Person hand sanding drywall to prep for painting

Should I Sand Between Coats of Paint?

Is that living room looking a little dated? Maybe your bathroom is getting a little dingy. There are many reasons why interior rooms need to be painted.  

Working with interior paint can be trickier than some other types of painting, so if this is your first DIY paint project, there are a few things you should know before you get started. One big question that can determine how well your paint job turns out is; is sanding between coats of paint necessary? Several factors will determine if sanding between coats of paint is necessary. Here is some information to help you sort it all out.  

Why You Would Sand While Painting 

Sanding has many purposes. It can often be the difference between a good paint job and one that leaves a lot to be desired. If the surface has a lot of loose or peeling paint, sanding should remove most, if not all, of the old paint, which will help the paint adhere better to the surface. Latex paint typically doesn’t adhere well to a slick or smooth surface that was already painted with oil-based paint. When painting metal or glossy surfaces, sanding helps scuff up the surface, which provides for better adhesion.  

Related Topic: 6 Things You Should Before Painting Metal 

When You Should Sand Between Coats of Paint 

Now that we’ve talked about the importance of sanding, let’s talk about the big question: Should you sand between coats of paint? Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. You’ll have to weigh some factors before deciding if sanding between coats is necessary. Here are some questions that can help you decide: 

Where am I painting?  

  • The main reason people sand between coats of paint is to achieve a perfect, silky smooth layer of paint. For most drywall interior painting projects, sanding is not necessary. Generally, small imperfections, fuzzies from the roller, or debris in the paint are hard to notice on walls that are painted with satin or flat paints finishes.  

However, if you’re using high gloss paint, painting kitchen cabinets, or painting a wall that is very well-lit and visible, you might want to sand it between coats of paint to achieve a perfectly smooth finish. Don’t forget to sand the primer too! 

What paint am I using? 

  • By using cheaper paints, you’ll increase your chances of bubbles, drips, brush marks, and roller imperfections. These paints don’t have the additives that help with a smooth finish like premium paints do. If you are using such a paint, sanding between coats might be necessary if the paint doesn’t “lay flat” or leaves brush marks. However, trying to remove brush marks by sanding will remove all of the paint, so be careful not to over do it. 

The material you’re painting will also determine if sanding between coats is necessary. As a general rule, if the surface you just painted doesn’t feel or look smooth, sand it!  

How long can this project take? 

  • To sand properly, your coats of paint should dry a minimum of 24 hours, potentially extending your project out for a few days. This is a good time to weigh speed and quality, because the more quality you require, the longer your project will take. When sanding between coats of latex paint, the paint should be dry to the touch. 

Related TopicCan You Paint Cabinets Without Sanding? 

How To Sand Between Paint Coats 

Sanding between coats of paint could entail sanding the entire wall if the surface is smooth versus textured, or just a few spots where you notice imperfections. Sand the entire wall if you demand perfection. A drywall sanding pole is the perfect tool for this job. Otherwise, look for specific trouble spots (paint bubbles, chips, etc.) and only target those areas. This will help keep your project moving forward without sacrificing quality. 

Pro tip: Sanding between coats of paint isn’t always necessary, but is highly recommended when applying polyurethane over stain or raw wood. 

Getting to Work 

Whether you’re an experienced or novice painter, sanding between coats of paint depends on the project and your personal preference. The good news is, you won’t hurt anything if you decide to sand between each coat of paint. It may take a little longer and requires some patience and attention to detail, but the results are usually worth the extra time and effort.  

If you would rather save time and just enjoy your freshly painted interior, call your local painting pros at Five Star Painting. We have the experience and expertise to help you transform one room, or your entire house, inside and out. Give us a call at, (888) 261-3633 or request a free estimate online today!