What sanders can you use on drywall

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In this article, we will be looking at different types of sanders and whether they can be used on drywall. This will include sanders you should avoid, and the best sanders for this particular job.

Drywall is a popular alternative to skimmed plaster. This is because it’s easier to do as a DIY project. Skimming wet plaster is highly skilled. Therefore, it can be expensive if you hire a professional.

On the other hand, drywall is much simpler, you just need to fill the joints and screw holes, as opposed to skimming the entire surface. Also, the finish is achieved by sanding, rather than floating the plaster.

sanders on drywall

Whilst it is arguable that plaster produces a better finish, drywall can still do a really good job. If the drywall is filled and sanded properly, it can come pretty close to the same level of quality.

The key to achieving a good finish, is that you fill the tapered edge joints correctly, and that you sand the filler to a smooth flat surface. Following this, it can be painted to achieve a seamless and aesthetically pleasing finish.

A large part of success, comes down to the sanding process and choosing the right type of sander.

Below we discuss several different types of sander and whether they would be suitable for the job.

Can you use an orbital sander on drywall

An orbital sander is a good choice for sanding drywall. This is a relatively large tool, that allows you to sand larger areas much faster than sanding manually.

In order to achieve a good finish, you should sand lightly and move the sander in a circular motion. This will allow you to sand the surface evenly. It will also avoid sanding too deep, which could damage the plasterboard paper, below the drywall filler.

One thing to consider with any sander, is the dust and debris that is created. You should use a face mask and protective eyewear, in order to protect yourself whilst sanding. Also, open a window to allow dust to escape the area.

To see an example of a good orbital sander for drywall click here

Can you use a palm sander or a detail sander on drywall

Palm sanders and detail sanders are smaller types of orbital sander. As the name suggests, a palm sander fits in the palm of your hand, and this makes it very useful for small sanding jobs. Similarly, a detail sander is also smaller. This tool generally has a triangular or pointed pad, which helps it fit into corners and perform more detailed sanding.

Whilst both of these could be used for sanding drywall, they are not ideal. Their small size will result in much more work when sanding a large area of drywall

Can you use a belt sander on drywall

Unlike orbital, detail, and palm sanders, a belt sander does not have a sanding pad. Instead, it has a belt which loops around an electric motor. This creates a fast-moving sheet of sandpaper.

The motor causes the belt to move at high speed. This type of sander is often used for heavy duty tasks, in order to remove large amounts of material quickly.

As a result, it is not suitable for sanding drywall. The belt is far too aggressive and the risk of damaging your drywall and creating an uneven surface is very likely.

Sanding drywall manually

Sanding drywall can be done manually. However, this will take much more time and effort. Although it will often result in a good quality finish.

One way to speed up the process of manual sanding, is with a pole sander. This is a sanding pad attached to a long pole, which allows you to sand high walls and ceilings without the need for a ladder.

Best sander to use on drywall

Finally, if you want the best type of sander for sanding drywall, you can purchase a drywall sander.

This type of sander is specifically designed for the exact job. They are usually powered by electric or battery and just like a manual pole sander they have a long handle, enabling you to sand hard-to-reach areas.

Similar to an orbital sander, a drywall sander uses a sanding pad. This pad rotates in a circular motion, making it highly effective at evenly sanding drywall.

The tool combines the best parts of a manual pole sander and an orbital sander, to create a tool that is perfectly designed for this job.

This type of sander is a little more expensive. However, if you have a lot of sanding to do, the extra cost, could be well worth the time it saves you.

To see a good drywall sander and read customer reviews click here


As you can see, there are a variety of ways you can sand drywall. This ranges from manual sanding to power tools.

In general, most power sanders will sand drywall pretty well. However, some will be much better than others, and there are tools like the belt sander that should be avoided.

Ideally, you should use either an orbital sander or a specially designed drywall sander. The latter will be more expensive, so if you’re on a budget stick with the orbital, you will just need a ladder for harder to reach areas.

Finally, always remember to wear the appropriate PPE. Sanding creates a lot of dust and debris. Therefore, a dust mask and goggles are essential. Also, where possible use a bag, or some form of extraction attached to your sander.

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