8 Best Shop Vacs for Drywall Dust 2021 – Reviews & Buying Guide
Few tools are as versatile as a good shop vac. They can clean up everything from spilled water to piles of sawdust and they can even be used as a blower to clean off your tools and more. But drywall dust is very fine, causing it to go through the filters on many shop vacs and come right out the blower, making a cloud of white dust.
We’ve dealt with this problem too many times, so we decided to find the ultimate shop vac for drywall dust. After our testing, the following eight shop vacs were all effective at removing the fine dust. But as you’ll see from our reviews, other traits make some of them clearly preferable over others. Let’s take a look at these shop vacs and see how they compare.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17595 Wet/Dry Vac||
|Best Value||Stanley SL18115 Wet Dry Vacuum||
|Premium Choice||Bosch VAC090AH Dust Extractor||
|Vacmaster VQ607SFD Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum||
|Shop-Vac 9650610 Wet/Dry Vacuum||
The 8 Best Shop Vacs for Drywall Dust – Reviews 2021
1. CRAFTSMAN Wet/Dry Vac – Best Overall
With a stout 6.5 peak horsepower, the CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17595 Wet/Dry Vac seriously impressed us with its suction. No drywall dust will escape from this power. And if you want to dust yourself off outside, the blower port will turn all that power on you, blowing the drywall dust from your hair in mere seconds.
In case you need to vacuum something wet, the extra-large bucket features an oversized drain, making it easy and quick to evacuate any liquids. And when we say extra-large, we mean it. This vacuum has a massive 16-gallon tank, so you can hold quite a lot of dust and debris in there.
Of course, that size is accompanied by a minor dilemma; increased weight. At 26 pounds, this is a pretty hefty vacuum, made very awkward by its large size. Still, it makes up for this with its impressive power and a mix of useful accessories that expand its functionality.
2. Stanley SL18115 Wet Dry Vacuum – Best Value
Some of these shop vacs can get pretty pricey. It might be a worthwhile investment if you’re a drywall professional, but if you only need to clear drywall dust on occasion, then you might be balking at the price that some of these machines go for. If that’s you, then you might want to take a look at the Stanley SL18115 Wet Dry Vacuum, which we think is one of the best shop vacs for drywall dust for the money.
With four-horsepower packed in the motor, this vacuum isn’t the most powerful, but it’s got plenty of suction for most situations. We never had a problem getting it to suck up drywall dust, which is the real litmus test. That said, the small hose is a weak point. It’s got a diameter of just 1.25 inches, which is easily clogged if you attempt to suck up a whole pile of dust at once.
Aiding in the removal of fine dust is the included dust bag and reusable dry filter. Considering the affordable price this vacuum goes for, we think this helps make it a great deal. Add on the one-year warranty and it’s a hard value to beat.
3. Bosch VAC090AH Dust Extractor – Premium Choice
It’s hard not to shudder at the exorbitant price of the Bosch VAC090AH Dust Extractor. But for the discerning drywall professional, it represents the peak of dust-sucking performance. First of all, it’s a dust extractor, not just a vacuum, so it’s built specifically for removing fine dust particles like drywall dust.
Helping to make this dust extractor so effective is the included HEPA filter that captures 99.97% of all particles that are at least 0.3 microns in size. As you can imagine, this would fill up pretty quickly if it weren’t for the auto-cleaning function that cleans the filter every 15 seconds to maintain max suction. It’s starting to become clear where all that money is going!
This dust extractor has some serious suction to the tune of 150 cubic feet per minute. Since you don’t always need all that suction, there’s a Power Broker dial built-in that allows you to match the suction to the job you’re doing. In the end, it’s the most expensive solution for drywall dust, but it’s arguably the most impressive as well.
4. Vacmaster Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum
We liked the Vacmaster Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum, though it didn’t impress us quite enough to crack the top three. Still, it’s got some great traits like the locking hose that won’t pull off when you pull it a little to try and get some extra reach.
At 16 pounds, this vacuum is portable and maneuverable, making it easier to move around than other options we tested. It’s also got built-in accessory storage so you don’t lose the attachments and they’re always there when you need them.
This vacuum has decent suction, but with just three-horsepower, the suction isn’t as great as other models we tested. We also don’t like the stainless-steel bucket. It looks good, but we accidentally left some water in it and noticed that it’s prone to rusting! Luckily, it’s warrantied for two years, so if anything happens within that time frame, it should be replaced without issue.
5. Shop-Vac Wet/Dry Vacuum
At a meager six pounds, this wet/dry shop vac is one of the most portable we’ve seen. It’s got a three-horsepower motor, so we expected it to have decent suction, though the suction is pretty lackluster in reality. Then we noticed that Shop-Vac even admits that their vacuums don’t run at the advertised horsepower rating. We’re not sure what the true power of this vacuum is, but it’s definitely less than three-horsepower.
The included hose is eight feet long and locks into the vacuum so it won’t fall out every time you try to move it. But it’s just 1.25 inches in diameter, so it can easily get clogged if you attempt to suck up too much at once. On the bright side, multiple attachments are included to increase this vacuum’s functionality. Overall, it’s a decent vacuum, but not the one that we’d recommend.
6. Vacmaster Pro VK811PH Wet/Dry Vac
The Vacmaster Pro Wet/Dry Vac moves 125 CFM of air, which is pretty decent, though not the best on this list. It’s equipped with a certified HEPA system that’s 99.97% effective on all particles 0.3 microns and larger. But you’re paying a premium for that feature since this vacuum is one of the most expensive models we tested.
Weighing in at just under 20 pounds, this is one of the heftier vacuums on this list, which is surprising since its tank is made of crush-proof polypropylene that we expected to be much lighter. It’s also tall and top-heavy, and ours toppled over again and again. When that happens, it takes a good minute before you can run the vacuum again, so this was a frustrating time-waster.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only annoying thing that wasted our time. The floor wand doesn’t fit snugly in the hose, so it kept dropping on the floor. A minor frustration, but with a vacuum this pricey, we expected much better.
7. DEWALT Dust Extractor
We’re rarely left disappointed by a DEWALT tool, but this dust extractor was far from being one of our favorites. That said, it’s got some redeeming qualities, such as the self-cleaning filter that gets cleaned every 30 seconds. Two HEPA filters are also included, but that can’t make up for this machine’s other shortcomings.
The first thing we noticed when it arrived was how heavy it is. At 27 pounds and awkwardly shaped, this isn’t a fun device to carry down a narrow hallway. We were also disappointed by the short power cord that’s just eight feet in length. This is mitigated somewhat by the 15-foot air hose, but that’s still not as much reach as we’d prefer.
This vacuum’s real downfall though was its suction, or lack thereof. To be fair, the suction isn’t awful per se, but it is when you factor in the cost of this device. We got stronger suction from machines that cost far less.
8. Porter-Cable Wet/Dry Vacuum
This Porter-Cable wet/dry vacuum looked great on paper, so we were pretty surprised at its shoddy performance, especially since we usually like Porter-Cable tools. In defense of this vacuum, it is priced affordably, but that’s no excuse for all the flaws.
With five-horsepower, this vacuum has pretty decent suction. Not nearly as strong as we expected, but decent nonetheless. However, its reach leaves a lot to be desired. Between the power cord and air hose together, you only get 16 feet of reach.
There’s a dust bag included with this vacuum, which we thought was great until we used it. Unfortunately, it’s not durable and it burst at the seams the second time we used it.
But none of that was the dealbreaker. We noticed when the vacuum arrived that several pieces were missing. A call to customer service left us disappointed when we received no support. After some searching, we discovered that we’re far from the first to have this experience.
The reality is, any vacuum will suck up drywall dust. But if you use the wrong vacuum, you might just end up clogging it or making more mess than you had to start with. The question is; how do you know which shop vac is right?
We recommend taking a look at the following features and functions. These are the ones we think are most important for a shop vac for drywall dust. You might prioritize them differently, but these will be the important traits to consider when making your decision.
Suction and Power
Two of the most important traits for any vacuum are power and suction, and they go hand in hand. Power is measured in horsepower. Some of the most powerful vacuums we tested for this list had upwards of six-horsepower while the weaker ones had about half that.
But horsepower isn’t the whole story when we’re discussing suction. The other consideration is airflow; how much air can the vacuum displace?
Airflow is measured in cubic feet per minute, or CFM. Not all vacuums list their CFM rating, but when they do, it can be an easy way to compare them.
It’s unlikely that you’ll be performing drywall work in the same place over and over. This means that your vacuum must be portable so you can take it along with you wherever the work needs to be done.
There are two main factors to consider when it comes to portability; weight and size.
When discussing shop vac sizes, you’re generally talking about the tank. Tanks can range in size from just a couple gallons to 20 gallons or more. Obviously, a vacuum with a 20-gallon tank will be a lot bigger than one with a two-gallon tank.
The flipside to this is, of course, that you can fit more stuff in a larger vacuum, meaning you don’t need to empty it as often. That said, drywall dust doesn’t take up too much space, so you don’t need more than a few gallons to collect it.
It should go without saying that a heavier vacuum will be more difficult to carry around than a lighter one. Some of the shop vacs we tested weighed around 14 pounds while others weighed as much as 26 pounds.
Really, you need to consider weight and size together. If a vacuum has a small tank but is very heavy, it will be easier to move than a larger vacuum of the same weight. So, before making a decision, determine how big of a tank you need and how heavy of a vacuum you can deal with.
The hose is one of the most important parts of a vacuum, though it’s often overlooked. But a hose can make or break a vacuum, so it’s worth looking at what makes a hose better or worse.
The first factor to consider is the length of the hose. This is going to be how much reach you get from the vacuum. If you add the length of the power cord to this number, you’ll figure out the total reach of your vacuum.
Some vacuums have short hoses of just six or eight feet, while others were as long as 15 feet, providing a lot more freedom since you’re not as closely tied to the vacuum.
The diameter of your vacuum’s hose will have even more of an effect on overall performance than its reach. Thinner hoses can often help create more suction, but they also clog much easier. Many vacuums use tiny 1.25-inch diameter hoses that can be easily clogged by attempting to vacuum too much at once.
It’s pretty common to give a tug on your vacuum’s hose in an attempt to move it a little closer when you need a bit extra reach. For years, this would often cause the hose to detach from the vacuum. But today, many vacuums feature locking mechanisms that will keep the hose attached, even if it’s tugged on. This is a feature we always look for in a shop vac.
We’ve discussed quite a few traits that can help you decide between two vacuums that might appear similar at first glance, but honestly, we’ve only touched the surface. There are tons of features, functions, and extras that can all contribute to making a particular vacuum the perfect fit for you and your needs. Here are some of our favorites:
There is no shortage of options when it comes to shop vacs. But finding the right one for drywall dust is a special matter. To save you the headaches associated with using the wrong vacuum to clean up drywall dust, we wrote detailed reviews comparing eight of the best shop vacs for drywall dust.
After all was said and done, our number one pick was the CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17595 Wet/Dry Vac. It’s got a massive 16-gallon tank and a powerful 6.5-horsepower motor that provides incredible suction through any of the included accessories.
If you need a reliable tool that’s more budget-friendly, we recommend the Stanley 5-Gallon Wet Dry Vacuum. This affordably priced vacuum includes a reusable dry filter with a dust bag that’s perfect for sucking up drywall dust. And the four-horsepower motor provides ample suction for every situation.
For professionals who need peak performance at any price, the best choice is the Bosch VAC090AH 9-Gallon Dust Extractor. This is an impressive device that moves 150 CFM of air through a HEPA filter that gets cleaned automatically every 15 seconds to maintain maximum suction.
Here are some of our other popular shop-vac reviews:
- Top 5 mini shop vacs – Which is the winner?
- Which HEPA wet/dry vac is our favorite?
- Which cordless model is our all-time favorite?
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- The 8 Best Shop Vacs for Drywall Dust – Reviews 2021
- Buyer’s Guide