Drywall sanding screen is a special product that is designed for, well you guessed it, sanding drywall. Your first question will likely be, 'How is it different from sandpaper?'. Put simply, it is truly a screen and the holes allow the dust to fall away without 'loading' up the grit. Another key feature is that it can be flipped over since it has grit on both sides.

There are several related topics that you are likely going to be interested in. See one or all of the articles, 'Patching Drywall', 'Fixing Holes in Drywall', 'Taping and Mudding Drywall', 'Plaster Wall Repairs' and 'Spackling Drywall'.

Many drywall finishing professionals prefer sanding screen to sand paper. However, the consensus is not conclusive, there are a significant number of professionals that also say that sand paper is the better way to go.

For a homeowner with a small drywall patch to deal with it may be a moot point. For small jobs, it does not matter that much whether you use, sanding screen, sandpaper or a sanding sponge. The determining factor is going to be, 'What do you have in your garage or basement?'.

When you have a larger project and need to purchase supplies, you may want to consider your options. The information below covers the way that drywall sanding screen is used, the advantages, drawbacks and instructions on how to use it.

Drywall Sanding Screen Uses

Sanding large areas of drywall that have been recently finished is where drywall sanding screen really shines. It works best on fresh drywall compound that is completely dry. Using it on compound that is not dry will cause it the load and fill the holes, rendering the screen useless.

You can also use sanding screen on a pole sander to prepare for painting. However, paint will fill and load the holes in the sanding screen. When the build up gets to a certain point the screen will not work effectively. Even turning the sheet over will not give you much more sanding power.

Drywall sanding screen does not work well at all on wood or painted surfaces. Paint tends to gum it up quicker than it does sandpaper. For bare wood surfaces it has a tendency to raise the grain and separate the fibers, making for a poor finishing surface.

Drywall Sanding Screen Pros

The main advantage to drywall sanding screen is that, it has holes in it. The holes allow the drywall dust to dissipate and not build up. Clogging of the aggregate on sand paper is the thing that will render it ineffective. Sanding screen allows the dust to fall away and not build up on the abrasive surface.

Another main advantage is that it has grit on both sides. When you where down one side, you can flip it over and continue using it. Effectively, sanding screen will last much longer than sand paper.

This material comes mostly in pre-cut sheets that are made to fit on the head of a sanding pole. This is the common tool used by drywall finishers for sanding duties. Simply loosen the clamps on the head and insert the pre-cut sheet and away you go.

Drywall Sanding Screen Cons

It designed for use on gypsum finishing products. It does a poor job on other surface.

It gums up easily when used on painted surfaces. It will work to prep walls for painting, but you will not get your moneys worth, since the paint will bind it up quickly, making the second side useless.

Where Do You Purchase Sanding Screen?

Drywall sanding screen is usually sold at locations that sell drywall and drywall finishing products.  Big box stores like Home Depot and Lowes will have it. Most hardware stores and some paint stores will also carry it.

It is usually sold in pre-cut sheets that are approximately 4 1/4" x 11 1/4". It can be found in full size sheets that are the same as regular sandpaper, but this is less common.

The sheets are packaged with as few as (1) sheet and as many as (100) sheets. Two to five sheets in a package is the likely amount. For a small repair job, a single sheet will be more than enough.

How to Use Drywall Sanding Screen

Sanding screen is not that hard to use. Most of the time it comes in pre-cut sheets that are attached to a special sanding head. This head is either hand held or attached to a pole that has a pivoting head.

Using the Sanding Head

The sanding block will have a clamp on each side to hold the sanding screen in place. You will notice the sheets are notched at the location for the bolt that holds the clamp in place. There are also notches at the corners where the sheet is intended to fold over the sanding block.

Loosen the clamp on one side and insert the screen into the clamp, centering it on the sanding block. Tighten the wing nut on the clamp and fold the sanding screen back over the face of the sanding block.

Loosen the other clamp and fold the screen over the end of the block. You want to get the screen underneath the clamp and pushed in as far as it can go. Tighten the clamp and you are ready for action.

Using a Sanding Pole

When you have large areas to sand, a sanding pole is the tool of choice. The head pivots allowing you to get into corners and change directions at will. The pole also allows you to reach larger areas from one position. You can also sand normal height ceilings from the floor without using a bench or ladder.

A sanding pole takes a little getting used to. When you try and change directions you may find that the head tends to flip over, sometimes denting or marking the surface you are sanding. Change directions slowly until you get used to the feel of how it pivots, it will save you some touch up.

You don't want to press too hard on the head. Let the sanding screen do its job. The idea is to get the area smooth for painting. If you cut too deeply into the compound you will groove it, or take all of the mud off the tape. When this happens you will have to apply more compound.

If the surface is too uneven, you may have to brush off the high points and skim it with compound another time. Use your hand and a light to see if you are getting the surface prepared properly. If you feel high spots, hit it again with the sanding screen lightly until you get a smooth surface.

You can also check your work with a light. Hold a light at a low angle to the surface that you are sanding to check for shadows. The light will pick up every imperfection in your wall, so only do it if you think you are missing something. If you see obvious flaws with the light you can continue sanding or applying another coat to depressions. Don't look for perfection, you just want it to look smooth when it is painted.

Sanding Screen Warnings

One caution that cannot be overemphasized is not to sand too hard. If you have to sand hard you probably have not properly filled all of the voids with drywall compound.

The danger is that you will sand through the compound and into the tape or paper. When that happens, you need to start over in applying the compound. You will likely be faced with two more coats of compound. You will have to wait for them to dry and your painting project will be further delayed.

So be gentle when you use sanding screen. This counsel is even more important when you are using lightweight compound. This type of compound is softer than the standard stuff, and cuts away quickly when sanded.

Drywall Sanding Screen Summary

In this article we have provided you with an overview of what drywall sanding screen is used for. It is a fairly inexpensive and versatile product that can help you with any drywall or sheetrock project.

There are several related topics that you are likely going to be interested in. See one or all of the articles, 'Patching Drywall', 'Fixing Holes in Drywall', 'Taping and Mudding Drywall', 'Plaster Wall Repairs' and 'Spackling Drywall'.


You also learned where you can purchase sanding screen at and what type of packaging it comes in. If you are doing a small job, you may be able to buy as little as one or two sheets. Normally, sanding screen is used with some special sanding heads. They are not a big investment and they make the job a lot easier.

Finally we talked about how to use drywall sanding screen. There are some cautions and you want to tread lightly with this tool, or you might wind up doing some of your work over again.

We hope your project is going as planned and that the sanding screen meets your expectations.

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