Dust Free Drywall Sanding: A How-To Guide

Lead Image
  • 2-3 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 100-200
What You'll Need
Safety goggles
Dust mask
Plastic sheeting
Vacuum sander
Wet/dry vac

As anyone who’s ever hung drywall knows, drywall dust gets everywhere. That makes cleaning up difficult and lengthy, especially as it needs to be done thoroughly before going ahead and painting. Completely dust free drywall sanding is impossible, of course, but there are ways you can make sure that you eliminate most of the dust to make cleanup easier.

Step 1 - Sheeting

Before doing any type of drywall sanding, you should always put on a dust mask and safety goggles. The goggles are preferable to glasses as they form a seal that keeps dust away from your eyes. The mask will keep the dust away from your mouth and make breathing more comfortable.

Put up plastic sheeting by the area where you’re going to be sanding. It needs to be taped in place all along the ceiling, walls and floor, in order that no dust will seep out of the area. However, you still need to be able to get in and out of the area, and cutting a flap will let a little dust through. Similarly, dust will get through any holes in the plastic, or if your taped seals aren’t perfect. It will, however, keep most of the dust confined to a single area, so it does help cut down on the spread of drywall dust.

Step 2 - Wet Sanding

One way to eliminate drywall dust is to use the technique known as wet sanding. Technically, this isn’t sanding at all, and it’s not something that will work on an entire wall and definitely not on an entire room; instead, it’s much better on small areas.

Allow the drywall compound to harden and then wet a sponge and begin to rub away at the compound. As the compound is water soluble you will be able to remove much of it, although it will take plenty of effort, and there’s skill involved in not taking off so much that the joints and tape and revealed. With small areas it’s very feasible, especially where the compound is just covering nail or screw holes, for example.

Step 3 - Wet/Dry Vac

If you plan on using a drywall vacuum sander to keep away drywall dust, you’re going to need a good wet/dry vac. It’s important that you fit the machine with the correct filter. Rather than foam or paper, ensure you have a pleated filter in the vacuum. It will need to be cleaned regularly as you work, and the vacuum will need to be emptied, too. Clean the filter outside, putting it in a plastic bag and shaking it before tapping it against a hard surface, to remove much of the dust. To finish, keep the filter in the bag and gently use a broom to take the rest of the dust from the filter before replacing it in the vacuum.

Step 4 - Drywall Vacuum Sander

The drywall vacuum sander attaches to the wet/dry vac with a hose. It sands the drywall and feeds it down the tube into the vacuum cleaner, where the dust is trapped in water. Use it on the joint compound as you would any sanding block, feathering out to the sides. The only problem is that it’s harder to move than a regular sanding block, due to the suction. It eliminates most of the drywall dust.