Should You Sand Between Coats of Paint?

Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years...Read more

Sanding is 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.

Sometimes you may need to remove some unwanted surface imperfections when painting. The removal of such imperfection to get a smooth surface is called sanding in painting.

Since some imperfections, like tangible particles, appear on painting surfaces and rollers, sanding is necessary for their removal.

Sanding also gives the wall a smooth look when the complete painting project. This makes the wall more mirror-like if you use a higher sheen finish, like a full gloss.

Sanding 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.

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.

Sanding between coats of paint also helps a painter to achieve excellent smoothness. So, its 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 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 shine to higher sheen paints for a professional look.

When you sand between coats of paint, the finished work will clear the impurities imparted by the 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 the painting is rough 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 between the coat of paint. You need to sand the surface of your project with 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
Types of paint

You need to check to determine whether youre dealing with oil-based paint or not. To perform the check, you start by washing a small wall section 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, its latex-based paint. In this case, you dont have to sand it.

What Does Sanding Between Coats Do?

Sanding helps to eradicate imperfections 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.

Sanding Between Coats
Sanding Between Coats

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 preventive 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 cool if you want to eliminate 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 you aim to sand down the roughness completely.

Also, know that minor sanding cannot remove messy paint when sanding with Latex Paint. Only thorough sanding with the appropriate sandpaper grades 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 they 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 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. You should use an air respirator and not just a dust face mask. The normal dust face mask wont 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 Should Long Paint Dry Before Sanding?

The recommendation is two days, but it 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 longer 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.

Paint Dry

The bottom line is that rushing into sanding without checking the dryness of the paint may spoil the work. This is why allowing the paint to dry properly before sanding is highly recommended.

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 is the most popular among painters who sand latex paint between costs. You can do difficult jobs by applying more pressure with this gauge.

You must use the right sandpaper grit for your sanding. Sandpaper grits come in grades, which are categorized by the coarseness of the surface.

Available gauge numbers usually grade it. 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, giving the best results in smoothing the surface.

Does Sandpaper Remove Paint?

Sandpaper helps remove old paint before painting to allow for proper adhesion. But you should choose the right sandpaper to use for your paint removal.

The kind of sandpaper to use for paint removal depends on how much 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 sandpaper takes 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 a 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 necessary because it allows for error correction and a smoother surface.

When considering sanding, it is important to consider factors like types of paint, dryness requirements, and preventive safety measures.

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

Randy CharlesProfessional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years of experience in the painting industry, Randy has become an expert in the field and is passionate about helping others learn more about painting. He has written numerous articles on the subject and is committed to providing accurate and up-to-date information to his readers.

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