How to Sand Drywall with Electric Sander

Sanding drywall is an essential step in the process of finishing and painting walls. It smooths out the surface and removes any imperfections or rough spots. While sanding can be done manually, it is often time-consuming and tiring. This is where an electric sander comes in handy.

With the right technique and equipment, sanding drywall with an electric sander can save time and effort while achieving a smoother and more consistent finish. In this blog post, we will provide an overview of the steps of how to sand drywall with electric sander, including tips and tricks for achieving the best results.

Definition on Drywall

Drywall, also known as gypsum board, plasterboard, or wallboard, is a building material used for creating interior walls and ceilings. It is made of gypsum plaster, which is sandwiched between two thick sheets of paper. Drywall is a popular construction material because it is lightweight, easy to install, and relatively inexpensive.

It can be cut and shaped to fit any space, and it provides a smooth surface for painting or wallpapering. Drywall is commonly used in residential and commercial buildings as a substitute for traditional plaster and lath construction.

Types of Drywall Sander

Sander for drywall you choose will depend on the size of your project, your budget, and your personal preference. There are different types of electric sanders available for sanding drywall, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Here are the most common types:

Palm Sander

A palm sander is a small, handheld sander that is ideal for sanding small or tight spaces. It has a square or rectangular base that vibrates to create a smooth finish. This type of sander is not recommended for large projects or for sanding large areas of drywall.

Random Orbital Sander

A random orbital sander is a versatile sander that can be used for a variety of tasks, including sanding drywall. It has a circular base that spins and vibrates in random patterns, which helps to prevent swirls and marks on the surface. This type of sander is ideal for sanding large areas of drywall.

Belt Sander

A belt sander is a powerful sander that uses a continuous loop of sandpaper to sand large areas quickly. It is not recommended for beginners or for delicate projects, as it can easily damage the surface if not used correctly.

Vacuum Sander

A vacuum sander is a type of drywall sander that comes with a built-in vacuum to collect dust and debris. It is a convenient option for those who want to minimize dust and mess while sanding, but it can be heavier and more expensive than other types of sanders.

How to Sand Drywall: Step by Step Guide

How to Sand Drywall

It’s important to properly sand drywall before painting or finishing to achieve a smooth and even surface. While sanding can be a time-consuming and tiring task, using an electric sander can make the process quicker and more efficient. Here are step-by-step approach on how to sand drywall with an electric sander, this guide will help you achieve a professional-looking finish on your drywall.

Things You Will Need

To achieve a smooth finish on your drywall, you’ll need a few essential tools and materials. These include:

  • Electric sander
  • Sandpaper (Various Grits)
  • Dust mask or Respirator
  • Eye Protection
  • Work gloves
  • Drop cloth or plastic sheeting
  • Drywall sanding sponge
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Clean cloth or rag
  • Sanding screen

Step 1: Preparing the Room

Before you start sanding, it’s crucial to prepare the room. Start by removing any furniture or decorations from the room. Cover the floor with a drop cloth to protect it from dust and debris. If you have air conditioning or heating vents, cover them with plastic sheeting to prevent the dust from spreading throughout the house.

Step 2: Choosing the Right Sandpaper

Selecting the right sandpaper for your electric sander is important for achieving the desired results. For drywall sanding, it is recommended to use sandpaper with a fine grit, such as 120 or 150 grit. Coarser sandpaper will remove too much of the drywall, leaving behind an uneven surface.

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When purchasing sandpaper, make sure it is compatible with your electric sander. Sandpaper comes in different shapes and sizes, so it’s essential to choose the one that fits your sander’s sanding pad.

Step 3: Using the Electric Sander

Before you start sanding, put on safety goggles and a dust mask to protect yourself from dust and debris. Also, make sure the electric sander is plugged in and turned on.

Start sanding at one corner of the room and work your way around the room in a circular motion, applying even pressure. Make sure to keep the sander flat against the drywall to avoid creating uneven patches. If you’re using a random orbital sander, it will automatically move in a circular motion, reducing the chance of leaving swirl marks.

It’s important to avoid applying too much pressure or sanding in one spot for too long, as this can cause the drywall to become too thin, creating an uneven surface.

As you sand, periodically stop and inspect the surface to ensure that you’re removing enough material while still maintaining an even surface. You may need to switch to a finer grit sandpaper to achieve a smoother surface.

Step 4: Cleaning up the Dust

Sanding drywall can create a lot of dust and debris. It’s important to clean up the dust as you go to prevent it from spreading throughout the house. Use a vacuum cleaner with a hose attachment to remove the dust from the sander and the surrounding area.

ALSO READ: What Is a Sanding Block and What Is It Used For?

You can also use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe down the walls and remove any remaining dust. Be sure to let the walls dry completely before proceeding with any further steps.

Step 5: Final Touches

Once the dust is cleaned up, you can do some final touches to ensure a smooth and even surface. Use a sanding sponge or sandpaper to smooth out any areas that may have been missed during the initial sanding process.

If there are any holes or dents in the drywall, fill them in with spackling compound and let it dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Once the spackling has dried, sand it down to create a smooth and even surface.

FAQ About Sanding Drywall

Is hand sanding better than power sanding drywall?

Hand sanding can be more precise and controlled, but power sanding can be faster and more efficient for larger areas. Both methods can be effective, but it ultimately depends on the project size, personal preference, and skill level.

What are the biggest sanding mistakes to avoid with a sanding machine?

One of the biggest sanding mistakes to avoid with a sanding machine is sanding too fast or too slowly. Sanding too fast can result in uneven sanding or missing areas entirely, while sanding too slowly can lead to over-sanding or cut-through in some areas. It’s important to find the right speed for the task at hand and maintain a consistent pace to achieve the best results.

What grit sandpaper is best for drywall?

The best grit sandpaper for drywall is typically in the range of 120 to 150. This grit size is coarse enough to remove any bumps or imperfections in the drywall, but fine enough to create a smooth finish without damaging the surface. It’s recommended to use a finer grit sandpaper for the final sanding pass to achieve a polished finish.


Sanding drywall can be a time-consuming and tedious task, but using an electric sander can make the job much easier and efficient. By following the steps outlined above, you can achieve a smooth and even surface for painting or wallpapering. Remember to take the necessary safety precautions, choose the right sandpaper, and clean up the dust as you go. With a little patience and attention to detail, you can achieve a professional-looking finish for your drywall.

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