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Understanding Different Sanding Grits for Drywall

Understanding Different Sanding Grits for Drywall

Drywall contractors know that achieving a smooth, professional finish is crucial in any drywall project. One of the key components to reaching that perfect finish is understanding the different sanding grits and knowing when to use each type. This guide will delve into different sanding grits, providing detailed explanations on their uses, especially in the context of drywall work. We'll also highlight the best sanding grits for drywall and offer tips on selecting the right sandpaper grit for sanding drywall compound.

What Are Sanding Grits?

Sanding grits refer to the abrasive particles attached to sandpaper. These particles come in various sizes, which are measured in grits. The grit number indicates the size of the abrasive particles: the lower the number, the coarser the sandpaper; the higher the number, the finer the sandpaper.

Different Sanding Grits Explained

Coarse Grits (40-60)

Coarse grits, ranging from 40 to 60, are the roughest types of sandpaper. They are used for heavy material removal and shaping. When dealing with drywall, coarse grits are typically used to remove old paint or to smooth out rough surfaces before finer sanding.

  • Usage: Removing thick layers of paint or joint compound, shaping edges.
  • Example: 40-grit sandpaper is effective for initial smoothing of rough joints.

Medium Grits (80-120)

Medium grits, such as 80 to 120, are versatile and commonly used in drywall projects. They are suitable for sanding down the drywall compound to even out surfaces and for initial preparation before applying a finer grit.

  • Usage: Smoothing drywall seams and joint compound, general surface preparation.
  • Example: 100-grit sandpaper is ideal for sanding down the drywall compound after it dries.

Fine Grits (150-180)

Fine grits (150-180) are used for final sanding before painting. They help to smooth out any remaining imperfections and prepare the surface for a flawless paint finish.

  • Usage: Final sanding of drywall compound, surface preparation for painting.
  • Example: 150-grit sandpaper is often used for the final pass over drywall joints and compound.

Very Fine Grits (220-240)

Very fine grits, ranging from 220 to 240, are used for very delicate sanding and final touch-ups. They guarantee the smoothest possible surface, which is especially crucial for high-gloss coatings

  • Usage: Final touch-ups before painting, ensuring a smooth surface.
  • Example: 220-grit sandpaper is excellent for the last sanding step before applying paint.

Extra Fine Grits (320 and above)

Extra fine grits (320 and above) are not commonly used in drywall sanding but can be used for polishing and very fine touch-ups.

  • Usage: Polishing surfaces, very fine touch-ups.
  • Example: 320-grit sandpaper can be used for a final polish on drywall if needed.

Best Sanding Grit for Drywall

When sanding drywall, the best grit often depends on the specific task at hand. For most drywall sanding tasks:

  • Initial Sanding: Start with 80-120 grit sandpaper to smooth the joint compound and seams.
  • Final Sanding: Use 150-180 grit sandpaper to finish the surface before painting.

Choosing the right sandpaper grit for sanding drywall compound ensures a smooth, professional finish and helps to avoid over-sanding or creating new imperfections.


Types of Sanding Tools for Drywall

Sanding Sheets

Sanding sheets are typically used with pole sanders. These sheets come in various grits and are perfect for large, flat surfaces. They attach to the sander head and allow for efficient sanding of drywall ceilings and high walls without the need for ladders.

  • Usage: Sanding large, flat surfaces.
  • Example: A pole sander with 120-grit sanding sheets is ideal for smoothing drywall joints on ceilings.
Pole sander for sanding drywall

Sanding Discs

Sanding discs are designed for power sanders. They are very helpful when you need to remove a lot of material rapidly because they offer huge regions fast and efficient sanding. Sanding discs come in a range of grits and can be used for both initial sanding and finishing.

  • Usage: Fast sanding of large areas.
  • Example: An 80-grit sanding disc can quickly remove excess drywall compound.

Sanding Sponges

Sanding sponges are flexible and can conform to the contours of the surface being sanded. They are ideal for hand sanding, particularly around corners and edges. Sanding sponges come in various grits and can be used for both rough sanding and finishing touches.

  • Usage: Hand sanding, corners, and edges.
  • Example: A fine-grit sanding sponge is ideal for finishing the edges of drywall seams.

Hand Sanders

Hand sanders are simple tools that hold sandpaper sheets and allow for manual sanding. They are flexible and suitable for a variety of sanding jobs. Hand sanders are great for detailed work and for sanding smaller areas where power tools may not be practical.

  • Usage: Detailed sanding and smaller areas.
  • Example: Using a hand sander with 150-grit sandpaper for smoothing a small patch on drywall.


Any drywall contractor hoping for a smooth, polished finish must be aware of the various sanding grits and how to use them. You can guarantee a superior outcome that will wow your clients by choosing the right grit for every step of your drywall project.


Using a sanding sponge to sand drywall


What is the best sanding grit for drywall?

For initial sanding, 80-120 grit sandpaper is recommended. This range is effective for smoothing the joint compound and seams without being too abrasive. For final sanding, using 150-180 grit sandpaper helps achieve a fine, smooth surface ready for painting.

Can I use coarse grit sandpaper on drywall?

Coarse grit sandpaper, ranging from 40 to 60, is generally too rough for drywall. It is better suited for tasks like removing old paint or shaping rough edges. Using coarse grit on drywall can create scratches and damage the surface, making it harder to achieve a smooth finish.

What sanding tools are best for drywall?

The best sanding tools for drywall include sanding sponges, pole sanders, and hand sanders. Sanding sponges are flexible and perfect for corners and edges. Pole sanders with sanding sheets are ideal for large, flat surfaces like ceilings and high walls. Hand sanders are great for detailed work and smaller areas.

Why is it important to use the correct sanding grit?

Using the correct sanding grit ensures a smooth finish and prevents damage to the drywall surface. Starting with a medium grit (80-120) for initial sanding and finishing with a fine grit (150-180) helps achieve a professional result without over-sanding or creating new imperfections.

How can I avoid over-sanding drywall?

To avoid over-sanding drywall, use the appropriate grit for each stage of the process. Apply even pressure and frequently check your work to ensure you are not removing too much material. Using a fine grit (150-180) for final sanding can help prevent over-sanding. Additionally, using a light touch and sanding in a circular motion can help maintain control over the sanding process.

Is there a way to sand drywall without dust?

Yes, there are ways to sand drywall with minimal dust. Using a wet sanding method with sanding sponges can significantly reduce dust. Sanding sponges can be dampened to trap the dust particles, making the process cleaner. Additionally, using dust-free sanders equipped with vacuum attachments can help capture dust at the source.

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