When most people think about drywall, they usually picture huge sections of material being replaced. But this isn’t always the case. It’s important to know how to wet sand drywall, as this can cut down on dust and still provide the right surface for painting.
Sometimes a person may want to know how to sand drywall so they can fix a small imperfection in their wall. Areas can become worn down due to time, accidents, or questionable workmanship by the previous builder.
When it comes to sanding drywall, it is a process that is very technical, though not overly complicated. It requires attention to detail and takes time to do it correctly. However, it is one of the most popular do-it-yourself skills for homeowners, building contractors, and other individuals.
Sanding down drywall sections can lead to a smoother and more consistent look across surfaces.
Most places strive for this uniformity, especially if it means covering up imperfections and making it hard to tell that an accidental breakage ever occurred.
It can be a messy job and a long one, but this simple process is sometimes necessary for helping individuals ensure their home, business, or facility meets the aesthetic and structural standards they have for it.
How to Wet Sand Drywall: What is Wet Sanding?
It’s pretty easy to figure out what wet sanding drywall is, as the definition is right there in the name. It’s the process of sanding down drywall using water.
The method is fairly simple and far less messy than dry sanding. It only requires water and a drywall sponge.
Tips & Tricks for How to Wet Sand Drywall
As stated before, wet sanding drywall allows for less dust while still providing you the perfect, level surface for painting. Here are some tips to achieve flawless results from wet sanding drywall.
Don’t expect it to be perfect
When you wet sand drywall, it is likely to leave some small waves behind. This is due to the fact that the drywall sponge is very flexible. If you’re patching up a textured wall, this can actually be used to your advantage. You can match texture a lot easier with a damp sponge than with sandpaper.
Wet sanding takes up a lot of time, but it is absolutely crucial not to rush it. However, if you’re dry sanding, you’ll spend a lot of time cleaning up the mess from dust. Wet sanding takes away a lot of that mess, so the time spent for each one is about the same.
One of the most crucial steps in learning how to wet sand drywall, is to remember not to rub the sponge too hard. It can be a tedious process, but don’t try to speed it up by vigorously rubbing the sponge. This can create holes that you’ll end up having to fill. Doing this can also lift or tear the drywall joint tape that is underneath.
Use the right sponge
Any stiff sponge will do the trick, but you will achieve the best results with a sponge that is specifically made for wet sanding. These are thick and stiff, making it perfect for wet sanding. One side of the sponge is slightly abrasive, making it ideal for the first pass of sanding. The other side is more soft, for the second pass to smooth the surface.
So, how do you use it? Simply soak the sponge in water until it’s fully soaked, then squeeze the excess water out so that it’s damp but not dripping.
If you’re just wet sanding a small patch, one sponge will be enough. If you’re sanding a larger area, have two or three sponges handy, just in case.
Use enough water
Per the name “wet sanding,” you need to make sure you have plenty of water to get the job done. The best idea is to fill a five-gallon bucket about three-quarters of the way full with warm water. This will help to soften the drywall mud. This helps to not have to constantly get up and fill the bucket with water while you’re getting the job done.
Focus on the roughest areas
When you’re starting out, it’s important to gently cover the entire surface. After that, you can focus specifically on the uneven areas that have bumps.
Use circular motions on these areas to smooth them out. Again, make sure you’re staying gentle — let the sponge do the work, not you. Do your best to not create any holes.
Change the water when needed
You may not need to change the water, especially if you filled the bucket and are just wet sanding a small area, but you may need to if you’re covering a larger area.
Once you rinse the sponge several times, you’ll notice the water getting thick and milky. Once this happens, dump it out and refill the bucket with fresh water.
This will make it easier to clean your sponge.
Rinse and re-wet
Your sponge is going to collect mud and drywall as you sand, so it’s important to constantly rinse it off. When it’s caked with drywall, it makes it harder to smooth out the surface.
Make no more than two passes
Your first pass will get rid of the worst bumps and ridges, when you use the rough side of the sponge. With the second pass, you will focus on smoothing out the edges and getting the most smooth surface that you can.
If you feel as though two passes weren’t enough, wait for the drywall to dry. Use the sandpaper to finish the job. If you continue wet sanding, you risk soaking the drywall too much.
Advantages to Wet Sanding
- No mess of drywall dust
- No loud sanders
- Gives a smooth, clean finish
- No need to mud and sand over and over again
- No need to clean the wall in preparation for sanding
Preparing for the Job: Get Tools and Get Coverage for Dry Sanding
After reading about how to wet sand drywall, you’re realizing that it’s not the right method for you. So, we’re going to provide you with some information on how to properly dry sand your drywall.
The first step to sanding drywall is to get prepared for the job. In addition to a sanding sponge or utensil, some people also use simple metal utensils to chip away at areas near the edges of where they’re trying to smooth down.
It is worth noting that the types of sanders and sandpaper out there can vary greatly.
A person should examine a sandpaper grit chart and use it as a guide to determine what type of utensil they’ll need to get the job done. Whether it’s an electric pole sander or a simple sponge that will be used for the job, making sure it has the right grit ensures the smoothest result.
The next step is to make sure the area has plenty of coverage, as the job will result in a very dusty and dirty environment before the task is completed. It’s essential to make sure the area around the workspace is covered. Tarp and cloths work well, but newspapers or magazines can suffice if that’s all that is around at the time.
Vacuum attachments are also available for many sanders, making it easy to collect the dust before it has a chance to fly around the room or get ground into the floor.
The person performing the job should also take precautions, wearing a dust mask complete with goggles and preferably a respirator if necessary. Some masks are designed so they can be changed, and this may also be necessary if the job is long.
Using Proper Technique While Dry Sanding
After mapping out the area that is to be sanded down, it is crucial to use the right technique to ensure an even and consistent result.
The key is to apply even pressure throughout, ensuring that the sander is used in the same motion repeatedly.
Use a regular sander or sanding sponge on areas that are easy to reach, and only break out the pole sander for those high-up spots that need smoothing out. Areas with a lot of problems can be smoothed out using a push-pull or circular motion with only gentle pressure applied.
A light touch is essential, as it will help a person avoid scuffing or gouging the area and thus requiring more work to be done.
The final step is to finesse areas around corners, outlets, or other openings. This requires small components and a very minimal amount of pressure.
Once all areas have been taken care of, the next step is painting.
Additional Tips for Sanding Drywall
Drywall is much easier to sand down if it has been applied properly.
Expert building companies and online tutorials alike can provide guidance on how to wet sand drywall, tips for wet sanding drywall projects, and much more. This makes it easier to get to the actual standing stage with a good setup in place.
Drywall projects are also known to be somewhat tedious. Doing the same thing over and over for such a long time can become cumbersome and tiring. It is usually recommended to put on some music while working, as this can help a person stay focused and engaged.
Cleaning up any remaining mess afterward may require the help of a vacuum or some wet towels for any scraps along walls or counters. It is also easy to track drywall dust around on clothes and shoes, meaning a person may have to clean the area and themselves multiple times after the project has concluded.
A drywall fix is one of the most common DIY projects out there. With the right tools and planning, anyone can get good, smooth results in this type of situation.