How To Sand Furniture Before Painting

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So, you’ve decided to tackle that furniture makeover project you’ve been putting off? Or maybe you’ve painted quite a few pieces, but you want to try a new color or painting technique? But, before you start painting, there’s one crucial step that you should consider not skipping and that is sanding. Sanding may seem like a tedious and time-consuming task, but trust me, it’s worth it. So, in this blog post we’ll review the basics of how to sand furniture before painting. More particularly, how to sand furniture before using chalk style paints or DIY paints, not latex.

If you are totally new to painting furniture and are dying to learn some basics, you can check out: Chalk Mineral Paint Basics for more tips for getting started.

How To Sand Furniture Before Painting

In this post, we’ll dive into the important topic of sanding before painting furniture . We’ll talk about how it is a beneficial step, even with chalk style paints. And we’ll go over some fun tips for sanding. But also you may want to check out these other posts on how to prepare your furniture for paint application:

Why Sand Furniture Before Painting?

Sanding serves two main purposes when prepping furniture for painting with chalk mineral paints.

  • First it removes an existing finish or rough spots and debris that would create an uneven surface.
  • Second, it creates a rough, grippy surface for the paint to adhere.

For example, If you piece has a glossy slick finish, sanding will help remove the shine and create a better surface for the paint to stick.

Similarly, if you’re painting over furniture with peeling or chipping paint, sanding will smooth out any imperfections and give you a fresh canvas to work on.

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Safety First – Protect Yourself

It’s always important to keep safety in mind in whatever project your working with. And sanding is no different!

  • Protect your eyes with safety glasses, especially when using an electric sander
  • Protect your lungs from wood and varnish dust. And always when possible sand outdoors
  • Outdoors or indoors use a respirator or dust mask when sanding
  • And consider connecting your electric sander to a shop vacuum to help reduce dust into the air

How to Sand Furniture Before Painting

How you sand furniture before painting depends on your goal, your objective. Consider the following questions:

  • Do want to completely remove an old finish to take the piece down to bare wood?
  • Do you want to smooth out rough spots?
  • Are you trying to remove chipping, peeling paint?
  • Or do you just want to rough up a shiny surface for paint to adhere?

So, once you answer those questions then you’ll know how to much to sand.

What Grit To Sand Furniture Before Painting

Sanding Pads and Sanding Paper Grits come in Coarse (40-60 grit), Medium(80-150), Fine (180-220) and Extra Fine (300 or above). The higher the number the finer the grit.

Basically, most of your needs can be met with medium and fine grit sandpapers and pads on hand. But here are a few tips:

  • Use a medium grit, like 150, if you want to remove an old finish or need to remove some chipping or peeling paint.
  • 180 is perfect if you have a lighter finish you want to “rough up”.
  • 220 is fine grit and great for smoothing a surface. Use it last. So, if you start with 150 then work up from there; next 180 grit, then lastly 220 grit. This will make your project buttery smooth and ready for painting.
  • To sand between coats of primer and paint or between coats of paint use 220 or above – finer grits
  • For buffing, shining the final finish use an extra fine, like 320 or 400. I rarely do this step.

Supplies For Sanding Furniture

You can sand by hand using sandpaper sheets or sanding pads or you can use an electric sander on which you attach a sanding pad. Here are good options for supplies:

Consider these electric sanders:

What Is A Scuff Sanding?

Many chalk mineral style paints, including one of my favorites – Silk Paint by Dixie Belle – suggests a “scuff sanding” before applying the paint.

So, you may ask – “What Is Scuff Sanding?”

Scuff sanding means to just rough up the surface, just a bit, to allow the paint to adhere. Typically this is done with a fine grit, like 220 grit.

A light scuff sanding will lift the surface just enough. This makes for a great canvas for you paint. And, it allow the paint to adhere excellently.

When to Stop Sanding – When Have You Sanded Enough?

Knowing when to stop sanding is really important. You want to achieve a smooth and rough surface, but not so much that you end up damaging the piece itself.

It really depends on whether or not you were trying to completely remove a finish or just scuff sand? I suggest go on the lighter side if unsure. Better not to chance damaging a surface.

Don’t worry if there are still some glossy spots or small imperfections – the paint will cover them up.

Most importantly, don’t get carried away. Sanding, especially a scuff sanding, should be a pretty quick process.

Alternatives To Sanding Furniture

There may be times where you don’t want to sand. You may choose instead to consider stripping your furniture instead.

You can choose a stripper like Citristrip Orange Paint Stripper. Citristrip can be messy, but It’s certainly an option for removing a stubborn finish without sanding.

Read more about Citristrip here:

There are other strippers on the market that get great reviews. But I can’t speak to those because I haven’t yet tried them.

When To Use A Bonding Primer

Also some furniture pieces may not really sand well, such as thin fragile veneers or slick laminates. Another option to sanding or stripping is to apply a bonding primer. This works great for slick surfaces such as laminates, very glossy thin veneers, plastic, glass and more.

A bonding primer is a primer that you apply prior to applying paint. It bonds to the surface and gives the paint something to stick to. Examples are Dixie Belle Slick Stick, Zinsser Bullseye 123 Primer, and Zinsser BIN Shellac Based Primer.

For more information on primers in general read: Primer For Painted Furniture and I use a bonding primer in this makeover: Laminate Hutch Makeover

Do You Need To Sand Furniture Before Using Chalk Paints?

Chalk mineral paints are known for their excellent adhesion and coverage. Most even claim to adhere to previously painted or slick surfaces. However, they will still go on better with a little preparation. This will ensure the best outcome.

Many say that chalk paints are “no prep paints.” But whether or not you sand before painting with chalk mineral paints depends on several variables:

  • The condition of the piece to be painted
  • Brand/type of paint you are using and
  • The desired finished look

For example if you have a slick surface on your original piece of furniture, scuff sanding is helpful to get a great adhesion. And if you want a very sleek modern finish, you should sand first just to make sure your base is very smooth.

However, if you are going for a chippy, distressed style then you could get away without sanding most likely.

Tips for Sanding Furniture Before Painting With Chalk Paints

  1. Start with your coarsest grit sandpaper and work up to the finer grit to leave your surface buttery smooth
  2. Use a sanding block or even an electric sander for larger pieces of furniture to save time and effort.
  3. Sand in the direction of the wood grain for best results.
  4. Be thorough but gentle when sanding – you don’t want to damage the piece or create deep scratches that will show through the paint.
  5. After sanding, wipe down the surface with a damp cloth to remove any dust or debris. Then let it dry completely.
  6. Don’t forget to sand the edges and corners of your piece for a smooth, professional-looking finish.
  7. Use a tack cloth to remove any specs of sanding dust, pet hair or other small invisible debris before applying the paint. Tack cloths are a fabulous product to keep on hand when painting furniture.

Benefits of Sanding Before Painting

  • Ensures better adherence and longer-lasting results.
  • Smooths out imperfections and creates a clean canvas for your paint.
  • Removes any previous finishes or coatings that may interfere with the new paint.
  • creates a smooth surface free of bumps or rough patches.

Summary – Sanding Furniture Before Painting

Truthfully, I don’t always sand before I paint. But I’ll say that most often I do at a minimum a scuff sanding. Whether or not you choose to sand furniture before painting with chalk mineral paints depends on several factors, including your desired finish. But sanding is a great way to get a beautiful long-lasting finish.

Overall, sanding is an important step in the furniture makeover process, even with chalk mineral paints. It improves the final result and ensures the longevity of your painted furniture.

So don’t skip this crucial step and take your time to properly sand your piece before painting for a beautiful and long-lasting furniture makeover.

How To Sand Furniture Before Painting

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