What Kind Of Power Sander Can You Use For Drywall

Sanding and finishing drywall is a grueling task. Sure, you can always wet sand or manually dry sand your drywall with pole sanders, but for ease and speed, which is the best power sand to use for drywall? There are many kinds of sanding power tools, some more suited to drywall than others. You don’t want to pick the wrong tool and fuzz up your drywall and create a ton more work when you’re mudding, taping, and cleaning up.

Ideally, the best kind of sander to use for drywall is a drywall-specific dustless drywall sander like the Porter-Cable dustless drywall sander. This is one of the best drywall standards on the market that’s priced low enough for a DIY-er. It’s specially made to sand drywall and delivers professional-level results.

These drywall sanders are made to quickly and easily smooth down the joint compound, and the dustless systems collect drywall dust as you’re working, cutting down on eventual cleanup and creating a safer work environment. 

These are dedicated tools, and they aren’t cheap. If you already have a power sander or are looking for a more affordable alternative that gets the job done, here are some other good options on the market and some tips for using them all effectively.

Power Sanders In This Review

What Makes a Good Power Sander?

When you’re looking for a power sander, it’s easy to think that any power sanding tool is good enough, but that is not true. You have to consider how long you’ll be holding the sander, how much drywall you have to sand, and any other applications you need the sander for.

How powerful is the sander?

Variable speed sanders are nice because you can take them to other applications. Generally, the more power, the faster you can sand your room, to a point. 

How heavy is the sander?

You’re going to have to sand ceilings and high on walls. Drywall Sanding with a heavy handheld tool will get difficult very quickly. Dustless drywall sanders with extension poles are a little heavier, but the balance and reach make getting high-up places much easier.

Can the sander handle all the drywall dust?

A big problem with some handheld sanders is they are not designed to handle so much fine drywall dust. There are some workarounds, like using a hose attachment for a shop vacuum or buying a model with a dust collection feature. This makes your convenient handheld sander less easy to use. Keep that in mind when choosing the right sander.

The Best Reviewed Sanders for Drywall

Here are the best-reviewed sanders in a variety of categories. Keep in mind; there are tons of great options for each style on the market. Get an idea of what the pros and cons of each type of sander are and choose accordingly.

PORTER-CABLE 7800 4.7 Amp Drywall Sander

PORTER-CABLE 7800 4.7 Amp Drywall Sander with 13-Foot Hose
  • Lightweight drywall sander with variable speeds ranging from 1400 to 2000 RPM
  • 13-foot vacuum hose that dissipates static
  • Lightweight, 8.5-pound body for easy handling

The gold standard in drywall sanders is the Porter-Cable dustless drywall sander. There are cheaper versions of the dustless drywall sander, some as low as $100. The Porter-Cable is terrific for sanding drywall because that is what it’s meant for.

The vacuum attachment hooks up to a standard Shop-Vac and sucks up about 95% of dust thrown when sanding. It’s going to be relatively easy to reach along walls and hit ceilings with this model. Unlike a small handheld sander, you can do everything standing on the ground.

Sanding discs can be purchase at your local hardware store or online. Drywall Sanders use screens instead of regular sandpapers to allow the joining dust to escape from between the wall and the head of the sander.

Related: Best sandpaper for drywall.

The big downside to this power sander is the price and its lack of versatility. You can use it on floors and to sand popcorn ceilings but not much else. It’s fairly large, and though it breaks down, this electric drywall sander will take up a fair amount of room. 

Get this sander if you’re serious about drywall, and you’ll be doing plenty of drywall projects in the future. No other product will get you the same results and sand your drywall with ease. 

Features:

  • 8.5 pounds
  • Articulating sanding head
  • Variable speed 1400 to 2000 RPM
  • 13-foot vacuum hose 
  • Hook-and-loop straps 
  • Pole mounted
  • One year limited warranty

BLACK+DECKER Random Orbit Sander,

BLACK+DECKER Orbital Sander, 5 Inch, 2.0 Amp, 12000 OPM, Corded, 1 Sandpaper Sheet and Dust Bag...
  • HIGH PERFORMANCE ORBIT SANDER - 2.0 Amp corded electric random orbit sander for a swirl-free finish
  • HIGH EFFICIENCY - Delivers 12000 OPM (orbits per minute) to quickly sand material
  • LIGHTWEIGHT & COMPACT - Fits in tight spaces for more versatile sanding

The big difference between an orbital sander and a random orbit sander is the motion for the sanding head. An orbital sander tends to leave a swirl pattern, while the random orbit sander leaves a smoother finish. This is a very inexpensive sander that does a great job on a variety of surfaces. The benefit of the square sanding head is you can get closer to the edges of drywall and corners. 

Related: Why does drywall have a tapered edge?

A great thing about this Black and Decker model is that it’s a sander with a vacuum and dust collection system. It is corded, but it’s a very easy-to-use power tool at just over three pounds.

Get this sander if you are concerned about easy cleanup and want a sander that will last you many years and many projects. 

Features:

  • 3.15 pounds
  • Ergonomic handle
  • Built-in dust collection bag
  • Corded
  • 2.0 Amp motor

DEWALT 20V MAX Orbital Sander

Sale
DEWALT 20V MAX Orbital Sander, Tool Only (DCW210B)
  • Orbital sander with brushless motor provides runtime and efficiency to get the job done
  • Variable-speed control of the hand sander from 8,000 to 12,000 OPM to match the speed to the application.
  • Low-profile height of the power sander allows user to get close to work surface for precise sanding.

An orbital sander can be an excellent drywall sander. They’re versatile and easy to use. This Dewalt model is lightweight at less than three pounds, is cordless for easy use, and has convenient hook-and-loop sanding pads. You’ll be able to find generic circular sandpaper replacement pads at your local hardware store or online. 

The biggest drawback to using an orbital sander like the Dewalt for drywall is that it’s easy to get carried away and damage your drywall. Even though it’s cordless and fairly light, your arms will get tired when it comes to high places. 

Buy an orbital sander if you have plenty of other uses for a sander – taking off plaster walls and putting a nice even finish on wood, metal, or plastic.  

Features:

  • 2.55 pounds
  • Hook-and-loop sanding pad
  • Variable-speed control
  • 8,000 to 12,000 OPM
  • Brushless motor
  • Cordless

BLACK+DECKER Belt Sander with Dust Bag

BLACK+DECKER Belt Sander with Dust Bag, 7-Amp, 3-Inch by 21-Inch (DS321)
  • 7.0 AMP MOTOR – Delivers maximum power for maximum performance.
  • ANGLED BELT – 3 in. x 21 in. sanding belt sands 3x closer to the edge of adjoining surfaces.
  • 3-POSITION HANDLE – Adjustable handle keeps you comfortable in different orientations and helps reduce muscle fatigue.

A belt sander like this black and decker does the best sanding over a straight line or freehand shaping. Luckily, drywall seams should be very straight. Belt Sanders are very powerful and usually heavier than other power drywall sanders, and this one is no exception. 

The weight is the biggest issue when using a belt sander to sand drywall. You will struggle with walls and ceilings. 

Get this sander if you’ve been eyeing a belt sander and need one more project to make it worth your while. 

Features:

  • 6.5 pounds
  • Dust collector
  • Includes Medium grit sanding belt, (1) Dustbag
  • 7-Amp motor
  • Two-year warranty

DEWALT Palm Sander

Sale
DEWALT Palm Sander, 1/4 Sheet (DWE6411K), Yellow
  • 2.3 AMP motor of the electric sander sands at 14,000 OPM
  • Rubber overmold texture will provide a smooth and comfortable control while sanding
  • Improved paper clamp of the 1/4 sheet sander features for better paper retention

A palm sander or sheet sander like this Dewalt is a great little tool for light sanding projects. It isn’t as powerful as the other power sanders in this article, but it is usable for getting a smooth finish on your drywall. You’re less likely to get carried away and scuff your bare drywall and get too deep into your joint compound with this sander.

The big downside is that a small sander like this will take you longer to sand your drywall. It’s still quicker than manually sanding and easier to hold than the other heavier sanders. 

Get this sander if you have a small project that you want to get done quickly with smooth, great-looking results. 

Features:

  • 2.3 Amp
  • 2.8 pounds
  • Locking dust-port system
  • 14,000 OPM
  • Three year limited warranty

Solving Your Problems

If you’re going to buy an electric sander for only drywall, the choice is clear. But maybe you’ve had your eye on an orbital sander, or you know you could use a palm sander for some upcoming projects. What should you consider when you’re about to commit to another power tool?

How big is your drywall project? How many drywall projects will you be doing? Needless to say, if you’re an all-day, every-day drywaller, a dedicated dustless drywall sander is the way to go. Many models have their dust collection bags attached, which makes cleanup a breeze. You won’t have to climb up and down off ladders for high on walls and the ceiling, and you can always use your sander for popcorn ceilings and finishing floors. 

Do you already have an electric sander? This is pretty easy. If you already have an orbital use and a day with one will be well worth your investment. 

How strong are you? If you’re not up to holding a big piece of equipment aloft, steer clear of the handheld drywall sander models. The extension poles on drywall sanders might make the whole tool heavier, but the weight distribution and reach make up for it. You’ll find trying to do ceilings, and high on walls with an orbital drywall sander or belt sander becomes extremely difficult very quickly.

What other sanding projects do you have? A variable speed drywall sander is nice because you can take it to other applications. Slow it down to finish floors and speed it up to take down popcorn ceilings quickly and easily. Fixed speed sanders can save you money, but know they are much less versatile. 

Related: What type of drywall is used for ceilings?

FAQ

What Kind of Sandpaper Should I Use?

For an electric sander, start with 150-grit sandpaper or sanding screen. Sanding screens should be used on dustless electric drywall sanders, otherwise use open-faced sandpaper for orbital sanders, random orbit sanders, palm sanders, and belt sanders. 

You might want to go lower, something like 100 or 80 grit, to get your sanding done quicker, but anything courser will easily scuff your walls. Start slow for the best results. 

What Else Can I Use a Dustless Drywall Sander For?

Electric sanders, even dedicated drywall sanders, can be used to finish floors, take off paint and plaster and remove popcorn ceilings. Unfortunately, the power tools that do the best at smoothing out joint compounds tend to be the least versatile. A variable speed sander will always be more versatile than a fixed speed. 

Do I Need a Power Sander for Drywall?

No. Small projects and minor repairs, pole sanders, sanding blocks, and sponges (for wet sanding) work perfectly well. They are more suited to a beginner, with less risk for tearing the drywall paper. The biggest downside to manually sanding is that it’s much slower, and it will kick up a lot of dust. 

Will a Power Sander Damage My Walls?

Any sander can damage your walls if you’re not careful. Though dedication drywall sanders are made for drywall, aggressive sanding can still scuff your paper. You will have more trouble controlling a high-powered orbital or belt sander, and extra caution should be taken when sanding with these. 

Should I Buy A Portable Cable Sander?

Portable Cable Sanders are powerful heavy-duty industrial drywall sanders. They are a huge piece of equipment and a big investment. There are none listed here because they’re contractor-level tools and generally out of your average DIY-er price range. They also have a fairly steep learning curve, making them a little useless until you because fluent with them. Sure, you could rent a portable cable sander, but it’s not much more useful than any of these other options when you’re not an expert on it.