Should You Sand Between Coats of Paint?

Randy Charles
Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Hi, I’m Randy Charles, the creator and chief editor of this site Paintcentric. I’m a businessman now by profession, but I used to work as...Read more

Sanding is a way of smoothening a surface by rubbing it with something rough, especially sandpaper. Sandpaper is a special kind of sheet with different degrees of rough surfaces for creating smoothness on surfaces. There are times you may need to remove some unwanted surface imperfections when painting. The removal of such imperfection to get a smooth surface is what is called sanding in painting.

Since some imperfections like tangible particles show up on painting surfaces and rollers, sanding is necessary for their removal. Sanding also gives the wall a smooth look when the painting project is complete. This makes the wall to be more mirror-like if you are using a higher sheen finish like a full gloss.

Should you sand between coats of paint? Sanding in between coats of paint on any surface removes any imperfection from the surface and roller while painting. It sounds good that the application of sanding can make our work look better. However, when to apply this all-important sanding is important. Keep reading to find more detail below.

Should You Sand Between Coats of Paint?

Sanding is one way that helps you correct some errors for a better look. If you discover that you have made some errors during your painting, sanding can help you fix it. It is not a necessary painting routine to sand between coats when painting or even sound at all.

Should You Sand Between Coats of Paint

However, you should know that sanding is like a pencil eraser that prepares the area where the mistake is made in a sheet for re-writing. So, should you sand between coats of paint? Sanding goes beyond error correction in painting. Sanding between coats of paint also helps a painter to achieve excellent smoothness. So, it’s recommended to sand between coats of paint.

Sanding between coats of paint happens when you sand after a particular layer or coat before the final coat. But whether you should sand between coats of paint when painting depends on some strong factors.

Some of such factors are enumerated below:

Degree of Imperfection

The degree of imperfection on the surface is what should determine whether you should sand or not. The error you want to correct by sanding should be glaring. However, it should also be something that can jeopardize the expected smoothness of the surface when the job is done. In this case, it is recommended to sand between the coats (before the final coat).

Maximum Smoothness

The essence of sanding is to increase the smoothness of the final coat finish in a painting project. It gives the best of shine to higher sheen paints for a professional look. When you sand between coats of paint, the finished work will be clear of impurities that have been imparted by roller/brush. Also, when you sand a coat of paint, the second and future coats will naturally flow more evenly. In the end, the result is an excellent smooth finish.

Roller Build Up Correction

If the result of your hard efforts when painting is roughness on the surface, there is roller build-up. This is what occurs when you have too much paint on your roller. The roller becomes thicker when you have too much paint on it. In this case, you may need sand between coat pain and take care of the roller deficiency.

Types of paint

Types of paint are another factor that can determine whether you should sand at all or sand between coat paint. You need to sand the surface of your project is to latex-based paint on oil-based paint. It is difficult for Oil-based paint that is very smooth on the face to accept latex paint in terms of adhesiveness.

Types of paint

You need to check to determine whether you’re dealing with oil-based paint or not. To perform the check, you start by washing a small section of the wall with warm water and detergent. The next thing to do is to soak a cotton ball in alcohol and scrub the wall. If the paint comes off with the cotton ball, then it’s a latex-based paint. In this case, you don’t have to sand it.

What Does Sanding Between Coats Do?

Sanding helps to eradicate imperfection from surfaces. Also, it contributes to the painting job by ensuring adhesion. When applying several coats in a painting project, it becomes necessary to sand between coats in other to achieve proper adhesion.

So, sanding is one important activity that enables paint firm adhesion to surfaces. For example, oil and water-based finishes require a very thorough sanding to achieve good adhesion. Any painting work that does not conclude with proper adhesion or bond is not done professionally.

What Does Sanding Between Coats Do

Should I Sand Latex Paint between Coats

Sanding Latex Paint between coats can help you achieve excellent smoothness, which is one of the aims of sanding. You can sand Latex Paint between coats, but you need some precautionary measures to do it right. See details below:

Allow the paint to dry.

As you may already know, applying any sanding tool on freshly painted work is no sanding.  You must allow the paint to dry completely before you sand. Using wet or dry sandpaper with a grit of 180-220 is just cool if you want to get rid of brush strokes in latex.

Wet or dry sandpaper can do the job of sanding Latex Paint to remove dust and other contaminants from the paint. But, you must apply the right amount of sandpaper if your aim is to completely sand down the roughness.

Also, know that minor sanding cannot remove messy paint when sanding with Latex Paint. It is only thorough sanding with the appropriate sandpaper grades that can enable you to achieve it.


Timing is very important when thinking of sanding between coats with Latex Paint. If the paint you want to sand is not properly coated, you will not achieve the best result. So, knowing how soon to apply the second coat of latex paint is important. The look and feel that your wall is dried is not enough. You must wait until the paint has had enough time to cure fully before applying the second coat. The recommendation is that your second coat can come two to four hours after the first coat.

Safety Precaution

Safety precautionary measure is necessary when you are planning to sand between coats with Latex Paint. Latex paints are water-based, and it contain solvents and other harmful chemicals. Crystalline silica is another component that is considered a health hazard when sanding latex paint. Crystalline silica can affect your lungs when inhaled, and it can develop into cancer if you are exposed to it for a long time.

It is, therefore, very important to use the right safety kit to protect your inhalation when sanding Latex Paint. It is recommended that you use an air respirator and not just a dust face mask. Definitely, the normal dust face mask won’t filter out crystalline silica.

One more thing to remember is that older walls painted with latex paint contain lead and mercury, which are highly toxic. So, your need to kit yourself well, if you must sand such walls.

How Long Should Paint Dry Before Sanding?

The recommendation is two days but may vary depending on the paint. Many factors affect how long to wait for the paint to dry before sanding. Temperature and humidity are some of the factors to consider. Also, darker colors take a longer time to dry because of the greater concentration of slow-drying pigments. Whichever way you look at it, the paint should dry properly to get the best result from sanding.

How Long Should Paint Dry Before Sanding

The bottom line is that rushing into sanding without checking the dryness of the paint may spoil the work. This is why it is highly recommended to allow the paint to dry properly before sanding. To help the drying process to speed up, you should avoid coldness in the room. Turning on Fans and allowing fresh air from outside by opening the room windows can help to speed up the dryness.

What Grade Of Sandpaper Can I Use Between Coats Of Paint?

The recommendation of sandpaper when it comes to sanding walls between coats of paint is100-150-grit. This gauge is within the medium range, and it’s the most popular amongst painters who sand latex paint between costs. You can do difficult jobs by applying more pressure with this gauge.

It is very important that you use the right sandpaper grit for your sanding. Sandpaper grits come in grades, and the grades are categorized by the coarseness of the surface. It’s usually graded by available gauge numbers. Lower numbers connote larger, coarser, or grits.

Lower-number grit, which is coarser, is best for removing wood and other materials faster with less effort than finer sandpaper. Fine sandpaper is recommended to remove a small amount of material, and it gives the best results in smoothing the surface.

Does Sandpaper Remove Paint?

Sandpaper helps to remove old existing paint before painting to allow for proper adhesion. But you should choose the right type of sandpaper to use for your paint removal. The kind of sandpaper to use for paint removal will depend on the amount of paint you have to tackle. The type of surface to work on is another thing.

In sandpaper grading, P40 to P80 is classified as coarse. This type of sandpaper is used to take off thick layers of paint and is ideal if used with a power sander. Gauges between P40 and P80 will serve you well if your work involves removing multiple thick coats of finish.

You have to be careful when using coarse grit sandpaper as it can damage the surface and create large marks on the surface. You may decide to use sander. If that is the case, then you must also be careful to follow the product usage instructions. You must not forget to wear protective gear before you begin.

Final Verdict

Should you sand between coats of paint? Sanding between coats of paint is very necessary because it allows for error correction and a smoother surface. It is important to consider factors like types of paint, dryness requirements, and safety precautionary measures when thinking about sanding.

The professional approach to sanding between coats of paint is knowing when to and how to do your sanding.

Randy Charles
Randy CharlesProfessional Painter

Hi, I’m Randy Charles, the creator and chief editor of this site Paintcentric. I’m a businessman now by profession, but I used to work as a painter earlier in my professional career. There is simply nothing about painting that I didn’t do as a painter. From painting a fridge to a multi-storied building, I left nothing. I retired from my painting job in the mid of 2018 due to back arthritis problems.

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