How to wet sand drywall to avoid dust?

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Painting your walls can transform a boring room into something extraordinary! And the best way to ensure a flawless paint job is to prep the walls until they’re a smooth canvas for your new color.

But once you’ve filled in the holes and cracks, are you ready to tackle the sanding?

When you think of sanding drywall, you probably think of a big cloud of dust. And layers of the fine stuff covering your surrounding rooms, even in areas you can’t even see! And if you have dust allergies, this can be torture.

But this doesn’t have to be the case; you can sand drywall with less dust if you do it differently. No dust everywhere in your home, clothes, and even your hair.

In this post, I will share tips on avoiding drywall dust by using the wet sanding method.

drywall sandpaper used for wet sanding


Sanding is the process of evening out a surface, whatever that may be. Wet sanding uses a rough material like sandpaper that is immersed into water and then used to sand.

One of the biggest benefits of wet sanding is that it reduces dust.

But if wet sanding is so great, why isn’t everyone using it?

  • Wet sanding is more time-consuming than dry sanding. Though dry sanding does require a lot of dust cleanup afterwards, both methods probably take the same amount of time when you consider the cleanup.
  • Also, wet sanding can leave small wave imprints since the sponge or sandpaper used is more flexible then what is used when dry sanding.
  • And because you are wet sanding, you must wait until the wall is dry again before painting.
  • Plus, it’s not as practical for large areas such as a whole basement.

But don’t let that stop you!

Wet sanding is perfect for a DIYer because it reduces the amount of dust, and you are probably living in your home while you’re doing this.

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How to wet sand drywall to avoid dust


TIP: Any stiff sponge will do the job but you will have better results with a drywall sponge or sandpaper designed for wet sanding.


Fill the bucket with warm water, about half to three-quarters of the way full.

Dip the sanding tool into the water and wring out the excess.

TIP: You don’t want the sponge to be too dry. You want it damp enough to loosen and dissolve the joint compound.


SIDE NOTE: If you are using a sponge, you will notice that there is an abrasive side (rougher). This side is used to help sand down high spots.

Start off by focusing on the bumpiest areas for your first pass.

Move the sanding sponge against the drywall in a circular motion over the high spots.

Don’t press too hard when sanding in one spot because this can create a crater, valley, or holes in the area. Resist the temptation of scrubbing aggressively to speed up the process because, in the end, it will cause you more work.

TIP: Let the sponge and water do the work, not the strength of your hand!

Continue sanding gently until the area softens to an even surface.

If the sanding sponge begins to dry out or builds up with compound, rinse out the sponge and continue sanding with a new dampened sponge.

TIP: To remove the built-up compound on the sandpaper, use a scrubbing brush to scrape off the sandpaper in the water.

Also, don’t forget to refill your bucket with clean water when needed.


Once the bumps are gone, focus on smoothing out the edges. This reduces the visibility of the seams after painting.

SIDE NOTE: If you are using the drywall sponge, switch to the smooth side to smooth out the edges.

Smoothing the edges is considered a second pass and you should finish here because you do not want to get the drywall paper too wet.


Once the area is completely smooth, let it dry overnight before applying another coat of compound or paint.

TIP: Never do more than two passes before allowing the compound to dry – you might accidentally remove the joint taping.

If you do feel like you need to sand again immediately after the two passes, I would recommend applying another coat of joint compound but this time, water down the compound to help you achieve a smoother finish. See how I do this in my tutorial on how to patch a hole in the drywall.

How to wet sand drywall

How to wet sand drywall

Yield: wet sand drywall to avoid dust
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Active Time: 1 hour
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Cost: $

Are you wondering how to save your lungs when sanding drywall? These are the steps of how to sand drywall without dust by using the wet sand method.

This method is used when patching holes in drywall.


  • drywall sponge or sandpaper meant for wet sanding (here is the one I used)
  • bucket
  • water
  • scrubber (optional but does help)


  1. Wet the sanding sponge so that it is damp.
  2. Sand the bump spots on the wall (make sure to view the full tutorial for more detailed instructions).
  3. Smooth out the edges.
  4. Allow the wall to dry.
  5. Paint the wall with primer and paint.
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