designed to minimise swirl marks in your floor’s finish making them the best choice for sanding your hardwood floors. Belt sanders on the other hand are useful when you wish to sand large surfaces like doors and windows, although keep in mind that they make squealing noises and leave tracks in the floor surface.
How to Sand Skirting Boards Safely
Sanding skirting boards with a belt sander is a common DIY task which you’ll find lots of videos and tutorials on the web about. Here’s how to do it correctly and safely.
If your skirting board hasn’t been touched for years (decades?) then chances are they could do with some serious renovation. The boards may be warped, crumbling, rotting or mouldy; the big problem though is that walls tend to move over time as humidity levels change; this can cause cracks in plaster or even brickwork where the skirting meets the wall. This movement will often open up gaps between the skirting and floor, allowing air to circulate behind them causing mould growth etc. So if you’ve got an old house covered in dusty old plastic then you should really give your skirting boards a bit of TLC.
This job is for the brave; make sure you’ve got some high vis gear on, proper rubber gloves (not those little latex ones!), safety goggles and work boots. You’ll also need some good quality decking brushes; the first thing to do is scrape any loose pieces of skirting board off with a knife or wire brush, this will make scraping easier later on. Then it’s time to get rid of all surface dust and grime by scrubbing them down thoroughly with a deck brush dipped in white spirit – you don’t want to be breathing in toxic fumes from volatile organic compounds! Once they’re clean they should look shiny, but if they don’t, give them another quick scrub and remove all the old paint using a scraper. Once you’ve got rid of all the loose paint use a medium grade sanding block and some 100 grit sandpaper to smooth out any lumps and bumps left behind by the scraper – again, be careful! The final step is to apply one thin coat of primer with your brush or roller, wait for it to dry then apply two thin coats of your chosen paint colour, waiting 4 hours between coats.
The sanding process
The sanding process is very important. Never sand back and forth, always sand in circles movements.
Before you start sanding get rid of any dust on the wood surface by wiping it down with a damp rag. This will get rid of any loose dirt and debris that might get stuck into your sandpaper when you start working on the job. If there are stains, then bring them out before working further on your skirting boards or architrave.
Start with a rough grit paper, 100 for example. Use 80 if there are deep grooves or scratches on the wood surface. As soon as you start using your electric sander, create some rhythm and stick to it until you finish using your sander. The 3 key factors when getting the best out of an electric sander are: speed, pressure and patience!
If your sander doesn’t have a dust bag, then use a shop vac to remove the dust that is being produced while you sand.
When your skirting boards are done, it’s time to bring out the paint or lacquer that you have chosen for the woodwork. It would be good practice to mask off all areas of the floor.
If there is some dust left on the skirting board after vacuuming it well, rub off any remaining dust with a piece of cloth or by hand so that you can see what you’re doing and don’t apply too much pressure which might cause
The sanding process can be tiring, but it’s worth the effort. To make your work easier don’t rub your skirting boards in one spot for too long – this could cause unsightly white lines and might create irregularities on the surface of your woodwork. Be sure to follow-up with light sanding if there are any spots that need touching up; allow time for the paint or lacquer to dry and then resume.
Which Sander Should you Use?
A good quality belt sander is your best friend for this job, but it’ll eat through your paint in seconds so you have to be really careful. If you’re using a belt sander then invest in some 100 or 150 grit paper and hold down the trigger until the entire surface of the piece has been covered in criss-cross scratches – this means that all of the original paint should be exposed and ready to scrape off. Just remember not to apply too much pressure and take it slow otherwise you will gouge into your pieces, which we definitely don’t want. You can use a circular detail sander for smaller areas that are harder to with a larger tool such as a belt sander.
Oribital sanders aren’t the best for skirting and architrave, especially if they’re very detailed because it’s hard to get into the smaller areas that need sanding.
Having said that, if you already have an orbital sander you can make it work if you have the patience.
Electric Sanders for Skirting Boards: Detail Sanders
Here’s our favourite detail sanders for tackling skirting boards.
Bosch 80W 240V Corded Detail sander PSM 8100A
This corded detail sander details tough to reach surfaces and slots which make it ideal for skirting and architrave.
It has variable speed control which allows you to select the optimum speed according to the material being worked.
The Bosch PSM 8100A fastens securely to any standard dust extraction system or can be used with a vacuum cleaner for dust free sanding.
The detail sander comes with 2 x 80mm sandpaper disks, 1 fine grit (P120) & 1 medium/coarse grit (P60). The detail sander also features an adjustable 3 position side handle that can be set at different angles for added comfort and better positioning of your hands whilst detailing difficult areas.
Ryobi Cordless Palm Sander R18PS-0
The Ryobi Cordless Palm Sander R18PS-0 is a tool that looks like a cat’s paw and sander in one. But it’s very effective for tackling skirting boards, architrave and similar.
Ryobi are well known for their DIY tools, but they are also one of the major manufacturers in cordless power tools. Like most other cordless tools from Ryobi, this Ryobi Palm Sander is available in several different voltage versions (18V, 14.4V and 10.8V). The sanding tool itself can be used on all common sand paper sizes between 80-180 grit, but the usual sandpaper size is 120-150mm in diameter.
The package contains a charger and battery plus sander bits for use when using it with 3x25mm screws or 2x40mm screws – even though it’s not mentioned that these are required .
This model makes very light work of door frames and dust particles are non existent if connected to dust extraction.
The Ryobi actually has better dust extraction than the Milwaukee. The Ryobi uses standard 5 inch discs and you will find these at any tool supplier. The build quality is robust and the ergonomics are good too. It doesn’t feel flimsy like other cordless tools (like this one ). Using the Ryobi 10-120HZ is easy and comfortable at all times. While using it we found that both hands need to be used in unison due to its a little awkward, but it does get the job done.
Electric Sanders for Skirting Boards: Belt Sanders
Here’s our pick of the best belt sanders for tackling skirting boards.
Erbauer 950W 220-240V Corded Belt sander EBS950
The Erbauer belt sander is a great choice if you’re working with skirting boards, architraves and window frames.
It has a large front handle for comfort and control when sanding in a vertical position, with an excellent dust extraction facility. The rear switch means you can easily turn the machine off when changing your angle of approach.
Erbauer once had a bad reputation but is now making some great belt sanders. In my experience, they’re well made and have a good power-to-weight ratio and for tackling skirting boards, don’t go too coarse or you’ll clog up the paper.
Black & Decker 350W 230V Corded Belt sander KA900E
Black and Decker belt sanders are easy to find in hardware stores like B&Q etc. It features an adjustable front handle which offers comfortable grip, dust extraction facility at rear end, lock-off button for continuous operation, top mounted trigger switch which offers good left handed use option (similar models do not offer this feature). There’s also a transparent dust cover on the belt opening door to keep dust inside when it’s closed so you can see your line of work & catch the mess promptly while working. However the dust bag is not provided.
Black and Decker are one of the most established power tool manufacturers in the UK. They have a wide range of tools that offer good value for money and according this belt sander is most certainly one of them.
The KA900E offers a good compromise of power and size, with an adjustable side handle and dust extraction port. The belt fastening system is the same as we’ve seen on other popular models such as Makita BO4556K or AEG BS 18 LI-2 , so you can expect reliable and convenient work from this model.
The machine comes fully assembled out of the box and according to the manufacturer warranty should be adjusted only by qualified technicians, yet it’s very easy to do even for those who have no experience using tools. You just need to attach belt guard (the guard is not included), which takes literally seconds as there’re 3 screws that equally tighten both parts together.
This one is often on sale at B&Q so if you’re not in a hurry, a little patience could save you a few pounds.
Cordless Belt Sander for Skirting Boards
We’ve got one cordless sander we’ve tested and its another Ryobi.
18V ONE+™ Cordless Belt Sander
The Ryobi is a belt and disc sander all-in-one. It features a 2mm orbit and built in dust extraction for less mess when working inside.
Since 2013, Ryobi has started offering power tools that are compatible with the 18V ONE+ platform. Some of these tools you can use interchangeable batteries with other tools in the Ryobi range that require this type of battery (including most cordless drills, saws & sanders), whilst others like this Belt Sander rely on dedicated batteries targeted exclusively at their range.
So if you have other Ryobi tools in the ONE+ range, this might be a very good option for you.
A dust extraction port with integrated twist lock means no additional equipment is required when working indoors.
Once locked in, this unit can suck up 60% of the dust created through sanding. This ensures an even cleaner work environment than most other tools in its category. Ryobi claims 0.5L of vacuum capacity for this sander, but I found it to be about half that amount due to some resistance when using it (please see my video above).
Ryobi offers 4 batteries for this device: P100, P102, P104 and P107 – all at 18V . They are interchangeable across all ONE+ range including the Flex range mentioned above. If you already own several iterations of these batteries or plan on buying more devices