Drywall Sanding

This story shows different techniques and tools for sanding drywall compound for a smooth wall while reducing the mess.

Ask drywallers about the worst part of the job, and sanding will get a landslide number of votes. The fine dust clouds the air and migrates through the smallest crack to the farthest corners of your home.

But the job is a necessary evil. You can minimize the dread by having the right equipment, suiting up properly, and finding products that control dust at the source or prevent it from spreading to clean areas of your house.

Check for vacuum accessories that suck up dust before it can become a nuisance and for a plastic wall barrier system that seals off your work area.

No matter how much you may dislike sanding, don't shortchange the process. If you don't give this part of the job your best effort, all of your other hard work will be ruined. Be patient, be persistent, and you'll be rewarded.


Project time depends on the size of the room, the number of joints, and the skills of the person applying the compound

Sanding pole, hand sanding block, bright light with extension cord, dust mask, safety glasses, cap, long drywall knife for inspection

Sanding, checking your work

Joint compound applied over all seams, fasteners, and beads

Sanding screen, drywall compound for touch-ups

Step 1

To load a sander, capture one end of a die-cut sheet of sanding screen under the clamping mechanism, making certain that the abrasive sheet is square to the holder. Smooth the screen over the pad and attach its end under the other clamp. Load a hand sander by resting it on a flat surface. With a pole sander, you can lean the pad against the wall while your foot keeps the pole from slipping. When the abrasive sheet loses its cutting power, turn over the screen to reveal a fresh surface.

Step 2

Knock down nubs and ridges with your 6-inch drywall knife to speed the sanding process. Set a box fan in an open window to exhaust fine airborne particles from the work site. A pair of bungee cords holds a furnace filter on the intake side of the fan. This setup captures most of the fine dust to maintain peace with your neighbors.

Step 3

Take long strokes with the pole sander. The weight of the sanding head supplies enough pressure -- bearing down on the tool will only make you tired. To remove sanding dust from the screen, slightly lift one end of the pad from the wall and tap it.

Step 4

Use a light touch when you work into corners. The sanding screen is slightly wider than the pad; the screen folds over the edge of the pad and smoothes part of the adjacent wall. But be careful that you don't create ruts in the corners or you'll have to apply more compound to cover your blunder.

Step 5

To capture sanding dust, consider a sander that works with your shop vac to grab dust before it gets airborne. Some sanders have a hose that connects directly to a shop vac, requiring you to periodically clean its filter. Other sanders, like the one shown in the photo, have a water filter that grabs the dust before it reaches the vacuum's filter. The basic outfit includes the hand sander, and the pole sander is an optional accessory.

Comments (3)
will4do wrote:

what grit sand paper do you start with

1/3/2010 04:06:56 PM Report Abuse
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