Sanding Drywall

How to Sand Drywall Mud to Achieve a Perfect Wall Finish

By Mark J. Donovan

Sanding drywall is messy and dusty business. Make sure to always wear a dust mask and eye protection when planning to sand drywall mud and have a filtered shopvac nearby. One of the best secrets to sanding drywall is to tape and mud the walls and ceilings so that limited sanding is required. If you ever watch the drywall pros you will observe that the amount of drywall sanding they do is quite limited. In many cases they limit drywall sanding to after the final skim coat of mud has been applied.

If your drywall sanding plans are limited in scope, such as a small drywall tape repair project, I highly recommend moving furniture and neighboring wall decorations out of the room to avoid having them coated in dust.

Also, put drop clothes down directly underneath where you plan to sand drywall mud. I also find it best in these cases to have someone running a shopvac just below your hand that is sanding the drywall mud. Much of the dust is collected in this way.

For best results when sanding drywall use a pole sander and/or a hand sander. In addition use an abrasive drywall screen and a 6 inch drywall taping knife. A grout or sanding sponge can also come in handy.

Unlike sandpaper, drywall screen won’t easily clog up or rip. In the event a clog does form on the drywall screen, with just a few flicks of the wrists you can remove any clogs that do form on the drywall screen. Normally if the joint compound (mud) is fully dry the drywall screen won’t clog up.

Stage 1 of Drywall Sanding

After hanging the drywall and bedding the drywall tape into joint compound you can often skip having to sand the drywall at this stage. Instead, once the first coat of mud has dried, simply run your 6 inch taping knife over the seams and filled in nail spots to remove any high ridges.

If your taping knife did not sufficiently remove all the high spots, then lightly run your pole sander or hand sander, with attached drywall screen, over the mudded areas, paying most attention to the edges.

Stage 2 of Drywall Sanding

After the second coat of mud has been applied and is fully dry, again go back and lightly sand over the seams and covered nail spots. Focus your sanding energy near the edges of the mudded areas so that you blend them into the surrounding drywall area, however start the sanding process at the center of the seams and work your way outwards towards the edges.

When sanding the seams be sure to only lightly sand directly over the taped area of the seams so that you do not sand down to the drywall tape. Likewise go lightly when sanding directly over the nail holes.

Final Stage of Drywall Sanding

After the third and final skim coat layer of mud has fully dried, repeat the drywall sanding process of focusing on the edges of the seams and nail spots. However with this final skim coat of mud it is important to just very lightly sand the drywall seams.

As an alternative to sanding the final skim coat of mud, use a damp sponge instead. After dampening a small section of a mudded drywall seam with the sponge, lightly work the sponge over the dampened seam from the center outwards.

How to Repair a Large Drywall Hole EBook

Work in small sections at a time when using the sponge. Use the same process over the nail or screw hole areas.

For information on repairing a large drywall hole, see the “How to Repair a Large Drywall Hole” Ebook from  The “How to Repair a Large Drywall Hole” Ebook provides step-by-step instructions on how to repair your damaged wall so that it looks as good as new.

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