What is an orbital sander and how is it different to other sanders?

Front on view of orange orbital sander in action
(Image credit: Getty Images)

What is an orbital sander? It's obviously a sander and a power tool, but what makes it different from a standard sander? It’s the shape of the sanding head and the action it provides that separates it from other powered sanders.

On the surface, all the best orbital sanders do very much the same job. They have a lot of similarities, but it's subtle differences that make an orbital sander ideal for specific sanding jobs as well as everyday DIY sanding tasks.

Here we take a look at what an orbital sander is, what it's good for and the best type of sandpaper to use for different projects.  

Steve Jenkins

Steve Jenkins is a freelance content creator with over two decades of experience working in digital and print and was previously the DIY content editor for Homebuilding & Renovating. 

He is a keen DIYer with over 20 years of experience in transforming and renovating the many homes he has lived in. He specialises in painting and decorating, but has a wide range of skills gleaned from working in the building trade for around 10 years and spending time at night school learning how to plaster and plumb.

He has fitted kitchens, tiled bathrooms and kitchens, laid many floors, built partition walls, plastered walls, plumbed in bathrooms, worked on loft conversions and much more. And when he's not sure how to tackle a DIY project he has a wide network of friends – including plumbers, gas engineers, tilers, carpenters, painters and decorators, electricians and builders – in the trade to call upon.