Sanding for beginners

If you have never sanded drywall before and just have a small project to complete, this story is for you.

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Sanding drywall

Sanding drywall can be tedious, dusty work. But if you do it right, you’ll be rewarded with a great-looking paint job that will make all the effort worthwhile. In this story, we’ll show you how to avoid a few common sanding mistakes and several tips for getting the best results from your drywall sanding job.

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Use a special sanding tool

As with most remodeling tasks, having the right tools is the key to a top-notch job. For drywall sanding, you’ll need a hand sander, a package of 150-grit drywall sanding paper that’s precut to fit your sander, and a sanding sponge for corners and detail sanding.You’ll also need a double-strap dust mask rated for nuisance dust and goggles to keep the dust out of your eyes. A hat or scarf to keep the dust out of your hair is a good idea too.

Do you need a pole sander?

Pole sanders are good for large sanding jobs. We didn’t show a pole sander ($15) because it’s tricky to learn. But if you’ve got more than one room to sand, it may be worth the effort. The trouble with a pole sander is that if you’re not careful, the sander can flip over and gouge the surface, causing extra repair work. One tip is to keep the sanding head angled slightly and never let it get at a right angle to the pole. A pole sander works great for sanding the primer coat before painting, a step that requires minimal control and pressure.

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Choose fine sandpaper for the best results

It’s tempting to buy 80-grit paper to speed up the sanding job. But because modern lightweight joint compound is so soft, you don’t need heavy-grit paper to sand it. Coarse-grit paper or sanding screens will leave undesirable sanding marks. We recommend 120-grit or 150-grit paper for the best results. Buy precut sheets made to fit your hand sander. It also fits half sheets of standard size paper.

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Fill gouges- don't sand them

Don’t try to sand out gouges and big ridges. It’s much easier just to trowel on another coat of joint compound. This is especially important at the edge of joints, where too much sanding will damage the paper face on the drywall. It’s quick and easy to trowel a thin coat over the edge of the seam to fill a depression.You don’t have to cover the entire joint again. (It may take a few coats to fill deep grooves.)

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Spot problem areas with a handheld light

There are going to be flaws and imperfections in a wall of drywall no matter how good the drywall installers are. First do a once-over with your hand sander, making sure to hit every surface with joint compound on it. Keep a pencil handy to mark problem areas that need filling or detail sanding. Next get a handheld lamp and go back over the job while shining the light parallel to the wall surface. Use your hand sander and sponge sander to touch up trouble spots. Mark depressions and other spots that need filling. Finish the job by filling the marked areas with joint compound and finally sanding these spots when they dry.

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Use a sanding sponge for corners

Sanding inside corners with a hand sander is asking for trouble. In the first place, it’s difficult to get a crisp corner. But even more troublesome is the tendency to scuff or gouge the opposite side of the corner with the edge of the sander. It’s OK to sand within a few inches of the corner with your hand sander. Then go back and touch up with a sanding sponge or folded piece of drywall sanding.

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Sand with a light touch

Even though using a hand sander is straightforward, the drywall pro we talked to offered these helpful tips. Use moderate to light pressure and avoid sanding over the same spot in a straight line. This can leave a groove or depression that will show up when you paint. Instead, move the sander around on the joint as you sand. Don’t sand over electrical boxes or other openings. The edges of the box can rip your sandpaper, or a piece of the paper facing on the drywall can roll up under the sander and tear off. Keep a few inches away from electrical box openings and touch up around them later with a sanding sponge.

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Drywall sanding tip

Keep the sander angled slightly. Press lightly and avoid scrubbing back and forth in one spot.

Next, learn more about what kind of drywall you should choose.