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Wagner Paint Eater Review

Updated on August 29, 2017
Matt G. profile image

Matt is a professional painter sharing house painting tips and product reviews.

Paint Eater Pros and Cons

The Wagner Paint Eater is a rotating disc sander that does work well for removing peeling paint, but like most power tools, the sander isn't without its flaws. Having owned two of these for my painting business, I will share the pros and cons and whether or not I recommend this tool.

Advantages

  • Paint removal speed. The abrasive 3M sanding disc breaks down loose paint fast, eliminating the horrid task of scraping.
  • Sands edges easily. Scraping peeling paint from the edge of a board is a pain. This tool removes loose paint from the edges of exterior trim boards in one or two passes. It worked well for me at removing peeling paint from the bottom edges of siding boards I was preparing for stain.
  • Sanding disc durability. The 3M sanding discs aren't cheap, but they're very thick and last a while if you don't push down too hard while sanding. I was able to remove old stain from a whole deck using only two discs.
  • Changing the disc is easy. A small locking mechanism underneath makes unscrewing and replacing a worn disc very easy.

Disadvantages

  • Surface gouging. The Paint Eater will eat wood too if you aren't careful. The motor is very powerful, and the highly abrasive sanding disc will leave indentations and round out corners if you use it too forcefully. I have damaged boards without applying much pressure, using this machine. You also need to absolutely wear protective gloves during operation or risk losing skin.
  • Sanding disc expense. The sander comes with one 3M disc, but the replacement discs cost about $12 each. An entire package of sanding discs for a rotating orbit sander can be purchased for the same price, but this tool only accepts the matching 3M disc.
  • No dust collection bag. Unless you're willing to get creative with your shop vac, this tool is best used outside only, not in your shop. When sanding, it produces an incredible amount of dust, creating a huge mess. A dust mask is a must.
  • Heavy weight. I used this tool to remove peeling paint from all of the siding on a house and my arm was destroyed at the end of the day. Sanding a deck is much easier, but holding up the weight vertically, all day, is uncomfortable after eight hours. The handle is adjustable, but it doesn't help much for comfort.
  • Small cord. The cord needs to be knotted when used with an extension cord to avoid disconnection during use. The small cord also makes it nearly impossible for use without an extension cord. The cord position is also annoying when working off of a ladder.

Is the Wagner Paint Eater Worth the Money?

The first unit I owned lasted about three years until the motor stopped working completely while sanding a deck. I bought a replacement and one month later the motor on the new one stopped working and wouldn't turn on again.

To be fair, I did use the sander a lot, but at the cost of $70, I would expect a brand new replacement to last longer than one month. I was able to replace the second one under warranty, at zero cost.

Based on the motor failure I experienced twice, I can't recommend this sander for anyone who plans on using it several times for large projects. I have since purchased a random orbit sander that is more versatile and reliable for my painting projects. The Wagner sander does perform well, but the motor quality is obviously poor, based on my experience with this product. For occasional homeowner use though, I'm sure this product will likely last longer.

I still use the Paint Eater for small exterior paint preparation tasks, but for larger projects, I use my random orbit sander. With a random orbit sander I don't have to worry as much about damaging the wood, making it possible for me to sand more delicate areas around exterior windows and doors.

I believe the lack of a dust collector allows sanding dust to backup into the motor area over time, causing failure. Not having a dust collector bag is also very messy and eliminates the option of using it indoors.

© 2017 Matt G.

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