What Grit Sandpaper for Drywall Mud?

The best way to use sandpaper to finish drywall and sand joint compound is to begin with a semi-coarse sandpaper of 100 or 120 grit. Then, move to a finer grit sandpaper, such as 150 or 180. If a fine finish is desired, perform a third pass with 220 grit sandpaper. Remember, with sandpaper the lower the number, the more coarse it is. You should never use sandpaper more coarse than 100 grit on drywall mud. Coarse sandpapers, such as 80 grit, can damage your drywall and gouge your joint compound.

What grit sandpaper for drywall mud

How to Choose the Best Sandpaper for Drywall

Is your drywall taping and floating job slightly lumpy, ridged, or rough at the edges? No problem. Start smoothing out those rough patches with 100 grit sandpaper. If your joint compound is fairly smooth before sanding, then opt for 120 grit sandpaper. 100 grit is good for taking off rough buildup but can leave scratches in smooth joint compound.

  • Use 100 grit sandpaper on rough, ridged, or lumpy drywall joints.
  • Begin with 120 grit sandpaper if the drywall mud is fairly smooth before sanding.
  • After smoothing with 100 or 120 grit, use 150 grit or 180 grit to continue smoothing out the drywall mud.
  • Finish with 220 grit sandpaper for a seamless drywall surface.

Once you’ve smoothed the initial rough portions of your drywall joints, move to a finer sandpaper, such as 150 grit or 180 grit. Then, perform the final smoothing with 220 grit. When sanding, always move from coarse sandpaper to a finer one. This will allow you to gradually smooth out your work. Returning to coarse sandpaper will undo your finer finish work.

What are the Best Tools for Sanding Drywall?

A new Diablo sanding block in factory packaging beside a new 3M sanding sponge in factory packaging
Sanding blocks and sponges are the best hand tools for sanding drywall.

For small jobs, sanding blocks and sanding sponges made for drywall are the best choice. They are very versatile and resist clogging with drywall dust. For sanding ceilings and high walls, a pole sander extends your reach and makes work a lot easier.

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Sanding screens are ideal for finishing drywall. These sandpaper alternatives resemble window screens, but they are designed to sand drywall while allowing dust to sift through. This is a great alternative to sandpaper, which sometimes becomes clogged with drywall and joint compound dust quickly, making it useless.

Drywall Sand Screen | 10 Pack
$8.25 ($0.82 / Count)
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03/04/2024 11:30 pm GMT

Can You Use an Electric Sander on Drywall?

DeWalt orbital sander on top of drywall.
My electric orbital sander is my favorite tool for sanding drywall.

You can save yourself a lot of hard work by using an electric sander on drywall. I recommend using an orbital sander. I’ve used mine to precision sand drywall joints fast on many jobs. Using an electric sander makes the work quicker, easier, and usually results in a higher quality result.

It’s important to pay close attention when using an electric sander to smooth drywall mud. Electric tools work faster than hand-sanding. Check often to make sure the sander isn’t removing too much material.

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Is Sanding Drywall Dangerous?

Sanding drywall is not a dangerous job. However, long-term exposure to drywall dust is not good for your lungs. To remain safe, wear gloves, eye protection, and a dust mask to protect yourself when sanding drywall.

  • Avoid breathing in drywall dust.
  • Wear gloves, safety goggles, and this dust-filtering mask when sanding drywall.
  • Work carefully when sanding on ladders or other high places.

If you are sanding high ceilings or walls where the use of a ladder or pole sander is required, make certain to follow proper ladder usage and safety tips. You’re better off climbing down and moving the ladder than you are leaning to sand a hard-to-reach spot.

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Do You Sand Drywall Mud Between Coats?

Man using a sanding block to sand a taped and floated drywall joint.
Sand drywall mud with 100 or 120 grit sandpaper after each coat.

Always sand your drywall compound in between coats. A little bit of work with 100 or 120 grit sandpaper in between applications of mud will smooth trouble spots. This leads to a smoother follow-up coat and prevents more mud from building up in problem areas. A quick sanding between coats can save a lot of work in the long run, and contribute to a much better-finished product.

How Long Should You Wait to Sand Drywall Mud?

Wait at least 24 hours after applying drywall mud before sanding. Sanding too soon will often reveal partially dried mud beneath the surface. Moist drywall mud is easily damaged, even from light sanding. Attempting to sand drywall mud before it’s been allowed to dry for 24 hours can often undo your work and create the need for you to apply more mud.

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Can You Sand Drywall Too Much?

Only sand drywall enough to make a seamless, smooth finish between sheets of drywall. If you sand drywall too much, you can damage a piece of drywall. Some signs that you have sanded too much are:

  • Edges of drywall tape visible through joint compound.
  • White drywall paper has been scraped away, revealing brown paper or gypsum board beneath.
  • Cracking joint compound where it is extremely thin.

To avoid overworking your drywall, go slowly at first. Take breaks to wipe the drywall dust away with a cloth and observe your progress. Remember, it’s easier to sand carefully than it is to fix drywall that has been oversanded.

What Sandpaper Do You Use to Sand Drywall?

When sanding drywall joints, begin with 100 or 120 grit sandpaper. Use this coarse sandpaper to smooth out any rough edges, bumps, or ridges left by your putty knife. Then, use 150 grit sandpaper to smooth the drywall compound and blend it with the drywall on either side. Finally, go over the joints with 220 grit sandpaper or sanding sponges. By following this process you will produce pristine drywall joints that are almost impossible to find once the surface has been painted.

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