If you need to keep your home or work area free of drywall dust during a remodel or building project, then dustless drywall sanding will be a big consideration for you to have in your tool chest.
There are obvious benefits to using dustless drywall sanding tools and techniques; but first, decide if the nuisance of preparing for and cleaning up fine gypsum dust is really worse than any extra costs you’ll incur from avoiding it in the first place.
Tip: It usually is!
The fact is, you can really speed up your clean-up time when reducing dust, such as with a dustless drywall sanding machine.
Aside from time saved, there’s something that just makes you happier not having everything around your new walls coated in dust, including your own body and lungs!
When you’re working with gypsum and any kind of sander, dust is inevitable.
Simple cutting alone can release particles of all sizes into the air. Try plunging a keyhole saw into a panel, and you’ll see how much “stuff” is created from your work.
But the biggest culprit by far is the dust from sanding over seams and smoothing out dried joint compound.
Dust particles from dried compound aren’t necessarily harmful to you; however, in large amounts or for people with sensitive respiratory systems, this dust can pose annoyances and/or worsen existing health problems.
It’s no wonder some homeowners are seeking out alternative options in their homes, such as finishing a basement without drywall.
There are really only two ways to effectively keep down dust as you sand.
You can try and work in a bubble, or you can use machines to suck away the dust as you sand down seams. Let’s take a quick look at these.
Build a Plastic Wall to Contain Sanding Dust
This approach is all about containment. Using painter’s plastic, you can simply hang sheets from the ceiling to keep dust in only one room, for example.
Just use common sense as you hang the plastic sheets, i.e. affix with strong tape, like duct tape and seal all seams. Dust can sneak through the tiniest of cracks.
You can leave one seam un-taped for a doorway, then drape a second layer over that seam to act as a door that can move to the side, but still seals the opening.
Of course, this method isn’t ideal as it only contains dust to one area. You’ll still have one dusty place in the end, inside the plastic curtains.
You can use plastic in a pinch, however. It’s also a relatively cheap solution.
Use a Dustless Drywall Sanding Kit
Hands down, the most effective way to keep dust from going everywhere is to capture it first.
A dustless sander is an absolute must-have for a clean, dust-free environment when sanding.
This type of sander basically operates like any other sanding tool you’re already using, except that it attaches to a vacuum.
The vacuum’s suction pulls in the dust as it forms. This keeps it (just about all of it) from spreading in the air and/or dropping to the floor.
Better models for dustless sanding go one step further and filter the dust into a bucket you fill with water first.
That means the dust never has chance to enter your vacuum and potentially clog up your filter.
A wet filtering mechanism like this also just makes cleaning up easier, since you don’t have to accumulate a bunch of powder and try to empty it out later.
You just pour out some thin sludge when the bucket gets full.
Best Dustless Drywall Sander
As with any power tool or device, the market is filled with a variety of options. You most likely just need something that is middle-of-the-road cost and quality wise – but, does the job effectively, making your job and life way easier.
One of the most popular consumer models out there for dustless sanding is the Magna MT 800 Sand and Kleen Hand Sander System. It has a friendly price, and holds up well for any DIY project.
This model is robust enough, but would not be considered heavy-duty. In other words, it’s great for small remodel projects where you’re sanding down 15-20 sheets or so. Even at that, it’s a HUGE time-saver!
For larger projects, or more frequent use, you’ll benefit from investing in a more commercial type model.
That’s not to say the more expensive model will do a better job, but it will make things easier for you. For example, a higher up the line unit will be more comfortable to hold for hours on end. Take a look at a model by Porter-Cable – Model 7800, 4.7amp.
Back to the Sand and Kleen system, the following info is meant to help you once you’ve made the *right* decision and get a time-and pain-saving tool like this.
What You Need
- Sand and Kleen System (comes with 20′ hose, 5-gallon filter bucket, and
- Vacuum (preferably a shop-vac type)
Sanding with a model like the Sand and Kleen will definitely save you hours of clean-up while protecting your environment at the same time.
Below are some helpful tips and points to remember as you take on dustless drywall sanding.
- As you sand, your water bucket will fill up and become sludgy. Plan on dumping it out between every 5-10 minutes.
- The 20′ suction hose may seem flimsy, but it’s much stronger than it appears. (It will hold up as you bend around corners and other objects, and even the occasional stepping on!)
- You’ll love the 20′ hose (longer than many others) with this model. That means it’s easier to use for higher ceilings, and you won’t have to move the system closer to you as much in larger rooms.
- The manufacturer claims this product removes 95% of dust for dustless drywall sanding – experience confirms this is about right, which isn’t too bad!
Drywall Sanding Tips
When you purchase this item, first check that all the parts came in the box. If there are any problems, contact Amazon or Sand and Kleen customer service (1-800 number).
They are really helpful and stand by their life-time warranty on their dust-free sanding products.
With any mechanical tool, this one will take some getting used to for no-dust sanding. Don’t be in a hurry at first (you’ll end up saving lots of time in the long run anyway!).
Just take your time to get used to the feel of holding it and working with the suction across your walls.
Pace yourself as you work. Using a dustless drywall sanding tool can become tiring.
Just take frequent breaks for larger jobs and remind yourself that this is still a lot less work than hand sanding AND having to clean up dust afterwards!
Adjust Pressure as Needed
One of the key complaints with this tool is that the suction is too hard and the sander sticks to the wall.
Be sure to use the pressure control valve on the unit to reduce suction to a comfortable level.
If you notice sanding sheets ripping or that you’re working hard to pull it along the wall, then reduce the sucking pressure.
Take the time to read through the directions carefully. It’s not rocket science, but even just a glance at the instructions can help save you time and frustration in your sanding efforts.
Protect Your Ears
Wear ear plugs when dustless drywall sanding! The noise from the vacuum and the sander can get really loud. If you hear an exceptionally noisy squeal or whistle from the sanding unit, reposition or tighten the hose and sanding seals to minimize, if possible.
If you don’t have a shop-vac, a regular floor vacuum with a canister will do. Just remove the bag if there is one.
Keep in mind when sanding like this that it’s only one part of your overall wall finishing equation.
The dustless sander tool will make clean-up easy, but the quality of your actual sanding depends on other factors such as how well you did your drywall mudding, for example.
If you’re not sure if you want to spend the money on one of these, see if you can rent or borrow one first to get a feel for it.
Depending on the prices at Amazon, some report that a new one at Amazon is less expensive than a used one at eBay.
Dustless drywall sanding is work like any other part of your project whether it’s a new wall or big patch job – but remember, with a good tool and a little experience, you will simplify your project overall!