I've never sanded drywall/spackle before so I don't know what is acceptable or not. I'm remodeling my bathroom and have put down a few layers of spackle. Everything looks good and I just wanted to touch it up with some sanding.

I'm using a 220-grit screen and it's leaving small scratches behind. It looks worse than it did before I touched it! I'm not pressing particularly hard.

Is this normal? Does primer fill these small gaps? Or should I go get a finer grit? I checked the big box stores online and it seems 220 is the finest they carry, so I'm guessing these scratches are normal.

I was going to sand all the spackle, now I'm thinking I'll just search around for ridges and sand them down, and leave everything else alone.

closeup of scratches

Click for full size image

  • 1
    FYI the big box stores in my area cary 320 grit, but I really don't think you'd need it for this application.
    – Hank
    Nov 22, 2013 at 3:26
  • 2
    Does primer fill these small gaps? I would put some primer on a small area that is already sanded to test for suitability.
    – getterdun
    Nov 22, 2013 at 4:16

2 Answers 2


It is hard to tell from the picture but I am guessing you are using a traditional screen and you are moving the screen back and forth along one of the axes of the screen. If the less than stellar ascii art below is your screen, instead of instead of moving N-S or E-W move the screen NE-SW or NW-SE. Or start with the screen rotated 45 degrees and continue to sand N-S or E-W

|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
+--+--+--+--+--+--+--+          N
|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |        W + E
+--+--+--+--+--+--+--+          S
|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |

A lot of times primer and paint will fill in these tiny scratches and most people will not notice even if the scratches are not filled in completely. But since it is your house and the scratches bother you go ahead and try the diagonal movements.

  • Thanks!! I just finished one pass and after a while I think I ended up doing what you said, but only coincidentally. I'll do another quick pass using your suggestion tomorrow to get rid of anything left behind. Nov 22, 2013 at 3:29

Wet Sanding

If you want a smooth surface, you could try wet sanding it. Purchase a drywall sanding sponge (~$4.00 at any home improvement store), and use that for the final sanding pass.

Drywall sponge

  • Fill a bucket with water.
  • Dunk the sponge in the water, and then wring it out to remove as much excess water as possible.
  • Using a light circular motion, buff the compound to a smooth finish.

Alternatively, you could purchase this 3M drywall sanding sponge.

3M Sanding Sponge

In has both medium and fine grade on one sponge, and it can be used wet or dry. Similarly, use this sponge in a light circular motion.

Personally, when I'm patching drywall I tend to use a damp microfiber cloth for my finish sanding.

  • 1
    +1 for the damp cloth idea. After sanding, I often just 'buff' it with a damp (not wet) plain ol' car washing sponge. A light touch and a bit of dampness smooths it all out fairly well.
    – DA01
    Nov 22, 2013 at 17:11

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