Why You Should Wet Drywall Sanding

If you own a home of any kind, you’re familiar with how expensive any repair or remodel can be, which is why many homeowners try to keep those costs down through sweat, that is, by doing the work themselves whenever possible. Trading time and effort for money is the right decision, but it can lead to dire consequences. For example: Sanding drywall. This task is hard work and takes time. And dust, so much dust. It doesn’t really matter in a new build or major renovation, but if you’re renovating your walls, that thick layer of dust will go everywhere, and when alien archaeologists dig up your house in a million years, they’ll still find it. Even if you drape everything with cloth and plastic, this dust will find its way onto everything and stay there.

The good news is that there is a way to minimize this dust: wet sanding. It won’t necessarily make drywall sanding easier, but it will absolutely reduce dust, turning your home into a moonscape.

Sponge strength

When you sand drywall mortar with a block of sandpaper or a power sander, you create a metric ton of grout dust. Instead of trying to vacuum or use a plastic tent around the area, try wet sanding with an abrasive sponge , which reduces dust by wetting it. You dip the sponge in water, swirl it around until it’s barely damp, and then sand as you normally would. Not only does water trap a lot of dust before it flies into the air (and into your lungs), it also dissolves the joint sealer as you go, smearing it and smearing it around.

This does not make the job easier, but it absolutely reduces the amount of dust. This is ideal when you’re renovating something in a finished furnished room and don’t want to take out all the furniture and stuff or cover everything to sand a small section of the wall. To be clear, there will still be dust, but it will be damp and limited to the immediate area, and much of it will be captured by the sponge itself. When your sponge is overloaded with drywall compound, simply rinse it out and go back to it.

How to wet the sand

Wet sanding is not difficult, but doing it right will save you a lot of pain and suffering:

  1. Dampen the sponge with water, then wring it out thoroughly. You want “wet”, not soaked.
  2. Sand the wall with the rough side of the sponge, starting with the highest bumps and the roughest areas. Rinse off when the sponge is full and repeat.
  3. When the drywall mix has a uniform surface, rinse the sponge and switch to the smooth side. Dampen it and use it to blend the edges of the seams so they blend in with the rest of the wall. You should also go over the rest of the seams with the smooth side to even out the compound.
  4. Stop after the second pass (smooth side). Repeated applications can make the drywall paper wet and warp the joints. If you think you need extra passes to get it perfect, let the area dry before tackling it again.

Wet Sanding Cautions

While wet sanding is a much less messy way to sand drywall joints, there are a few things to consider:

  • End. Wet sanding with a sponge works differently than dry sanding. As already noted, it spreads the compound a little, making it wet and flexible. The result is a much smoother surface than dry sanding and may not match the texture of the rest of the wall, especially if it’s a renovation. If final texture is a priority, dry sanding may be a better choice. Also, because wet sanding is, uh, wet , you can easily overdo it and dissolve too much joint compound, exposing the joint tape or ruining a thorough repair. The best approach is to work gradually and be vigilant.
  • Time. Wet sanding takes longer than dry sanding. The use of a sponge requires much more care and dexterity, which slows down the work, and it does not remove joint compound as effectively as dry sanding. If you’re trying to make repairs quickly, wet sanding may not be the right choice. On the other hand, cleaning up after wet sanding will go much faster because you won’t have drywall dust in the most unexpected places around the house.
  • There are no tools. Unlike dry sanding, you cannot use power tools while wet sanding, which increases the proportion of sweat in “sweat capital”.

Wet sanding won’t necessarily make remodeling or repairs easier, but it will make them a little neater and easier to manage. If you have the time and patience, this is a good way to bring a little common sense to any drywall and sealer-related project.


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