Can You Drywall Without Sanding?

There are a few more steps to take after taping and applying joint compound to your drywall seams to finish the job.

Once the joint compound has dried, the seams need to be smoothed out to prepare your drywall for primer and paint.

Typically, drywall seams are sanded for a smooth, even surface ready for painting.

The main drawback of sanding drywall is the large amount of dust it creates.

These tiny particles float into the air and require you to wear a dust mask and ensure the area is well-ventilated.

The dust also means you will have to do some significant cleanup when you are done.

So, is there a way to give drywall a smooth finish without sanding?

It is possible to finish your drywall without sanding by using a rubber float or a knife to smooth the joint compound. This method is an excellent alternative to sanding because it produces similar results without all of the dust.

Drywall consists of ingredients like silica, calcite, and gypsum, which are known irritants to the eyes, nose, respiratory tract, and throat.

Breathing in drywall dust particles for extended periods may cause a persistent cough, shortness of breath, and an increased risk of lung cancer.

Finishing drywall without sanding eliminates the risk of being exposed to a potential health hazard.

Keep reading to learn more about making your wall smooth without sanding.

can you drywall without sanding

How To Finish Drywall Without Sanding

Finishing drywall without sanding will take some time to ensure the job is done correctly.

There are several stages of drywall work, and each one serves to make the entire drywall surface smooth.

However, the extra time spent smoothing the seams without sanding is worth it when you do not have a huge mess to clean up afterward.

When done correctly, making your walls smooth with a rubber float or palette knife will produce the same finished surface results as sanding.

You only need a few simple tools to get started, and the steps to follow are easy.

Gather the Tools You Will Need

The first step in finishing drywall is to gather all of the tools you will need to complete the job from start to finish.

This step is important because having your tools together will make the work go faster.

You do not want to be in the middle of smoothing your drywall only to stop and waste time looking for the right tool.

To finish your drywall without sanding, you will need the following tools:

  • Warm water
  • Five-gallon bucket
  • Drywall sponge
  • Drywall tape
  • Drywall knife
  • Rubber float
  • 10″-inch knife

Rubber floats have different textures, so it is essential to use the right one to smooth your drywall.

Coarse floats are typically used on concrete, creating a more textured surface.

For a smooth drywall finish, choose a rubber float with a fine texture, such as this one.

As an alternative to a rubber float, you may also use a 10″-inch knife like this one to smooth your drywall.

Both tools will give your walls a smooth finish, but you may find one is easier to use than the other.

If you are unsure about what tool to use, experiment with them to see which one is more comfortable for you.

Cover Drywall Seams with Tape

The next step is to prepare your drywall by taping the seams.

Start at the top and gently press the tape onto the drywall seam until you get to the bottom.

It is crucial to ensure no air bubbles are trapped under the drywall tape.

Careful taping at this step makes it easier to achieve a smooth surface finish and prevents any drywall woes later.

Mesh drywall tape is typically easier for beginners because it does not create air bubbles, but it may be more challenging to apply in corners.

You may reduce the chance of air bubbles when using paper drywall tape by dipping the tape in water and running your fingers down its length to remove excess moisture.

Mesh and paper drywall tape are both suitable, and once again, it comes down to your personal preference.

Mix a Batch of Joint Compound

If you are not using a pre-mixed joint compound, you will need to mix up a batch by following the instructions on the container.

Once your joint compound has been mixed, you will need to work quickly to apply it to your seams.

After 20 to 30 minutes, the drywall mud may begin to harden, and adding more water to the mixture weakens it, and it will not stick to the wall.

Only purchase or mix up as much joint compound as you need for the job.

It is very difficult to store drywall mud without mold or mildew developing for long periods.

Never use a joint compound with mold because you will spread the mold spores all over your drywall, leading to potential problems later.

Further reading: Why does drywall mud mold? Can you stop it or use it?

Apply the Joint Compound to the Drywall

Using a drywall knife, spread a thin layer of joint compound over the taped drywall seams to fill in any cracks and screw or nail holes.

As a general rule, the joint compound should cover the drywall tape and extend at least 2″ inches past each side of the tape.

Apply multiple thin coats of drywall mud until the seams are completely covered.

A thick coat of mud will cover the seams and nail gouges, but it will take longer to dry and be more difficult to smooth down later.

Take care to feather the edges after each coat to make smoothing the wall easier after the drywall compound dries.

Apply the joint compound and smooth it with a corner knife to get more even coverage for tight corners.

Allow the Joint Compound to Dry

At this point, you have to wait for the joint compound to harden on the seams.

It will take anywhere from 8 to 24 hours for the joint compound to harden, depending on the humidity in the air and how thickly each coat of mud was applied.

Applying drywall mud during a week of rainy weather will cause the joint compound to dry much more slowly.

You will need to prevent humidity from becoming an issue by closing the doors and windows in the room and using fans or dehumidifiers, if necessary.

Add Water to the Drywall

Although it may sound counterintuitive, you will apply water to the newly-dried joint compound to make it smooth.

Place some warm water in a bucket and soak the drywall sponge.

Gently press the damp sponge onto the joint compound to add moisture.

The warm water helps soften the drywall mud, making it easier to smooth down.

Work in small areas to prevent the joint compound from drying out before you are able to smooth the drywall surface.

Move your bucket of water along with you as you work.

Glide the Wall

Wet a rubber float or 10″-inch knife and glide the tool’s edge over the top of the joint compound.

Be sure to hold the rubber float or knife at a 90-degree angle to the wall.

The entire bottom of the rubber float should never touch the joint compound.

Using a 10″-inch knife, only the blade’s trailing edge will touch the joint compound.

Use light pressure on the knife or rubber float to pull it down the wall in one continuous stroke.

Applying excessive pressure with the edge of the rubber float or 10″-inch knife may cause gouges in your drywall.

You only need to apply a bit of pressure to gently smooth the wet joint compound.

Repeat for each area of the joint compound, using steady pressure and continuous strokes in an up or down motion until the wall is completely smooth.

Once again, keep your bucket of water handy to re-wet your tools as necessary.