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Drywall Sanding Tips for Finishing & Repair - Wet & Dry

There are ways to sand drywall that offer cleanliness, efficiency, and the chance at a higher grade finish or match, based on what you are seeking. Sanding must be combined with the ins and outs of finishing tips to reach greater results.

  • Before sanding, always wear a dust mask, even when vacuum sanding. The gypsum particles will find their way everywhere, including inside your body.


  • While you are sanding, intermittently feel the contour with your hand for areas to concentrate on. Another way is to aim a stark light like a halogen across the surface.


  • Plan on cleanup as part of the job. If there are inhabitants notify them before mudding, that dust is always to be expected and only minimized. For smaller patches, vacuum as you proceed with the nozzle nearby and plastic sheeting below. Replace the plastic as static charge on the plastic attracts the dusty particles. Plan on cleaning the filter for the vacuum or keep spares for replacing. Always there is a final cleanup for dust let to settle, pilings and even nearby rooms.


  • Put up a plastic curtain for increased dust containmant.


  • Take precautionary measures to keep the fine airborne dust from entering sensitive equipment like electronics and pc's.


  • Dry Sanding Applications
    Screens versus Paper Sheets
    Sanding paper comes in brown garnet paper, black silicon carbide paper, which outperforms the former, and screens of black siliocon that are precut and packaged to fit onto hand and pole sanders. The papers do clog with the gypsum powder quicker than the screens, which are designed to shed the gypsum. The screens do hold up to greater movement with less wear.

    The prepackaged sheets sometimes have to be trimmed at the sides to prevent inadvertant, line-scratching the dried compound on the wall due to the corner folds of the paper.

    Grit/Abrasion
    If using anything less than 120 fine grit do not press overly hard or the surface will scratch. The 100 grit should be able to abrade the compound, and some sanders will go to medium 80 grit. But the point is, the coarser the grit, the more obvious trackings become.

    Hand Tools
    For breaks, angles and tight areas, the beveled sanding sponge is ideal. Greater motion is preferred over increased pressure. This will distribute the reduction of surface area.

    For small to large patch areas the hand sander does nicely. The wood and metal designs are less likely to flex under pressure than the plastic models.

    Pole sanders take somewhat more vigorous activity and these are designed to carry the leveling over broader areas. Careful with the rectangular heads - these easily flip with a change in direction and this can scar the wall and stop progress. Newer versions of the sanding pole have round, larger padded heads with smartly replaceable sheets. They are better for curving walls and allow quick sheet change out.

    Vacuum Sanding
    Often hailed as 'dustless sanding' the vacuum rigs do bring in the particles. They operate on round head surfaces. Therefore angles will need to be hand sanded. Typical prices are a couple hundred to $1200 to $1500.


    Wet Sanding Techniques
    Methods include a damp or soaked sponge or rag. Wet sanding is fundamental to truely dustless sanding or to match contours or textures. Wrap a wet or damp rag around a taping knife to make it level.

  • Tapered sponges give good results in corners.


  • Have a rinse container handy for discharging the buildup of compound in your rag or sponge.


  • Do not over-dampen either the dried compound, or the paper membrane on the drywall. Wetting the tape might cause lifting.




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