How To Sand Drywall: 4 ways to Stop Making A Mess

How To Sand Drywall

When you have walls made of drywall, the most important part of the project is to sand drywall if you wish your walls to have a good finish.

After the joint compound of the drywall dries off completely, you can start sanding your wall while focusing on the uneven sections giving it a flawless finish.

The most common ways to sand your walls is to use a power sanding machine, dry sanding, and wet sanding. Sanding the whole house is an extensive process and therefore many prefer to hire contractors.

In this article, we will look into all the methods of sanding to help you choose your preferred method. Also, we will talk about common sanding mistakes and how to avoid them.

The major problem while sanding is dealing with dust. We will find out different ways to minimize dust and protect your surrounding and yourself from dust.

Last, but not the least, we will have a detailed step-by-step guide on how to sand drywall.

So, without any delay, let’s get started.

Why Sanding Is Required For Drywall?

Drywall is the most preferred type of wall for homeowners nowadays due to its ease of installation, cost efficiency, and many other benefits it offers.

However, using nails, screws, and bolts to join the wall leaves the surface rough and uneven. These uneven scratches, nails, and screw holes need to be patched up using a drywall joint compound.

During drywall installation, there are often slight imperfections, such as bumps, ridges, or seams, that can be visible when painted. Sanding helps to remove these imperfections and create a uniform surface.

So, if you want to have properly finished walls with a smooth coat of paint, sanding is an important step involved in achieving properly finishing drywall allowing the paint to adhere better and provide a more durable finish.

Types Of Drywall Sanding

There are usually two basic drywall sanding methods depending on the amount of dust produced while sanding.

1. Dry Sanding

Dry sanding is the most common method of finishing drywall. Professionals these days use power sanders to sand down the entire wall with less time.

However, if you want to sand down your wall yourself, you can use sanding blocks, sandpapers, and sanding sponges while applying even pressure and moving in circular motions across the wall.

Pole sanders are long-handled sanders often used for ceilings and high walls to sand large areas of drywall quickly and efficiently.

Dry sanding drywall is a very effective method that gives a great finish. However, it is very time-consuming and quite messy leaving behind a lot of dust.

The dust generated is so fine that it even becomes difficult to vacuum it. The dust can be a health hazard if inhaled and it is important to wear a mask or respirator to protect against dust.

2. Wet Sanding

Normally, drywall sanding is done when the drywall material has completely dried off. But this produces a lot of dust.

To avoid this, we came up with wet sanding where sanding is done when the drywall material has not dried completely.

Another way is to use a damp sanding sponge to wet the surface of the drywall and then gently sanding the surface in a circular motion.

The water or lubricant acts as a lubricant, reducing friction between the sandpaper and the drywall and preventing the sandpaper from clogging with dust while giving a smooth finish.

However, because drywall typically covers a large space, wet sanding drywall requires a much larger time commitment than dry sanding.

Tools And Materials Required For Drywall Sanding

Here are the different tools and other materials you will be needing when you plan to sand your drywall. To avoid any mess, make sure to have all these things in hand before you even start your project.

For your ease, I have added Amazon links where you can directly get these materials from.

How To Sand Drywall: 7 easy steps

Sanding drywall can be a slow and tedious process. It’s dusty, repetitive, and exhausting and the dust is so fine that it gets into everything and is difficult to remove, or even to vacuum.

To avoid all these complications you can go for an electric sander machine with an inbuilt vacuum. However, for the best results and perfect finish, most people prefer to do it using sanding blocks.

Step 1: Prepare Your Work Area

We have already known that sanding drywall produces a lot of dust and can make your whole home a mess if you do not prepare your work area.

Ensure to cover all your expensive belongings with heavy-duty plastic and keep it in place with painter’s tape all along the top so no dust can fall through.

Have your work area properly ventilated otherwise the dust can cause serious discomfort.

Step 2: Get The Right Tools

When it comes to sanding drywall, having the right tools is crucial to getting the job done effectively and efficiently.

Start by gathering a sanding block or a drywall sander, sandpaper with varying grits (such as 120, 150, and 220), a dust mask, and eye protection.

You will also need to have a joint compound, a putty knife, and wall primer so that you can fill up the holes and uneven surfaces for a perfect finish.

Step 3: Start With Sanding Blocks

Once your work area is prepared and you have all your tools and materials, start sanding your wall starting from one end using sanding blocks.

Always sand in small sections in straight lines until you are satisfied with the section. Move to the net section after completing one section.

Use fine-grit sandpaper to give a smooth finish. Make sure not to exert excessive pressure while sanding.

Keep your hands steady and maintain a comfortable speed setting to achieve a smooth finish without damaging the surface.

Step 4: Fill Holes And Uneven Surfaces

This step is crucial because it ensures a smooth and professional-looking finish. While fixing your drywall, there may be many holes, cracks, and uneven surfaces on the wall.

Using a working light will help you to easily identify the imperfections on the wall. To fill in all the holes and uneven surfaces, use wall primer as a filler material and fill it using putty knife.

After applying the filler, it needs to be sanded smoothly and leveled with the surrounding wall surface. This step may need to be repeated several times until the surface is completely even and the holes are filled.

Step 5: Use Angled Sanding Blocks For Corners

You cannot reach the corners using a normal sanding block and reaching the corners and joints can be a bit more challenging.

For this, you will be needing angled sanding blocks which will help you to easily reach the corners. Move the angled sanding block in a circular motion to make the task easier.

Continue sanding the corners until all the corners of your room blends well with all other walls to get the desired result.

Step 6: Use Pole Sander To Reach Up

Sometimes, it gets really tough to stand up on a step ladder and sand the ceiling with the help of sanding blocks.

Here, you can opt for a pole sander which is basically a hand sander attached to a pole with a mechanism.

This will help you to easily reach up easily. Move the sander over an area back and forth slowly scraping away materials until smooth.

Step 7: Prime The Wall

When the drywall is sanded, it can create small pores and imperfections on the surface. Priming the drywall helps to seal these imperfections and create a smooth surface for painting or wallpapering.

Drywall can be porous and can absorb the paint resulting in having to apply more coats of paint. Primer improves the finish of the wall allowing the paint to stick better and last longer.

Applying primer first can help you achieve the desired finish in fewer coats, saving you time and money.

How To Wet Sand Drywall Without Dust

Dust is a major problem to deal with when sanding drywall. Now, the question arises, how to minimize dust when sanding?

We have come up with a concept for wet sanding and that results in much less of a mess than dry sanding, as well as a smoother surface. 

However, wet sanding drywall is a much slower process than dry sanding. Here are the steps to wet sanding.

  • Fill A Bucket With Water: Take a bucket and fill it up to half with warm water. Warm water is preferred over cold water because it quickly dampens up the sponge.
  • Dip And Squeeze Your Drywall Sponge: Drywall sponges are different from normal sponges with one side rough and the other side smooth. Dip the sponge in hot water and drain the excess water.
  • Start Sanding: Start off by sanding the drywall using the rough side first clearing all burrs and imperfections while giving circular strokes. Once you are done, sand with the smooth side of the sponge for a good finish.
  • Redampen The Sponge When Required: Keep the water bucket near you and remoisten it when you feel too dry. Make sure not to wet it too much.
  • Allow For Drying: Before applying any primer, let the area dry off completely. Inspect the wall properly for any missed out imperfections.


Sanding drywall is an essential step in achieving a smooth and polished finish for your walls or ceilings.

It requires proper preparation, including dusting and cleaning the surface, selecting the appropriate sandpaper grit, and using the right technique to avoid damaging the drywall or creating excessive dust.

By following the steps outlined in this topic, you can achieve professional-looking results that will enhance the aesthetic appeal of your home or workspace.

Remember to take your time, work carefully, and wear protective gear to ensure your safety and the quality of the final outcome.

Related Post: How To Use A Stud Finder On Drywalls

FAQ: How To Sand Drywall

A lot of people want to build their drywalls all by themselves but they do not know how to sand drywall. That is why many questions arise in their minds. Here we have picked some related questions and answered them briefly in the FAQ section.

Q1. Is It Okay Not To Sand Drywall?

Ans: Sanding the drywall creates an even surface throughout. If we skip sanding, the wall will look rough and uneven and it will be difficult to apply paint or wallpaper evenly.

Q2. How Can I Avoid Too Much Dust While Sanding Drywall?

Ans: To avoid dust, a damp sanding sponge can be used along with a vacuum or dust collector. Also, finer grit sandpaper creates less dust than coarse grit sandpaper.

Q3. How Can I Tell Whether I Have Sanded The Drywall Enough?

Ans: It is simply a thing to visualize. Use work lights and check for any rough spots or bumps. If your wall shines and you don’t find any imperfections, the sanding is just perfect.

Q4. What Are The Safety Concerns When Sanding Drywall?

Ans: Dust is the only concern when sanding drywall which can be harmful when inhaled. Attach a vacuum or dust collector to your sander to suck up the dust as you sand while wearing a dust mask and eye protection.

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