8 Best Shop Vacs for Drywall Dust 2024 – 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 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 shop vacs and come right out of the blower, making a cloud of white dust.
We’ve dealt with this problem too often, so we decided to find the ultimate shop vac for drywall dust. After our testing, the following eight shop vacs effectively removed the fine dust. But as you’ll see from our reviews, other traits make some of them preferable over others. Let’s take a look at the shop vacs and see how they compare.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2024
|CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17595 Wet/Dry Vac
|Stanley SL18115 Wet Dry Vacuum
|Bosch VAC090AH Dust Extractor
|Vacmaster VQ607SFD Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum
|Shop-Vac 9650610 Wet/Dry Vacuum
The 8 Best Shop Vacs for Drywall Dust
1. CRAFTSMAN Wet/Dry Vac – Best Overall
With a stout 6.5 peak horsepower, the CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17595 Wet/Dry Vac impressed us with its suction. No drywall dust will escape from this model. If you want to dust yourself off outside, the blower port will turn all that power on you and blow the drywall dust from your hair in seconds.
When you need to vacuum something wet, the extra-large bucket features an oversized drain, making it easy and quick to evacuate any liquids. When we say extra-large, we mean it. The vacuum has a massive 16-gallon tank, which can hold quite a lot of dust and debris.
Of course, the size is accompanied by a minor dilemma: increased weight. At 26 pounds, it is a pretty hefty vacuum. Still, it makes up for it with its impressive power and a mix of valuable accessories that expand its functionality, which makes it our pick for the best overall drywall dust vacuum.
2. Stanley SL18115 Wet Dry Vacuum – Best Value
Some of the shop vacs can get pretty pricey. A high-end model might be a worthwhile investment if you’re a drywall professional, but if you only need to clear drywall dust occasionally, you might be balking at the price that some of these machines go for. If that’s you, you might want to 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 a 4-horsepower motor, this vacuum isn’t the most powerful, but it has plenty of suction for most situations. We never had a problem getting it to suck up drywall dust, which is the real litmus test. However, the small hose is a weak point. Its diameter is just 1.25 inches, which is easily clogged if you attempt to suck up a whole pile of dust at once.
The dust bag and reusable dry filter aid in removing fine dust. Considering the affordable price this vacuum goes for, we think this helps make it a great deal. When you add in the 1-year warranty, 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, it’s a dust extractor, not just a vacuum, so it’s built specifically for removing fine dust particles like drywall dust.
The HEPA filter captures 99.97% of all particles at least 0.3 microns in size. As you can imagine, it fills 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 serious suction to the tune of 150 cubic feet per minute. Since you don’t always need all that suction, a Power Broker dial allows you to match the suction to your job. Ultimately, it’s the most expensive solution for drywall dust, but it’s arguably the most impressive.
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4. Vacmaster Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum
We liked the Vacmaster Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum, but it didn’t impress us enough to crack the top three. Still, it has great features, like the locking hose that won’t detach when you pull it a little. At 16 pounds, the vacuum is portable and maneuverable, making it easier to move around than other options we tested. It also has built-in accessory storage, so you don’t lose the attachments; they’re always there when needed.
This vacuum has decent suction, but with just 3 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 it’s prone to rust! Luckily, it’s warrantied for 2 years, so it should be replaced without issue if anything happens within that time frame.
5. Shop-Vac Wet/Dry Vacuum
At a meager 6 pounds, this wet/dry shop vac is one of the most portable we’ve seen. It has a 3-horsepower motor, so we expected it to have decent suction, though the suction is pretty lackluster. Then we noticed that Shop-Vac admits 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 less than 3 HP.
The hose is 8 feet long and locks into the vacuum so it won’t fall out whenever 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 increase this vacuum’s functionality. It’s a decent vacuum, but not one 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. However, 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, the Vacmaster Pro 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 repeatedly. When that happens, it takes time to run the vacuum again, so it 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, and it kept dropping on the floor. That’s a minor frustration, but we expected much better with a vacuum this pricey.
7. DEWALT Dust Extractor
We’re rarely disappointed by a DEWALT tool, but this dust extractor was far from being one of our favorites. However, it has 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 was. At 27 pounds with an awkward shape, it isn’t a fun device to carry down a narrow hallway. We were also disappointed by the short power cord, which is only 8 feet long. 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 is 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 Dewalt’s vac. 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 5 horsepower, the Porter-Cable vac has decent suction. However, its reach leaves a lot to be desired. Between the power cord and air hose together, you only get 16 feet.
There’s a dust bag included with this vacuum, which we thought was great until we used it. Unfortunately, it’s not durable and burst at the seams the second time we used it. We also 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 we’re far from the first to have this experience.
Buyer’s Guide – Choosing the Best Shop Vacs for Drywall Dust
The reality is any vacuum will suck up drywall dust. But if you use the wrong vacuum, you might just clog it or make more mess than you had to start with. The question is, how do you know which shop vac is ideal for your home?
We recommend taking a look at the following features and functions. You might prioritize them differently, but they are vital factors to consider.
Suction and Power
Two of the most important specifications of any vacuum are power and suction, which go hand in hand. Power is measured in horsepower. Some of the most powerful vacuums we tested for this list had upwards of 6 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 repeatedly. Therefore, your vacuum must be portable so you can take it with you wherever the work needs to be done. There are two factors to consider regarding portability: weight and size.
When discussing shop vac sizes, you’re generally talking about the tank. Tanks can range from just a couple of 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 flip side is that you can fit more debris in a larger vacuum and don’t need to empty it as often. However, 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 challenging to carry around than a lighter one. Some shop vacs we tested weighed around 14 pounds, while others weighed as much as 26 pounds.
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 deciding, determine how big of a tank you need and how heavy a vacuum you can handle.
The hose is one of the most critical 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 it better or worse.
The first factor to consider is the length of the hose. If you add the power cord length to this number, you’ll figure out the total reach of your vacuum. Some vacuums have short hoses of just 6 or 8 feet, while others are as long as 15 feet.
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.
It’s pretty common to give a tug on your vacuum’s hose to move it closer when you need extra reach. For years, this would often cause the hose to detach from the vacuum. But today, many vacuums feature locking mechanisms that 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 several characteristics that can help you decide between two vacuums that might appear similar at first glance, but we’ve only touched the surface. Many features, functions, and extras can all contribute to making a vacuum the perfect fit for you and your needs. Here are some of our favorites:
There is no shortage of options for shop vacs, but finding the right one for drywall dust is a special matter. We wrote detailed reviews comparing eight of the best shop vacs for drywall dust to save you the headaches associated with using the wrong vacuum to clean up drywall dust.
Our number one pick was the CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17595 Wet/Dry Vac. It has a massive 16-gallon tank and a powerful 6.5-horsepower motor that provides incredible suction.
If you need a reliable tool that’s more budget-friendly, we recommend the Stanley 5-Gallon Wet Dry Vacuum. This affordable vacuum includes a reusable dry filter with a dust bag perfect for sucking up drywall dust, and the 4-HP 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. It 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.
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