Request for advice on sanders to prep for paint


I'd like to ask for advice on purchasing a sander that will help us on some home projects.
We're doing a lot of painting in two houses to just change the look of a few rooms, take out of railings, patch holes and seams with joint compound on drywall, etc. We're not pros, but we're going to try to do a good job. However, our lack of knife skill will require some sanding work and we're thinking of getting an orbital sander to help.
I guess that we're looking for a sanding solution and believe that random orbital is the way to go to smooth surfaces, but if we're way off base then you won't hurt feelings if you set us straight.
Anyway, I've read that dust collection systems vary by model, that sometimes orbital isn't a good choice, etc.
Ideally, I'd like the "best" for the "least amount of money," but I know there are a lot of variables ... how one doesn't gauge the wall, the type of sandpaper, etc.
Is a random orbital the best tool for the job? Is there a brand that offers a decent job (with some effort to learn, obviously), with ease of use?
I appreciate any advice given.
Thank you.
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tom snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

I've done a lot of the work you describe. Only sander I have used is a "Mouse" (B/D? mini-sander) with a pointed pad....got that for getting into corners on some doors I painted. For drywall, all you have to use is a damp cloth wrapped around a flat sanding block, assuming spackle or j.c. is applied decently smooth. Sanding drywall or spackle is horribly dusty otherwise. For normal painting, I use sandpaper and a purchased sanding block....if I need more aggressive, I use coarser sandpaper (rarely). Refills for my little power sander are very expensive. When I paint walls, I do final dust collection with the floor nozzle and vacuum cleaner :o)
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<snip>
The real secret is in your knife (trowel) skills. Try not to get too much on the joint and once relatively smooth resist the urge to give it another touch. If there are ridges from off of the sides of the trowel use a light touch to get it off. Likewise, you could wait until it dries and then hit it with a damp sponge and use an empty trowel as a scraper. Use this technique on the whole joint and keep the dust to a minimum. It produces a very smoothe finish. A pro will probably be checking in on this thread so take his advise over mine, for sure.
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wrote:

Learn to apply compound, use a pole sander with a vac attachment, its quicker less dusty and better than a small mini sander.
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You don't use orbital sanders , belt sanders , ect. on drywall...It will look like crap and fill the house with dust and if your that bad at taping drywall you should get a pro to do that part...Watch , learn and ask questions...If you MUST do it yourself and need to use a power sander go rent the Porter Cable Power Sander and tool triggered Porter Cable Shop Vac...For your small patches I would just buy a couple of Medium/Fime Sanding Sponges and vacume up the mess with your shop vac...Wet Sponging will leave the spot shiney and will be noticable especially with gloss or eggshell paint...HTH...
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-snip-

-snip-
here's what I use. (Amazon.com product link shortened) [that style anyway- I think I paid $40 many years ago at my local Home Depot or Lowes]
They use a screen sanding sheet and suck the dust right through. I don't even see any dust after doing an entire wall or ceiling.
That and any decent shopvac will bring you down to where a sponge will give you a perfect finish.
The key, though- is to *not* put on too much compound. I end up spackling/sanding daily for a week to do a wall. Little bits at a time- let it dry . . . do it again.
I used to work with a guy who would go into a just sheet-rocked room with a bucket of mud, some tape a jug of water and a 12" blade.
He would emerge at noon and you'd swear he'd put a primer coat on the walls. I can only dream of being so good-- it is an art & takes lots of patience.
Jim
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tom snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Look for a "finishing sander" with the ability to attach a shop-vac*. Use the special porous sanding material (it looks like window screen wire and the vacuum sucks through the face into the collection device).
Sanding drywall generates an unbelievable amount of dust (appx: 82 lbs per sq in).
------------ * Home Depot has a mini-shop-vac on sale during Black Friday for $20.00. It fits an ordinary paint bucket (bucket not included).
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