Best Steps for Effective Drywall Sanding

After you’ve installed and taped your drywall, follow these steps to make the surface perfectly smooth. We’ll show you the techniques professionals use to do the job quickly and achieve excellent results.

Tools and Materials Required For Drywall Sanding


  • Drywall sander
  • Dust mask
  • Mud pan
  • Sanding pole
  • Shop vacuum
  • Stepladder
  • Taping knife


  • Drywall sandpaper
  • Drop cloths
  • Hat
  • Sanding sponges
  • Window box fan

Get ready for a lot of dust!

Sanding drywall is one of the toughest tasks in construction. Not only messy and tiring but also stressful because you need to fix any earlier mistakes. Great sanding results come from excellent taping.

The final sanding step gives you one last chance to get the job right. When you paint, you can tell if you did well by looking at the smoothness and neatness of the finish. If there are mistakes, you’ll need to fix them. No surprising that many homeowners prefer to hire professionals like ROA Drywall Contractors for drywall work.

Sawdust is not only a risk to health, but it can also lead to fires and slips. Using the right tools for dust collection can keep your work area safe and clean.

Don’t worry. If you’re patient and pay attention to details, you can handle this task! We’ll guide you through the sanding process and share the finishing techniques used by professionals to achieve great results quickly.

Top Tips for Dust-Free Drywall Sanding:

The dust from drywall sanding is as fine as flour and can easily disperse to other areas of your house. To prepare and reduce dust, follow these steps:

  1. Utilize plastic sheets and masking tape to block cold air return vents and entrances.
  2. Install box fans within window sills (expelling the air) to facilitate ventilation in the room.
  3. Take off screens from doors and windows before working to avoid dust from drywall. This will save time and effort cleaning later.

Safety Equipment:

  1. Wear the right safety gear when working. This includes a two-strap dust hood or a respirator.
  2. Change the dust hood every 30 minutes in poorly ventilated areas. Wear glasses, a hat, and comfortable clothing. Goggles may fog up, so be aware of that.

9 Effective Drywall Sanding Tips for a Dust-Free Experience

Step 1 – Capture Dust at the Source

Dust can be captured right where it’s created. If you’ve sanded drywall before, you know how messy it can get. To solve this, use a power sander with a vacuum attachment. Both the Mirka sander kit and Dewalt sander offer this feature, effectively reducing dust.

Step 2 – Preparation Before Sanding

Before you start sanding,

  • Make sure to round the edges with a large taping knife and a pencil.
  • Avoid using felt-tip pens as they can bleed through the paint.
  • Mapping every wide seam on the ceilings and walls is important to determine how much sanding each seam requires.
  • Place a backlight on the other side of the ceiling or wall. Position your taping blade at the edge of the seam and slide it down, covering about four feet each time. Label the areas as “high,” “fill,” or “even.”
  • In “elevated” regions, smooth out any protruding parts in the middle of the seam by sanding them down. Be careful not to over-sand the joint compound as it could expose and harm the drywall tape beneath.

To fix this, smooth the joint with a wide tape knife and more mud. Start from the top and work towards both edges. Let the mud dry, trace the seam, and sand it again.

For areas labeled “fill,” if the light appears only at the center edge of the blade, then the seam requires additional mud. Apply another layer of mud to the seam and let it dry prior to sanding.

Utilize a “quick-dry” joint compound available at hardware shops and home improvement stores. Apply the mud, allow it to dry, and then even out the seam. This process can typically be completed by the following day.Smooth the area evenly if the light is blocked along the seam and it is labeled “even.”

Step 3 – Choosing the Right Grit and Sander

You will mainly use hand sanders on the lower walls and an electric sander for the upper walls and ceilings. You can use both tools with disposable sanding discs or sandpaper sheets available in various grades. Use these tools to easily sand down raised areas or uneven spots on surfaces, such as corners and strips.

Position your work lights in a way that they illuminate the seams, emphasizing any imperfections in the taping. Take the time to master your sanding technique to achieve the best results once you start painting.

Using Open Mesh Sanding Screens

Professionals sometimes use open mesh sanding screens for sanding. DIYers should avoid using mesh screens for sanding. Mesh screens allow dust to pass through, which can cause marks on the surface. Additionally, using mesh screens can wear them out faster than sandpaper.

Use 150-Grit Drywall Sandpaper For Best Results

The majority of workers achieve optimal outcomes by utilizing 150-grit drywall sandpaper. Drywall dust can clog pores when used. However, it also acts as an abrasive that smooths the surface. This can help extend the life of the paper.

You should change your grit sheets often so that it’s easier and faster to sand. For example, sanding an average-sized bedroom might require three to four sheets.

Step 4 – Apply Even Pressure

When sanding drywall with a hand sander, use a steady back-and-forth motion. Focus on flat seams and narrow nail/screw lines on the vertical edges. Smooth out seams and strips by gently pushing and pulling. You can also use a circular buffing motion to blend the edges. This will create a seamless transition between seams and the wall.

To get rid of small scratches on a seam or nail/screw pattern, use a hand sander. Press down on the sander and move it in an arcing motion.

Note: We used water-resistant drywall for its green color that makes it easy to see the wall, seams, and fasteners. Avoid using water-resistant drywall for ceilings, since it tends to sag. Additionally, get advice from a building inspector, as its use on exterior walls is prohibited in some areas.

Step 5 – Using a Pole Sander

Use a push-pull stroke when using a pole sander. While your arms might feel tired, using a pole sander is quicker and more efficient than using a hand sander on an elevated ladder.

Use of Pole Sander

Pole sanders might be harder to handle. In this case, you can either push and pull or move from side to side. To change the sanding head’s ball joint, turn the handle. This will change the movement of the head and allow the sander to rotate around the inside corners where seams meet.

You can change the pole sander’s face to make it wider for working along seams or smaller for working along fastener strips. Be careful when working close to corners to avoid hitting adjacent walls and damaging the surface.

Do not scratch the wall

Because the pole sander has a ball joint inside its head, it is easy for it to flip over or hurt someone. To keep the paper surface of the drywall from getting scratched, make sure the edges of the taped lines or strips are smooth. Avoid scuffing the surface, as these flaws will be noticeable once you paint. The edges of seams and fastener strips should appear smooth and soft after sanding.

Step 6 – Three Common Problems with Sanding

Be aware of these three common issues while sanding drywall.

Before applying two coats of easy-sand mud, make sure to position the fastener below the drywall surface.

Second, use a small tapering blade to cut off a ridge of dried joint cement from one edge. Then, use a small amount of easy-sand mud to smooth it out. 

Third, when sanding near the edge of drywall, avoid heavy pressure to prevent scratching the adjacent drywall surface. Instead, use a six-inch blade to feather the easy-sand compound into the corner where the two seams intersect.

Step 7 – Sanding with a Soft Touch

After sanding most of the surface, switch to a different tool for the more delicate areas. These areas include light fixtures, electrical outlets, and corners. A hand sander can be used, but handheld sandpaper works best around outlets.

Control the sandpaper with smooth strokes to avoid scratching or damaging the surface. If sanding scratches the joint tape and shows it, add more mud, wait for it to dry, and then keep sanding.

Step 8 – Using a Sponge to Sand

Hand sanders can be used to smooth inside corners. Be careful not to over-sand one side, as this can create a channel that will require extra mud to fix. Instead, use a fine-grit, angled wet or dry sanding sponge to smooth each side of the inside corners.

To make an edge that is straight, hold the polishing sponge, press down on it steadily, and move it up and down the corners. Then, move the sponge in a circular motion to smooth the transition edge of the finished corner seam.

Step 9 – Getting Ready to Paint

In the past, after sanding, I would clean or vacuum the drywall to remove all dust before painting. However, experts suggest minimal cleaning of the ceiling and walls.

Get rid of the dust that has built up in the corners and on wide taped seams or fastener strips. Otherwise, make sure to evenly cover the drywall with dust, especially at the edges where seams and fastener strips meet. The paint and dust will stick together, and the dust will fill in holes, scratches, and rough spots on the paper.

The dust from drywall work may seem like a problem initially, but it actually improves the paint finish. This ultimately leads to better results.

By following these steps, you can achieve a smooth, professional finish on your drywall, ready for painting. With patience and attention to detail, you can handle this task confidently and achieve excellent results.