How to Sand Drywall – Perfect Drywall Sanding Results
This post may contain affiliate links. We may earn a small commission from purchases made through them, at no additional cost to you.
Drywall, also known as sheetrock, has been a miraculous invention, especially for those budget homes. They are much cheaper to construct with than your average brick wall layered with cement, not to mention much faster. But, just because it takes less time to build does not mean it takes less effort. You cannot simply go to a hardware store and buy any old hand sander, or electric sander to use on drywall. Depending on the job at hand, you will need to use the right drywall sanding tools. This tutorial is going to show you what the best drywall sander is. We will explain how to use your drywall sanding tool, and what they are best suited for. We will explain how a dustless drywall sander is basically a drywall sander with a vacuum that is so useful.
Table of Contents
- 1 Why Drywall Sanding is Important
- 2 The Different Types of Drywall Sanders
- 3 How to Choose the Right Electric Sander
- 4 How to use a Drywall Sander
- 5 Frequently Asked Questions
Why Drywall Sanding is Important
Have you ever sanded down drywall? If you have at least seen someone attempt a project like this, you will know how much of a difficult task it can be, or at least how difficult it appears to be. Well, the truth of the matter is that it is just as hard as it looks, even with the best drywall sanding tools. The drywall hand sander or your drywall pole sander will need to be strong enough or in good enough condition to be able to sand them down the drywall, or sheetrock wall.
Your sheetrock sander is going to help you achieve a flat and even surface on the sheetrock or drywall you are putting up. If there are any bumps or grooves in the board, you can use the sander to smooth them out, no matter the nail, screws, and any joint compound that was applied too generously. This is why it is important to use an electric drywall sander. You cannot guarantee that the drywall boards will be flush, and this is your backup.
What makes them important though? Surely you could just use any old sander that you would for most woodworking jobs? This might seem obvious to some that you cannot simply use a sander unless it was designed for the purpose of sanding drywall. The normal sanders, even though they work pretty much the same way, are too powerful for the sheetrock drywall and might sand right through the material, which is predominantly cardboard.
Your average drywall sander will look very similar to a sander that is designed to be used manually, by hand. They are designed this way so that the drywall is not damaged. The sandpaper that is attached is also specially made for drywall sanding.
The best type of drywall tool, and one that neither professional construction workers nor DIY enthusiasts can ignore, is the dustless drywall sander or the drywall sander with a vacuum! This makes the job so much easier because it picks up the dust that the sander scrapes off the drywall surface as it works, making the cleaning up stage far less laborious.
The Different Types of Drywall Sanders
It is important for you to learn the differences between the various drywall sanders that are available for you to use. Each type is pretty much designed the same way with a few differences that make them each unique. They are also more suited to certain tasks, so it is good to know what your task requires of you before you can expect anything from your drywall sanding tools.
Electrically Powered Drywall Sander
An electric drywall sander is exactly how it sounds, it is powered electrically with a motor. It comes equipped with a few extra features that also make it easier to work with, and enables you to reach those difficult spaces. These features are the poles that extend out from the sander (not to be confused with a drywall pole sander), extra brushes, and the extension cord that reaches very far so you do not have to keep plugging it in. The electrical drywall sander is also a drywall sander with a vacuum, and this is epic because it sucks up the dust as you are working.
Your average sander is not as handy as this guy, because of both the vacuum that is attached for sucking up all the dust particles that are removed with the sander, as well as the brush that covers the sander’s disks which help to brush off the dust as you are working. This makes it easier because you will not have to go back to the sanded area and clean and vacuum once you are finished.
An electric drywall sander is one of the best drywall sander machines because it eliminates so much of the effort that goes into sanding drywall. The vacuum feature and brush attachments makes it so much tidier to work with. It is an all-rounder and impressive tool. The only thing to be wary of is the cost. The electrical side of things adds to the price, not to mention the added features.
Drywall Belt Sanders
It might be common knowledge that a belt sander is not exactly the easiest thing to manage. You will need to gain a bit of skill first, with a bit of practice! The belt sanders are definitely the most boisterous of all-electric sanders. This is definitely noticeable in how intense their mechanism works, the level of the sanding that takes place, and the pitch of the volume of the tool. Even sanding a board that is lying at a horizontal angle will be hard for a first-timer.
The fact that they are not easy to use does not mean it is an impossibility. There are a whole host of people who swear by the belt sander variety over that of the orbital or random orbital sander. This is largely because they do not vibrate as much thanks to their clever design, and they promise astounding results.
Newer ones can be used for drywall sanding if you have the skills, experience, and if you can find one that is easy to work with when sanding boards at a vertical angle. You may be considering using a belt sander for your sheetrock wall; however, we recommend choosing one that is lightweight, with ergonomics that are suited for the job at hand.
Random Orbital Sander
Used by the right person, this type of sheetrock sander can be an extremely versatile tool. You may find that this type of sander is able to not only sand virtually any surface it may encounter, but it does its job in the least expected manner. The typical electronic orbital sanding machine is nothing like the random-orbit sanding machine, which promises the most amazing finish to the board you are sanding. Instead of rotating like the normal orbital sander, its motion is more like an oscillation.
An added bonus of an orbital sander is that you can use it to send down your wooden decking at home, or your restaurant and it will not cause any damage to the surface of the wood. Amazingly, they are also suitable for dry wood walls, and as a result, there are many DIY enthusiasts and even professional craftsmen who like to use them as their drywall sanding tools.
Dustless Drywall Sander
Now for the dustless drywall sander, the one that just simply cannot be left out of this list. It is one of the more convenient drywall sanders because of the fact that it leaves little to no mess behind as it works. This makes the cleanup time so much faster, which is amazingly helpful after a long day of sanding. What is amazing, is that the vacuum machine that is built into the sander allows you to work on either horizontal or vertical surfaces, depending on your task hand, and the machine will suck up the dust so there will be a minimal mess on the floor.
This tool is basically like a typical sander that has been slightly adjusted to suit the needs of sanding sheetrock or drywall boards. There is a brush attached to the sanding aspect, and this sweeps the dust particles the sander lifts off the surface of the wood in its process. This then gets sucked into the storage compartment to be thrown out later. This prevents the dust from flying around the room which can be quite harmful to your health. This does not mean that you should not be wearing your protective gear, because there is still a slight chance that some of the dust gets into the air, even though the vacuum power is pretty strong.
This machine works in a specific way, to describe this let us begin with the impeller that you will find in the middle of the tool. Once a section of the wall has been sanded, the impeller will suck up any drywall dust in the way of dust. It will store it in a container to be disposed of once a section is finished. The majority of these models are vacuum-powered and can reach an unbelievable 10,000 RPM without too much effort, which means you will not need to apply so much pressure.
The Pole Sander
Love a bit of DIY? What about completing these tasks in an old-school kind of method? There are many craftsmen and DIY experts who have kept to their old methods of sanding drywall by using a pole sander. To understand how they work, think of a pivot connected to a pole that has a sander attached to it. These work perfectly as drywall hand sanders, but you will need to be prepared to work! The hand mechanism means there is some serious elbow grease involved.
This can be great for someone who wants to get down and dirty with their drywall, as a protection for their home, but not for professionals who have a large amount of sanding to do. The advantage is that the pivot allows you the freedom to change direction at any given moment. The disadvantage is that there is no dust collector, but you will also be able to feel every notch that you might miss with an electric sander.
Unlike other sanding tools, a pole sander uses a screen instead of sanding paper. This means that you will have added longevity and be able to go at the job for longer than you would with conventional sandpaper or a power sander. You may want to consider one of these as a drywall hand sander for small jobs. This is because they offer an exceptional range of movement and motion, including getting into the deeper corners, because of the rectangular contact surface.
How to Choose the Right Electric Sander
Understanding your sheetrock sander does not end with reading our recommendations. We have a shortlist of the various aspects you can look out for in the different brands. Sure enough, there are brands and machines that we have not mentioned here, that will be just as good. So, in order to make a more informed decision for yourself, keep reading these next suggestions.
It is imperative to find the most suitable drywall sander for your task at hand, and not to waste any money. By design, power tools are made to reduce the strain and energy consumption of your body and your mind, so you can more easily complete your project, stress-free. It is said that when it comes to buying a power tool, it is a bit pointless to buy a tool that lacks in the power department.
Ultimately, you just need to make sure that the output of the sanding machine is high enough to get the job at hand done correctly, ideally with minimal hassle. You might as well go and buy a drywall hand sander if your machine lacks in power that you end up using it manually anyway. This would also be a complete waste of the extra cost that these electric sanders are priced at.
The Velocity of the Motor
Velocity refers to the speed of the motor, which is reliant on the power output of the machine. The more power it gives off, the more velocity the motor will run at, making the sanding process that much easier. When you are in the shops or searching online for your ideal sanding machine, look out for the RPM reading, this will help you determine how high the machine vibrates when in use, and how high the machine’s noise is.
Top-of-the-range electric sanders will run at a max of 3000 RPM, which helps to lessen the vibration compared to typical sanders. Then again, the perfect sander for those with weaker joints like wrist-joints, is one with a much lower RPM reading, because you will not be exhausted by the constant vibration of the machine in action.
The process of drywall sanding can be a hassle due to the dust. Therefore, even if you have the most efficient drywall sander on the market, you still need to do a great deal of cleanup after the job is done. You will have less to clean up if your machine comes with a vacuum as well as a dust collector. The dust will be lifted off with the brush that is also attached, and it will fall into the dust collector, so you can throw it out later.
The machine you use will have a pipe that is attached to the main machine where the vacuum is. This pipe needs to be of a certain length to allow the freedom to move around easily whilst you are sanding. There is no length of pipe that is better than the other, but rather more suited to specific tasks. If you are working in a smaller confined space, a shorter pipe is needed. However, a longer pipe will come in handy if you are working in a large space.
How to use a Drywall Sander
Now we can start to focus on actually using the machine that you have decided on buying. Besides the obvious energy input and output of the electrical sanding machines versus the lack of power in the manual machines, most work in a very similar way – some may require a little more effort. But essentially, the process remains the same. Keep reading for some instructions on the process.
Naturally, the first step in the process of sanding down your drywall is to prepare the space in which you will be working. Lay down some plastic tarps to protect the floor from all the dust that is inevitably going to fall onto it. The tarp will also help to cut the cleaning time in half because you can fold the dust inside the plastic and take it away to be thrown out.
Make sure that you are adorned in your own plastic tarp, and by that we mean the protective gear that will protect your lungs from breathing in the dust, and the eye mask to protect your eyes as well. This will also be helpful with a pair of gloves, and an open window to allow fresh air to flow through.
Now that your workspace is properly prepared, and you yourself are properly protected, you can begin the actual sanding process. Start from one side of the panel of drywall and work your way through that section before you move on to the rest. This way the whole thing will not seem as daunting as you originally thought because you can methodically plod along with your drywall sander with vacuum, or no vacuum until the drywall panel has been sanded completely.
Sanding the Corners
Sanding the corners of your panel is definitely the trickiest part of the whole sanding ordeal. When the space is open and smooth, we had recommended using a straight-line motion, but the joints need a more controlled motion. For the corners, you will need to use a motion that goes in circles. You are able to complete this task significantly easier if you use a random orbital sander because you do not need to apply as much pressure or move around a lot in order to achieve what you want.
You can also use this rounded motion on any of the little nooks and grooves that are not easily sanded with another motion. Be careful not to apply too much pressure over these areas because the nooks and grooves could already have weak points that are even more fragile than the flat surface of the board.
We hope that you found this information helpful. When choosing a drywall sander remember to take note of the velocity of the machine, the input, and output of power, whether or not there is a vacuum attached and a dust collector to make the job that much easier. Your drywall pole sander is so much easier to use than the one without an extendable pole, particularly for the higher panels that are hard to reach. Once you have picked out the right machine for the job, you can get started. Remember to make sure the machine does not need to be powered by a vacuum suction if you do not own a vacuum.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Drywall Sanders Necessary?
If you are sanding down drywall, you could just use some sandpaper and manually do it by hand. This is because the material is so much lighter than your average wood, that it sands quite easily. Regardless, this is much more work than if you used a sanding machine.
Can I Use Any Sander on a Drywall?
You should try to avoid purchasing just any old sanding machine because drywall is a very fragile kind of material to be sanding. If the machine is too powerful it will break the surface, and ruin the flush effect. A random orbital sander is an ideal candidate to use when you are sanding a drywall panel.
What is the Sandpaper Grit Used on Sanding Machines for Drywall?
Drywall, otherwise known as sheetrock, is already one of the most fragile building materials. This means one should avoid adding too much pressure, and the grit of the sandpaper should not be as strong because it will ruin the board. The grit should be between 120 and 150.