Can You Use Electric Sanders for Drywall Compounds?

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Drywall compound, or joint compound, is the semi-liquid mud that drywall contractors use to fill the joints between wallboard panels. Although they use wide trowels to smooth the compound flush with the surface of the wall, rough patches and ridges remain. You can smooth the dried compound with a manual drywall sander, or you can speed the process, and reduce labor, with certain types of power drywall sanders.

Power Sanding Process

  • If you take your shop sander, turn it on and start sanding drywall compound, you'll fill the room with enough billowy dust to blind you to anything farther than a foot in front of your face. When the dust clears, you may find that you sanded away part of the wall and clogged the motor on your shop sander. Regular power sanders are not suitable for sanding drywall compound.

Electric Drywall Sander

  • Designed especially for sanding powdery drywall compound, an electric drywall sander spins or vibrates rapidly to smooth away rough spots, but it's less aggressive than a shop sander. Instead of sandpaper pads and disks, an electric drywall sander features replaceable sanding screens that do not clog and will not scratch the wall surface.

Dust Collection

  • Manual drywall sanding creates dust, and power sanding multiplies the dust effect. To counter the clouds, electric drywall sanders come fitted with vacuum hoses that run to a dust collection tank on the floor. Suction in the sanding head pulls much of the drywall dust into the hose, and then into the vacuum canister.

    Sometimes advertised as "dustless," these electric sanders do reduce dust, but they don't eliminate all of it. You'll still benefit from wearing a respirator mask and protective eyewear.

Considerations

  • Electrical drywall sanders are great for reducing time and labor on flat walls, but you'll still have to sand inside corners and tight spots by hand. Because inside wall corners contain a large amount of dry compound on both sides, if the sander touches the adjacent wall, it can leave a visible gouge.

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