The Best Drywall Sanders of 2022

Proper sanding is key to achieving a high-quality finish with drywall. In this article we check out the best drywall sanding tools for all budgets.

By Bob Beacham | Updated May 19, 2022 12:20 PM

BobVila.com and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

The Best Drywall Sanders Option

Photo: amazon.com

Few people look forward to sanding drywall, but fortunately there are a wide variety of tools that make the job quicker and easier. They vary from basic manually powered pole sanders to those with their own collecting bag to minimize airborne dust.

We have put together the following article to explain in detail how each of these devices works and the features that separate them from one another. We also take a closer look at some of the best drywall sanders currently available to help you choose the right solution for your project.

  1. BEST OVERALL: WEN Variable Speed Dual-Head Drywall Sander
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Hyde 09170 Dust-Free Drywall Vacuum Sander
  3. BEST POLE SANDER: Marshalltown 3.25-in x 9.25-in Pole Sander
  4. BEST HANDHELD: Handife Handheld Drywall Sander
  5. BEST CORDLESS: DEWALT 20-Volt MAX Cordless 9 in. Drywall Sander
  6. BEST ALL-IN-ONE: Ginour Variable Speed Drywall Sander
  7. HONORABLE MENTION: POWER PRO 1090X Electric Drywall Sander
  8. ALSO CONSIDER: YATTICH Drywall Sander
The Best Drywall Sanders Option

Photo: amazon.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Drywall Sanders

Those who already own a sander might wonder whether a dedicated drywall sander is really necessary. It really depends on the area being worked on. While random orbital or detail sanders can cope with small areas, trying to sand a whole room soon becomes very tiring. Even at their simplest, drywall sanders have the advantage, as the following section explains.

Types of Drywall Sanders

A manual sanding block that can be bought in any hardware store will sand drywall, but its small size and the physical effort required makes these impractical.

The most basic solution is a larger pad, attached to a pole. Not surprisingly, they are called pole sanders. The head can be oblong or round and takes a hook-and-loop sanding disc or a sanding screen (more on that below). Better versions incorporate a hose that can be attached to a shop vac.

The obvious progression is to powered solutions. Portable cable sanders or cordless versions can be handheld or attached to a pole. These are effectively a large-diameter orbital drywall sander. They usually hook up to a shop vac or their own dust collection system. A self-contained dustless sander is not only a rapid way to finish drywall but also dramatically reduces cleanup time.

Motor Power and Speed

Electric drywall sanders allow DIYers and professionals to work faster. Heads vary in size from 7 inches to 9 inches, so a reasonably powerful motor is important to drive them efficiently. We would recommend 5 amps and 600 watts at minimum. Up to 7 amps and 800 watts are readily available.

Cordless models are rated in volts, which reflects the battery power. The few models currently available are all 20V. The amp-hour (Ah) capacity of the battery is another important element. The higher this is, the longer the tool will run without needing to be recharged. It is also worth pointing out that cordless tools are often sold “bare.” While the price might look attractive, both the battery and the charger cost extra.

Electric drywall sanders also offer variable speed. This offers improved control for rapid material removal or fine finishing. It varies depending on the model, but the tools we looked at ran anywhere from 500 rpm to 2,300 rpm.

Flexibility and Hose Length and Weight

Sanding drywall usually involves working from floor to ceiling height and possibly across the ceiling itself. The reach provided by the drywall sander has a major impact on convenience. Handheld electric models—much like an orbital sander but with a larger head—are often more affordable than long-reach versions, but a ladder is required to reach the top of walls.

Low-cost manual pole sanders can offer good reach and have articulated joints that allow for multiple sanding angles. However, the pole may not be included, whereas the best drywall sanders include a telescopic pole. If dust collection is offered, it is important to check hose length. If it’s short, the collecting bag or shop vac will be close to the user and could get in the way. Some vacuum bags have shoulder straps to overcome the problem.

Weight also has a bearing. Most electric models have head-mounted motors. A heavy tool will prove tiring, particularly if the drywall sander is used above shoulder height for extended periods.

Sanding Discs and Screens

Many drywall sanders use hook-and-loop discs that are inexpensive and easy to change. A range of grits is available and includes anywhere from 60-grit for fast material removal to 220-grit for final finishing before painting.

The challenge with standard sanding discs is that even on drywall sanders with dust collection, the disc can clog quickly. Sanding screens are an alternative that can fit some tools. The mesh screen is resistant to tearing and doesn’t clog as easily. Many can be rinsed and reused, whereas discs are usually disposable. You’ll find a wide range of sanding screens for rectangular pole sanders, which are attached via clamps or clips. It can be difficult, however, to find screens for 9-inch-diameter heads that take hook-and-loop discs.

Our Top Picks

The information above provides useful detail about the technical aspects of drywall sanders. Now it’s time to look at practical examples. The following represent what we believe are the best drywall sanders in their categories.

Best Overall

The Best Drywall Sanders Option: WEN 6377 Variable Speed 5-Amp Dual-Head Drywall
Photo: amazon.com

The WEN 6377 drywall sander comes from a company with an outstanding reputation for durability and affordability. It follows a common design for corded electric models with a head-mounted motor. This one is rated 5A, 600W and offers variable speed between 600 and 1,500 rpm. The head can pivot and swivel, allowing use at all angles.

The outstanding feature of the WEN 6377 is the inclusion of a triangular head in addition to the typical 9-inch round version. Changing is rapid and tool-free. This allows the drywall sander to reach right into corners, something none of its competitors offer. The triangular head might not be used often, but hand sanding with a block is the only alternative. A starter pack of sanding sheets is included.

The flexible hose can stretch up to 15 feet. While vacuum bags are seldom as efficient as shop vacs, it would be nice if one was included. As is often the case with these tools, the motor is quite heavy. Using it as a ceiling sander can soon become tiring.

Product Specs

  • Type: Corded electric
  • Weight: 16 pounds
  • Dust collection: Hose for shop vac

Pros

  • Twin sanding heads
  • Variable speed
  • Renowned durability

Cons

  • No dust bag
  • Somewhat heavy

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Drywall Sanders Option: Hyde 09170 Dust-Free Drywall Vacuum Sander
Photo: amazon.com

Manual pole sanders offer a low-cost solution, but the usual drawback (apart from the physical effort required) is that drywall dust gets everywhere.

The Hyde 09170 vacuum sander is different in that it includes a hose attachment, plus an adapter that will fit 1¼-inch, 1½-inch, or 2½-inch hoses. This covers the vast majority of shop vacs. A hollow vacuum pole can be attached, or use any standard broom or painter’s pole with an acme thread (no pole is provided). Users may not achieve the 97 percent dust collection claimed, but it is much cleaner and healthier than sanding alone.

The swiveling head is designed to clamp a sanding screen rather than using hook-and-loop abrasives. A washable, reusable screen is included.

Product Specs

  • Type: Manual pole
  • Weight: 2 pounds
  • Dust collection: Hose for shop vac

Pros

  • Comes with vacuum hose and adapter
  • Very light
  • Good value

Cons

  • No pole included
  • Large areas are hard work

Best Pole Sander

The Best Drywall Sanders Option: Marshalltown 3.25-in x 9.25-in Pole Sander
Photo: lowes.com

For those on a tight budget or who have only a modest amount of drywall to sand, a manual pole sander is a cheap and efficient solution. The Marshalltown model includes a lightweight aluminum pole, which is something many rivals omit.

The reinforced cast aluminum head is light, maneuverable, and doesn’t flex, thus keeping the abrasive flat against the wall. The quick-action clamps are designed to hold sanding screens, which are more durable than sanding discs. They can be bought to size, or further savings are possible by buying the screen on a roll and cutting it to fit.

The downside of the Marshalltown manual pole sander is the amount of dust it generates, so extra cleanup time is necessary. While respiratory protection is always recommended for sanding drywall, in this case it’s a necessity.

Product Specs

  • Type: Manual pole
  • Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Dust collection: None

Pros

  • Durable cast-aluminum head
  • Pole included
  • Uses long-lasting sanding screens

Cons

  • No dust collection
  • No abrasive included

Best Handheld

The Best Drywall Sanders Option: Handife Handheld Drywall Sander
Photo: amazon.com

The Handife handheld drywall sander is a compact alternative to models that have a motor on the end of a long pole. It is easier to control, particularly with the auxiliary handle, though the weight is similar. The downside is a loss of reach, and working from a ladder will sometimes be necessary.

Fortunately, the vacuum dust collecting bag, which operates automatically when the sander is started, has a convenient shoulder strap. The motor is a powerful 7A, 800W unit, driving the 7-inch-diameter head at five speeds from 1,200 to 2,300 rpm.

The head has a ring of LEDs, useful for working in poorly lit areas. Sections of the head frame, which help prevent dust escaping, can be detached to get closer to edges. However, this reduces suction for the vacuum.

Product Specs

  • Type: Corded electric
  • Weight: 8.7 pounds
  • Dust collection: Vacuum bag

Pros

  • Powerful motor
  • Automatic dust collection
  • Auxiliary handle for improved control

Cons

  • Limited reach
  • Modest suction from the vacuum bag

Best Cordless

The Best Drywall Sanders Option: DEWALT 20-Volt MAX Cordless 9 in. Drywall Sander
Photo: homedepot.com

The main advantage offered by the DeWalt cordless drywall sander is the ability to work in locations where no electricity is available. The 20V brushless motor delivers competitive power, driving the 9-inch head at speeds from 700 to 1,200 rpm.

Unfortunately, runtime is only around 30 minutes when using the recommended 5Ah battery, so a spare battery is something of a necessity. There is also a bit of a weight penalty, though the tool is well balanced. Automatic dust extraction is possible if a compatible DeWalt vacuum is attached. The DeWalt coupling system provides a very good seal but makes using shop vacs from other manufacturers impractical.

The DeWalt cordless drywall sander is a high-quality tool, and it is possible to put together a completely wireless drywall sanding solution. However, for many the cost will be prohibitive.

Product Specs

  • Type: Cordless electric
  • Weight: 12.6 pounds
  • Dust collection: Hose connection (no hose provided)

Pros

  • The freedom of cordless
  • Variable speed
  • Brushless motor maximizes battery life

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Battery and charger extra

Best All-in-One

The Best Drywall Sanders Option: Ginour Variable Speed Drywall Sander
Photo: amazon.com

The Ginour drywall sander comes as a comprehensive kit that not only includes a vacuum bag and a dozen abrasive discs but spare brushes for the motor (the things that likely wear out first) and the tools to change them.

The 9-inch head has a wide range of movement and is attached to an extendable pole. The motor is a 6A, 750W model with seven speeds from 1,000 to 1,800 rpm. Thirteen feet of flexible hose attaches to a vacuum bag with automatic activation. A figure of 98 percent dust absorption is perhaps optimistic, though a shop vac is an option.

As is common with these tools, there is an LED light ring, and sections of the head frame can be removed for sanding in corners. Everything can be stored in the convenient carry bag.

Product Specs

  • Type: Corded electric
  • Weight: 11 pounds
  • Dust collection: Vacuum bag

Pros

  • Comprehensive kit
  • Competitive price
  • Handy carry bag

Cons

  • Vacuum provides moderate suction
  • Occasional reports of quality-control issues

Honorable Mention

The Best Drywall Sanders Option: POWER PRO 1090X Electric Drywall Sander
Photo: amazon.com

The Power Pro drywall sander follows a quite common design. Several other manufacturers produce a very similar drywall vacuum sander, so small differences are important.

Where the Power Pro leads much of the competition is with the power and versatility of the motor. It is a 6.7A, 800W unit with a class-leading variable speed range from 500 to 1,800 rpm. There is the standard LED light ring and sections of removable frame for reaching into corners. Interestingly, this frame has ball bearings intended to promote smoother movement. An automatic vacuum bag and carry bag are also supplied.

It is relatively heavy, and the weight is concentrated in the head. Controlling it can prove tiring, and, in fact, Power Pro suggests frequent breaks be taken. They rate dust collection efficiency at 80-plus percent. Refreshingly honest, perhaps, but that does mean 20 percent of dust escapes, requiring extra cleanup.

Product Specs

  • Type: Corded electric
  • Weight: 14 pounds
  • Dust collection: Vacuum bag

Pros

  • Everything required is in the kit
  • Excellent speed range
  • Smooth-running ball-bearing frame

Cons

  • Heavier than many
  • Dust collection could be better

Also Consider

The Best Drywall Sanders Option: YATTICH Drywall Sander
Photo: amazon.com

The Yattich drywall sander has a lot in common with both the Ginour and Power Pro tools. A 9-inch multiposition head works in conjunction with a vacuum bag to provide a convenient, highly portable, all-in-one solution.

The 6A, 710W motor on the Yattich is adequate if not particularly powerful. There are seven speeds, from 1,000 to 1,800 rpm. The telescoping handle does have an advantage over most competitors, being just 3.6 feet when closed and 5.9 feet fully open. It also has a rear handle, which is especially useful for control given the somewhat heavy head.

An LED ring and the usual removable frame sections complete the specification. While there’s nothing outstanding about the Yattich drywall sander, it is a decent tool at an attractive price.

Product Specs

  • Type: Corded electric
  • Weight: 16.5 pounds
  • Dust collection: Vacuum bag

Pros

  • Competitive performance
  • Good extension range
  • Additional extension handle

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Typically modest suction

Our Verdict

The WEN 6377 variable-speed drywall sander is a terrific all-around tool. It is flexible, durable, competitively priced, and has a triangular head that sets it apart from its rivals. The Hyde 09170 manual pole sander is basic, but the addition of a hose is a smart idea that will stop the user from getting completely covered in unpleasant dust.

How We Chose the Best Drywall Sanders

As an engineer, I have a good understanding of the technical aspects of these tools. As someone who has completed ground-up remodeling of two homes, I have practical experience with drywall sanding. I have also conducted considerable research into the range of tools currently available and the opinions of users and independent reviewers.

We have been careful to cover methods of drywall sanding for all budgets. While powered models are undoubtedly more efficient on large jobs, we have included affordable manual versions that will make even relatively small tasks that much easier.

Build quality was also a key feature, regardless of drywall sander type or cost. Drywall dust can play havoc with linkages, mechanisms, and motors, so it was important our picks could stand up to this difficult environment.

FAQs

In the sections above, we looked at the technical aspects of the best drywall sanders and offered a selection of the top models currently available. While that information will have answered many questions, during our research we found a number of others that crop up often. Those are included below.

Q. Is a drywall sander worth it?

For small drywall repairs, a finishing sander can do a reasonable job. For large areas, particularly if involving more than one room, a drywall sander is faster, and most offer much better dust control.

Q. Can you use a hand sander to sand drywall?

You can. Any good hand sander can be used, though the job will take considerably longer, and most have no kind of dust control.

Q. Should I use ear protection when using drywall sanders?

It is advisable. Noise levels above 80 decibels (dB) may cause hearing loss, and in work situations, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) requires hearing protection for sound levels above 85 dB. Many drywall sanders are around this level, but even when quieter, prolonged exposure can be uncomfortable.

Q. Can drywall dust make you sick?

Yes. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), drywall dust can cause eye, nose, throat, and respiratory tract irritation. Long exposure can lead to coughing, phlegm production, and breathing difficulties similar to asthma. Using some kind of mask while sanding is absolutely vital. We recommend a half-mask respirator with replaceable filters.

Q. What is the best way to get rid of drywall dust?

Drywall dust is very fine and flies everywhere. Damping it down with a water spray helps it stick together and makes for easier cleanup. Any spray bottle that produces a reasonably fine mist will do. You don’t want to soak things; just make them damp. Next, use a soft broom to sweep up as much dust as possible. Finally, vacuum. Drywall dust can easily clog household vacuums, so a shop vac is recommended.