This guide covers TOP-5 best drywall sanders, the main types of these devices as well as their most important features. You will learn where you should better use manual sanders and where the power ones are recommended. Find out what benefits these devices deliver and what product properties need to be considered by a customer. The guide will tell you why variable speeds and telescopic pole heads are that important. A chart featuring the most popular products will allow you to compare the most important indicators.
Drywall sanders make smoothing patches and drywall joints easier. They are preferred to hand sanding due to their ease of use, overall performance, and productivity. They are practical tools regardless if you are a DIY’er or contractor professional. Drywall sanders may be simple handheld manual models or electric-powered. They may include telescopic pole extensions, built-in vacuums, vac hoses or other attachments and features that make the work easier and more professional-looking with less clean up.
Drywall sanding dust cannot be avoided even when dustless drywall sanders are used. Using the appropriate type of sander helps minimize the escape of the fine drywall dust that coats everything in the area as well as creates possible inhalation issues. It is important to purchase the type (manual or electric), power and speed, and features that best-suit your anticipated DIY or professional need(s).
What You Will Learn From This Guide:
- How do drywall sanders work?
- What are the types?
- What to look for when buying?
- TOP-5 best drywall sanders
How Do Drywall Sanders Work?
To gain a smooth surface, drywall sanding should only be done on the dry top layer of applied mud. Regardless if you use a lower-powered or dustless sander, there will be floating dust that must be contained as much as possible. Small areas and corners can be sanded using a wet sponge to alleviate dust cleanup. Vacuuming dust as you sand the larger areas also helps reduce the amount of dust that settles into cracks and crevices.
Fill ridges or dents with joint compound before sanding. Fine-grit sandpapers do not speed up the smoothing process. On the other hand, coarse grit sandpaper may leave marks or gouge the surface. Depending on the type of sander you use (manual or electric), 120- to 300-grit sandpapers are recommended for achieving the best results.
Hold a bright light parallel to the wall to check for depressions, marks, or uneven areas after sanding. Circle deficiencies and smooth sand them using a manual sander. Missed pits and deeper dings should be touched-up with joint compound before re-sanding. Before you prime or paint the walls or ceiling, wipe them to remove residual sanding dust.
The obvious advantage of using a drywall sander is the smooth result you can achieve faster and with less effort than hand sanding. For contractors and professionals, more powerful, high-speed electric drywall sanders with features and attachments allow even sanding in large and small areas, which increases production and profitability.
Many models are “dustless” and have built-in dust vacuums or some means of connecting to a shop vac to suck the dust from the operation before it is released into the air.
Variable speeds allow greater control. Pivoting and telescopic pole heads enable better access to remote and harder to reach areas. Technologies are aiding the ability of drywall sanders to collect dust generated by and during the sanding process. Wet/dry and HEPA wet/dry vacuum technology operate using integrated air-powered orbital sanding turbines that suck dust inside the sanding unit.
What Are The Types of Drywall Sanders?
A simple, manually-operated drywall sander is a good, all-purpose complementary tool to a power drywall sander. They are good for making small repairs and small area finishing. They are not recommended for large areas or big jobs because they require more time and effort to attain a smooth surface. The task can quickly become tedious when used to sand large areas. Smoothing seams or patches before painting or doing a single, one-time drywall project may warrant purchasing a less expensive manual sander.
Pole attachments make reaching ceilings and high areas easier. Sanding sponges are also available for sanding corners. A “dustless sander” (a manual sander that connects to a shop vac) is a good choice to minimize drywall dust that readily coats everything within range of your sanding project.
Power drywall sanders are handheld sanders with large, round, rotating sanding discs. The sanding disc may turn at speeds from 350 rpm to 3000 rpm or more. Overall, they are faster, easier to use, and more efficient, particularly for larger jobs. Dustless models have built-in/integrated vacuums or hoses that suck up most of the excessive dust generated during sanding.
Power drywall sanders with pole-mounted options allow a greater reach. This is particularly beneficial when sanding ceilings or high walls. Pole extensions allow a safe distance between you and the actual sanding operation, which reduces the amount of drywall dust you might potentially inhale. The downside of using the pole attachment is the extra weight it adds and the increased strength required to effectively control and operate it overhead.
What To Look For When Buying A Product?
Certain criteria determine if a manual or electric sander would be your best choice. Will you need specific attachments to make your sanding easier and more efficient?
Before buying a drywall sander:
- determine the overall size of your project,
- if you are buying it for home or professional use,
- if you will be using it for one project or multiple times, and
- if you will be sanding high walls or ceilings.
Manual, handheld drywall sanders are lightweight and easily operable. Electric-powered models are heavier due to their motor and attachments that may be designed for professional operations. Power sanders can weigh from 9 to 20 lbs. Aluminum sanders are lighter weight.
The heavier the device is, the more control it requires to achieve the best results. The drywall sander’s weight also impacts how long you can comfortably use it. Although heavy sanders more readily glide over the surface, they require more endurance to effectively operate them overhead for high walls or ceilings and/or for long periods of time.
Pole sanders are lighter but require much more physical pressure against the drywall surface in order to sand the joint compound. Stilts or drywall lifts may be the solution when heavier professional drywall sanders are needed to finish massive ceilings, vaulted ceilings/walls, etc.
The greater the RPMs, the faster you should be able to complete your work. However, the mechanism that makes the disc spin faster also tends to increase the sander’s weight. As a result, more control is required to achieve a consistent smoothness. A DIY homeowner that has a single room or wall to sand may do just fine with a lower RPM drywall sander. A contractor, on the other hand, may want a higher RPM sander that is faster and improves overall productivity.
Sanding discs come in a variety of grits and sizes. They typically attach to the sanding machine with Velcro. Disc sizes are not standard among drywall sander brands and models. Most drywall sanders include a few sanding discs with purchase, but ensure replacement discs are easily and locally available before you purchase your sander.
TOP-5 Best Drywall Sanders
Below, you will find TOP-5 best products within the price range from $100 to $300. The models differ in power and speed range some of them includes hoses or other attachments. Since convenience matters as well, take a look at the items that have comfortable extendable handles and are not heavy. Some can fold so that you can easily transport or store them. There are models that can be used both with or without vacuum cleaner attachments.
Variable-Speed Drywall Sander with Telescopic Handle | ALEKO 690E
The durable ALEKO 690E electric drywall sander is an affordable, industrial-grade sander that adapts to an extreme wall, ceiling, and floor sanding, polishing, and cleaning. It is a 110V, 60Hz, 600-watt input sanding unit. It is ETL vacuum-approved and can be used with or without a (separately-sold) vacuum cleaner attachment. This durable electric sander weighs a hefty 10.5 lbs. It has a short 43-in handle that fully extends to a telescopic 65 inches. It features 1000-2000 rpm variable speeds that are easily adjusted.
The ALEKO 690E is considered the best performing power drywall sander for the money. It is durable, comfortable, easy to learn and use, and recommended for DIYers. It may not be desirable for daily professional ceiling/overhead use due to its weight. The ALEKO 690E comes with a vacuum hose, telescopic handle, six 9-inch variable-grit sanding discs, and a 1-yr. warranty.
ALEKO 690E: Check the current price
Drywall Sander with 15-Inch Hose | WEN 6369
The versatile WEN 6369 electric drywall sander is an affordable sander designed for the DIYer. It conveniently folds for easy transportation and/or storage. Maximum torque is provided by a 5 amp head motor. It is ETL-listed and offers an automatic dust removal system and 15-foot flexible rubber dust hose that minimizes cleanup. This reliable electric sander is a lightweight 9 lbs. The adjustable handle also fully extends to a telescopic 60 inches for easy ceiling access.
The WEN 6369 features easily adjusted 600-1500 rpm variable speeds and a pivoting head. The 8½-inch, 360-degree swivel sanding head automatically conforms to ceilings, corners, and other tight surfaces. This drywall sander also has a hook and loop base pad that allows you to simply peel and (Velcro) stick the new sandpaper disc in place.
The foldable WEN 6369 is a good value for the money for home use although it is not recommended for repetitive professional use. It comes with the 15-foot dust hose and six 9-inch variable-grit (60, 80, 120, 150, 180, and 240) sanding discs (replacement discs may be difficult to find in local hardware stores). It carries a 2-yr. limited warranty and CA Prop 65 warning.
WEN 6369: Check the current price
Dual-Head Drywall Sander | WEN 6377
The upscale WEN 6377 electric drywall sander is a variable speed, dual circular- and triangular-head sander. Both heads are easily changed using the latch release. No installation tools are required. Maximum torque is provided by a 5 amp head motor. It is ETL-listed and offers an automatic dust removal system and 15-foot flexible dust hose for maximum dust control. This 9-pound sander has an adjustable handle that fully extends to a telescopic 60 inches.
The WEN 6377 folds for easy transportation and storage. It features easily adjusted 600-1500 rpm variable speeds and dual pivoting heads. The 360-degree swivel sanding head automatically conforms to ceilings, corners, and other tight surfaces. This drywall sander also has a hook and loop base pad that allows you to simply peel and (Velcro) stick the new sandpaper disc or triangle pad in place.
The folding WEN 6377 is a good value for the money for home use but may be too heavy for daily professional use. It comes with the 15-foot flexible dust hose and six each 9-inch variable-grit (60, 80, 120, 150, 180, and 240) sanding discs and 11¼-inch triangular sandpapers. Replacement sandpapers are available at wenproducts.com. It also comes with a 2-yr. limited warranty and technician/customer service helpline.
WEN 6377: Check the current price
Affordable Variable-Speed Drywall Sander | ALEKO 690D
The ALEKO 690D electric drywall sander designed to remove adhesives and mud and sand and clean walls, floors, and ceilings that are too large for a manual hand sander. It is a 110V, 60Hz, 600-watt input, ETL-listed sanding unit. It can be used with or without a (separately-sold) vacuum cleaner attachment. This durable electric sander weighs 8lbs. It has a short 43-in handle that fully extends to a telescopic 65 inches. It features easily adjustable 1000-2000 rpm variable speeds. It does not have a low rpm for softer surface sanding.
The virtually dust-free ALEKO 690D is considered efficient and delivers good performance at a “bargain price.” Although it does not sand corners or tight spaces very effectively. The ALEKO 690D comes with a vacuum hose assembly, telescopic handle, six 9-inch variable-grit sanding discs, and a 1-yr. warranty.
ALEKO 690D: Check the current price
Drywall Sander with a 13-Foot Hose | Porter-cable 7800
The innovative Porter-Cable 7800 electric drywall sander is a durable, variable speed, orbital sander. This 8.5-pound model has a wide articulating head for greater sanding coverage and a 60-inch long handle for greater reach. It is a 120V, 60Hz, AC (only) sanding unit with maximum torque provided by a 4.7 amp head motor opposite the handle from sanding head for better balance and control. It has a built-in 13-foot static-dissipating vacuum hose that aids in maximizing dust control.
The well-balanced Porter-Cable 7800 features 1400-2000 rpm variable orbital speeds that efficiently prep surfaces to a primer/paint-ready stage. This drywall sander also has a hook and loop base pad that allows quick peel and stick sandpaper changes. Note that the sanding head only gets within ¾ in. of a corner so some hand sanding should be expected.
This drywall sander is recommended for professionals/contractors. This more expensive Porter-Cable 7800 model is highly-rated because it is a trusted brand that offers dust-free operation, easy sandpaper changing, and superior finishing qualities. It comes with the 13-foot static-dissipating vacuum hose, hook & loop straps for power cord mounting to an external vacuum, and a sanding pad. It also includes a 30-day performance certification and 1-yr. warranty.
Porter-cable: Check the current price
Comparative Chart of Drywall Sander Effectiveness
Motor/Power: 600 watts
Motor/Power: 5 amp
Motor/Power: 5 amp
Motor/Power: 800 watts
Motor/Power: 4.7 amp
Safety and Precautions
Work area preparation prior to sanding is important to minimize and contain the fine, floating, flour-like dust that results during the sanding. Drywall dust floats in the air, finds its way into crevices, and coats everything in the room, including you! Drywall dust is also an irritant that can harm your exposed head and body areas.
- Remove or cover all surfaces and furnishings with sheets or drop cloths.
- Seal air-return ducts so the dust cannot spread through the ducts and vents into other areas.
- Sealing air-return ducts also minimize resultant AC filter blockages.
- Properly ventilate the area. Open windows and doors.
- Removing window/door screens that tend to catch the drywall dust eliminates the need to clean them later.
- Use a box fan to remove dust-contaminated air.
- Use proper safety gear, including goggles and a dust mask or respirator. Change your dust mask and/or mask filters often. Also, wear coveralls or long pants and a long-sleeved shirt to prevent direct contact of the drywall dust with your skin.
How good are drywall sanders?
They achieve faster, smoother results easier than sanding drywall by hand. Although not all drywall sanding heads effectively get into corners and tight spaces. Check before buying.
What is the best brand on the market?
WEN is a well-known affordable market brand. Porter-Cable is a top-rated professional brand.
What sandpaper is best for drywall?
You do not sand drywall. You sand the joint compound used to fill grooves and cover tape. Coarser 120-grit sandpaper is used for rough-sanding. A final pass with 150-grit sandpaper is optional.
Can you use an electric sander on plaster?
Yes, with fine-grit sandpaper.
How do you vacuum drywall dust?
A wet/dry, HEPA filter, a shop vac is the most effective way to vacuum the dust. Wipe dust-covered items with a damp microfiber cloth.
Pros & Cons of Using
Drywall sanders are fast, efficient, and easy to use. Most DIYers can achieve professional results using long-handled, dustless, variable speed, pivoting-head sanders.
The primary drawback is the dust they inject into the air that needs to be vacuumed later. Even the best “dustless” drywall sanders emit dust. Wear protective clothing and a respirator/mask to prevent direct skin contact and dust inhalation.
Drywall sanders are used to smooth patches and drywall joints faster, easier, and more effectively. They may be simple handheld manual models or heavier, high-speed, electric-powered. Heavier sanders are more durable but can make overhead/ceiling work tedious. Aluminum types are typically lighter weight, but require more pressure to adequately smooth deficiencies.
Technologies: Drywall sanders may be a variable speed which allows greater sanding/pressure control. They may have pivoting heads for greater tight space and corner finishing. Telescopic pole head extensions also provide better overhead and ceiling access. The placement of the motor on the handle can also contribute to better overall balance and sander control. EPA-regulated (ETL-listed) point-of-origin dust containment mechanisms also help ensure the sander provides maximum dust control.
The prices range from very affordable lighter weight sanders that are suitable for DIY or finish sanding to very expensive, high-powered professional units designed for greater performance and productivity.