Using an Orbital Sander to Sand Drywall: A Complete Guide

Sanding drywall is one of the most crucial tasks in DIY projects or home improvements. Gypsum board sometimes referred to as plasterboard or drywall, is a common building material that needs to be sanded for a smooth finish. Sanding drywall, however, can be a difficult task, particularly if you are a newbie. The task might be made simpler, quicker, and more effective by using an orbital sander. In this post, we’ll go through how to sand drywall with an orbital sander step-by-step and offer advice on how to get a perfect finish.

How Does an Orbital Sander for Drywall Work and What Is It?

An orbital sander is a power tool used to sand surfaces to make them smoother. A circularly moving sanding disc that also vibrates in tiny elliptical circles is part of the sander’s setup. As a result of this motion, swirl marks on the surface being sanded are less likely to appear.

Benefits of Sanding Drywall using an Orbital Sander

For drywall sanding, an orbital sander has a number of benefits over hand sanding. Some of the primary advantages are as follows:

  • Faster Sanding – Sanding is completed significantly more quickly using an orbital sander since it can cover a bigger surface area than sanding by hand.
  • Consistent Outcomes – The orbital sander’s random sanding pattern guarantees uniform results on the whole area being sanded.
  • Energy Savings – Sanding by hand might be exhausting, but an orbital sander uses less energy to smooth out the surface.
  • Smoother Finish – By removing lumps and defects from the surface, an orbital sander can contribute to a smoother finish.

Several Orbital Sanders for Sanding Drywall

Electric and air-powered orbital sanders are the two types most frequently used for drywall sanding.

Electric Orbital Sanders

The most popular kind of orbital sander for drywall sanding, electric orbital sanders are driven by electricity. These sanders are perfect for sanding drywall in confined locations since they are lightweight, simple to operate, and available in a variety of sizes and forms.

Air-Powered Orbital Sanders

Pneumatic orbital sanders also referred to as air-powered orbital sanders, are propelled by compressed air. Mechanical sanders are perfect for heavy-duty sanding operations because they are often more powerful than electric sanders. However because they need an air compressor to work, some users may find them less convenient.

The Value of an Orbital Sander

Sanding by hand is far less effective and time-saving than using an orbital sander. Power tools called orbital sanders use circular motions to evenly sand surfaces. They are also user-friendly and suitable for beginners.

The Best Orbital Sander for Your Project: How to Select

Given the variety of options available, selecting the ideal orbital sander for your project might be a little overwhelming. Yet, the following are some things to take into account while choosing an orbital sander:

  • Power Source – Depending on the demands of your project, decide between an electric and an air-powered sander.
  • Size of Sanding Disc – Based on the scope of your project, select the appropriate sanding disc size. While a larger sanding disc will cover more ground, it could be trickier to move in small spots.
  • Speed Control –  Some sanders feature variable speed controls that let you change the speed to suit the type of sanding you’re doing.
  • Dust collection – To reduce the amount of dust produced while sanding, look for sanders that can be linked to a vacuum or have built-in dust collection devices.

The Process of Drywall Sanding: An Overview

Sanding drywall is an essential step in building or remodeling a home. To create a smooth surface, any flaws, lumps, or ridges must be eliminated. Sanding aids in surface preparation for painting or wallpaper application. Sandpaper is used during the procedure to remove any extra joint compound or plaster.

It’s essential to prepare the surface and gather the required tools and materials before you start sanding. This is how:

Safety Measures to Take Before Sanding

Sanding drywall can produce a lot of dust, which is dangerous to breathe in. To protect yourself from dust and debris, you must put on a dust mask and safety glasses.

Obtaining the Proper Equipment and Materials

The equipment and supplies you’ll need to use an orbital sander to sand drywall are listed below:

  1. Rotary sander
  2. Abrasive discs (80-120 grit
  3. Dust mask Eye protection
  4. Plastic sheeting or drop cloths
  5. Plaster tape
  6. Joint substance (if needed).

Sanding Making the Surface Sandable

  • Clean the Area – To preserve furniture, decorations, and other items from dust, clear the area before you start sanding.
  • Cover Furniture and Flooring – Use drop cloths or plastic sheeting to cover the furniture and floors, then tape them down with painter’s tape. In the same way, cover any furniture that you are unable to remove from the space.
  • Examine the Surface – Examine the drywall surface and check for any obvious flaws such as lumps, cracks, or holes. Before sanding, fill in any gaps or cracks with the joint compound and let it cure.
  • Surface Cleaning: Wipe down the surface and clear it of any dust or dirt using a moist cloth or sponge.

Selecting the Correct Sandpaper Type

To have a smooth surface, the correct kind of sandpaper must be used. The surface’s smoothness or roughness depends on the sandpaper’s grit. It is advised to sand drywall using 120-grit sandpaper for the first sanding and 220-grit sandpaper for the finishing touches.

Making the Surface Sandable

Make sure the surface is free of any dust and debris before beginning to sand the drywall. Clear the surface of any loose debris with a dry cloth or a vacuum. To shield it from dust, cover any nearby furniture or flooring with a drop cloth or plastic sheeting.

Putting the orbital sander together

Connect the orbital sander to the sandpaper. Make sure the sandpaper and sanding pad is correctly positioned. Depending on the surface being sanded, adjust the sander’s speed. It is advised to use the medium-speed setting for drywall.

Using an Orbital Sander to Begin Sanding Drywall

Starting from top to bottom, begin sanding the drywall surface in a circular motion. Applying too much pressure runs the risk of damaging the surface. Sand the surface evenly, taking care not to over sand any one spot.

It’s time to start sanding now that you’ve cleaned up the surface and gathered all of the required equipment and supplies. the following steps:

Step 1: Attach the Sanding Disc – Depending on the size and grit that you require, choose the proper sanding disc. To the orbital sander, fasten it.

Step 2: Turn on the Sander – Sand the surface using circular or back-and-forth motions after turning on the sander. Sanding should be done with even pressure; excessive pressure might harm the drywall.

Step 3: Sand in Sections – Sand the wall one section at a time, circling or back and forth with the sander as you go. When you have completed each piece, move on to the next one, slightly overlapping to make sure you have covered the entire surface.

Step 4: Swap Out the Sanding Disc – Swap out a fresh sanding disc when the old one gets blocked with dust. By doing this, you can be confident that the sander will work effectively and that you’ll get the required outcomes.

Step 5: Sanding Corners and Edges – To sand corners and edges that the larger sander can’t reach, use a smaller orbital sander or sanding block.
Step 6: Clean the Surface – After you’ve completed sanding, clean the surface by using a vacuum or a moist cloth to remove any dust or other debris.

Sanding edges and corners

Sanding edges and corners can be difficult. To sand, the corners and edges, use a sanding sponge or a piece of sandpaper. To prevent scratching the surface, use a delicate touch and be careful.

Verifying for errors

Check the surface for any flaws, such as ridges, bumps, or scratches, after sanding. Re-sand the affected area with 220-grit sandpaper if any flaws are discovered.

How to Manage Dust

drywall sanding generates a lot of dust. Use a respirator or dust mask to prevent dust from entering your lungs. To remove the dust from the surface, a shop vac or vacuum with a dust collection bag is also suggested. As an alternative, you can remove the dust by wiping it with a damp cloth or sponge.

Sanding again and touch-ups

Use 220-grit sandpaper to repaint any areas that need it after inspecting for flaws and clearing away any dust. In order to avoid introducing new flaws, make sure you sand the surface evenly. Use a moist cloth to remove any dust left over after sanding.

Surface Preparation

Before using any primer or paint, the surface must be completely cleaned after sanding. To clean the surface of any dust or dirt, use a dry cloth or a vacuum. To clean the surface, you can also use a tack cloth.

Placing a Primer on

It’s crucial to prime the surface with a primer before painting. The surface is sealed with the primer, which also provides a smooth foundation for the paint. While applying the primer evenly, use a roller or brush. Before sanding, let the primer dry completely.

priming with sanding

Use 220-grit sandpaper to softly sand the surface after the primer has dry. Sanding too much runs the risk of damaging the primer. Use a moist cloth or tack cloth to remove any dust.

Putting on the Last Coat

The final coat of paint should be applied after the primer has been sanded. To uniformly apply the paint, use a roller or brush. Before sanding, let the paint entirely dry. Put on a second coat of paint if required.

5 Advice for Effective Drywall Using an Orbital Sander to Sand

  1. Employ the Correct Grit – To get a smooth finish, start with a lower grit of sandpaper and work your way up to a higher grit. Start with 80 grit and work your way up to 120 grit, for instance.
  2. Employ a Gentle Hand: Using the sander too forcefully can harm the drywall. Allow the sander to do its work while using a light touch.
  3. Sand in Many Directions: Sanding in a number of directions can aid in obtaining a uniform, smooth surface.
  4. Use Dust Collection: Employ a vacuum or dust collecting system to help keep the amount of dust down and lower the risk of respiratory issues.
  5. Take Breaks: Sanding can be exhausting and cause hand fatigue, so take breaks when necessary. Take breaks as necessary to prevent injuries.


It can be difficult to sand drywall using an orbital sander, but with the correct equipment and methods, it can be done quickly and successfully. To prevent breathing in dust particles, remember to choose a suitable type of sandpaper, prepare the surface properly, and use protective clothing. Always check the surface for flaws and re-sand as necessary. Before applying primer and paint, thoroughly clean the surface.