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Can You Sand Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint is a popular medium among artists, prized for its versatility, quick drying time, and ability to produce vivid colors. However, even the most skilled artists may encounter issues with their acrylic paintings, like unwanted textures, streaks, or physical imperfections. This is where sanding comes into play.

But can you sand an acrylic painting? The short answer is yes, you can sand acrylic paint. Sanding allows artists to create a clean and smooth surface on their painting, remove unwanted textures or physical imperfections, and even revive dried acrylic paint.

To sand acrylic paint, you will need to use sandpaper of varying grits, ranging from coarse to fine, depending on the level of roughness on the painting surface. Light pressure and a gentle hand are necessary to avoid damaging the paint surface. Once the sanding is complete, a soft cloth can remove any paint dust.

acrylic paints

It is important to note that sanding may alter the paint texture and gloss level. Therefore, artists may need to apply a new layer of paint or a high gloss varnish to achieve the desired finish. In our guide, you can learn more about how to paint, sand acrylic, and finish your work. By the end, you can see how to be careful when sanding block acrylic painting surfaces, yet the patient can pay off. (Read Can You Paint A Kayak)

Which Surfaces Are Appropriate For Sanding?

With sanding, not all surfaces are created equal. While some may be appropriate for sanding, others may be too delicate and require a more gentle approach. Generally, hard and durable surfaces are the best candidates for sanding. These include wood, metal, and plastic.

However, with acrylic paint, the answer is not as straightforward. It is possible to sand acrylic paint using ultra fine-grit or fine-grit sandpaper. However, caution must be taken as excessive sanding can damage the paint layer and cause it to peel or flake off.

Can You Sand Acrylic Paint on Wood?

Acrylic paint is a versatile and popular medium used on many surfaces, including wood. However, sanding acrylic paint on wood can be a tricky process. If you want to sand acrylic paint on wood, do it carefully to avoid damaging the surface or removing too much paint.

Firstly, before sanding acrylic paint on wood, you must wait until it has completely dried. Sanding wet or tacky paint will only lead to smearing and uneven finishes. Once dry, use a high-grit sandpaper-like 220 grit or higher for best results. Low-grit sandpaper may remove too much of the layer and damage your work.

Secondly, if you’re dealing with thick layers of acrylic paint on your wooden surface, consider using an electric sander instead of manual hand-sanding with paper sheets.

Can You Sand Acrylic Paint on Canvas?

When sanding acrylic paint on canvas, the answer is yes, it is possible. However, there are a few things to remember before you start. Firstly, ensure that the paint has completely dried before sanding. Otherwise, you could end up smudging or ruining the paint.

Secondly, use rubbing alcohol and a cotton swab to clean the area where you plan to sand. This will help remove any dirt or debris that may scratch the surface of your painting. (Learn How Long Spray Paint Dry)

Do You Need to Sand Between Coats of Acrylic Paint?

Sanding between coats of acrylic paint may not always be necessary, but it can help achieve a smoother and more even finish. If you are working on a project that requires multiple layers of acrylic paint, sanding between each layer can make the next coat of paint adhere better to the surface. It also helps gently smooth out any imperfections or bumps that may have occurred during the application process.

However, it’s important to remember that sanding should be done lightly and carefully. Acrylic paint forms a durable coating to resist abrasions and scratches, but too much sanding could damage its integrity. It’s best to use fine-grit sandpaper and apply minimal pressure to smooth rough spots between coats.

What Type Of Sandpaper To Use For Sanding Acrylic Paint


When sanding acrylic paint, the type of sandpaper you use is crucial. The wrong grit can ruin the texture and finish of your painting. Before getting into the type of sandpaper, it’s important to note you can indeed sand off acrylic gesso paint.

However, if you are working on a surface with acrylic gesso prime, it’s best to avoid sanding as much as possible because it can damage the thin paint-like substance. In choosing the correct grit for sanding acrylic paint, start with a finer grit, like 220 or 320, to avoid creating scratches on your painting.

Finer grits are also helpful in smoothing out bumps and ridges without removing too much paint from the surface. If you need more aggressive sanding, opt for coarser grits like 120 or 150 but be cautious not to overdo it.

How to Sand Acrylic Paint

When it comes to sanding acrylic paint, timing is everything. You can only start sanding once the acrylic paint is fully dry, which usually takes two hours. Attempting to sand your acrylic painting with wet or tacky paint can result in a messy and unsatisfactory finish.

What you need:

  • Sandpaper
  • Acrylic paint
  • Water
  • Damn cloth
  • Sponge

Whether oil or acrylic paint, sanding is not typically necessary for painting. However, there are certain situations where sanding may be required. For instance, if you have applied multiple layers of paint and notice blotchy textures or uneven surfaces, light sanding can help smooth the surface.

How to sand acrylic paint – a step-by-step process

To sand acrylic paint on a metal surface, you will need some essential tools like sandpaper, a block to hold the sandpaper, a water source, and soap. The first step is cleaning the surface with soap and water to remove dust and dirt, or debris. Once cleaned, use 220-grit sandpaper and start rubbing it gently in circular motions over the surface.

As you sand the acrylic paint on the metal surface, check for smoothness by wiping it with a damp cloth. If rough patches or bumps remain after using 220-grit paper, switch to 320-grit paper for more refinement. Continue this process until you achieve an even and smooth finish on your painted metal. (Read Will Nail Polish Remover Remove Car Paint)

Step 1: Wet the surface of the paint with a sponge.

If you are looking to sand dry acrylic paint, it is important to wet the paint’s surface with a sponge first. This will help to loosen the previous coat of paint and make it easier to remove when sanding.

However, it is essential to note that sanding can damage your painted surface if not done correctly. Before sanding, ensure your painted surface is completely dry and free from dust or debris. Use fine-grit sandpaper and work in small circular motions over the area you wish to remove or smooth.

Step 2: Select the grit of sandpaper to use.

When sanding down a surface, selecting the correct sandpaper grit is essential. The grit refers to the size of the abrasive particles embedded in the paper. Generally speaking, larger numbers show smaller particles and vice versa. For metal surfaces, a coarse grit like 80-120 should effectively remove rust or old paint. A finer grit, like 120-180, may smooth rough areas for wood surfaces.

different types of sandpaper

Step 3: Begin sanding in a circular motion.

When achieving a smooth paint application, sanding is a crucial step that should not be overlooked. And while acrylic paint is known for its versatility and durability, the question remains: can you sand acrylic paint? The answer is yes, but with some precautions.

Before sanding your acrylic-painted surface in a circular motion, ensure the surface is completely dry.

Step 4: Clean the area.

After you have finished sanding the surface of your acrylic painting with medium-grit sandpaper, it’s time to clean up the area. Before moving on to finer grit sandpaper, you want to ensure no dust or debris is left behind. Use a tack or damp cloth to wipe down the surface of the oil painting and the surrounding area.

If you find any rough spots or imperfections after using fine-grit sandpaper on your acrylic paints, you may need to switch back to medium-grit or even coarse sandpaper. However, be careful not to over-sand and remove too much of the paint layer.

How Long Should Acrylic Paint Dry Before Sanding?

Before sanding acrylic paint, allowing it to dry completely is essential. The drying time of acrylic paint can vary depending on several factors, like the thickness of the paint, the type of painting surface, and the humidity level.

Generally, acrylic paint can take a few hours to a day or more to dry completely. To ensure the paint is dry, it is recommended to wait at least 24 hours before you sand. If the paint is still tacky or feels soft to the touch, it is not yet dry enough to sand. Sanding wet or uncured paint can damage the paint surface and cause unwanted textures.

Once the acrylic paint is dry, you can use sandpaper with a fine grit to gently sand the surface to remove any physical imperfections or unwanted textures. It is important to use light pressure and avoid sanding too much or too hard to prevent damaging the actual acrylic paint texture or surface. A soft cloth can be used to remove any paint dust after sanding.

What Are the Risks of Sanding Acrylic Paint?

When sanding acrylic paint, there is a risk of creating fine particles of acrylic dust to be harmful when inhaled. Inhaling acrylic dust can cause respiratory problems and irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat. It is essential to wear safety gear like a respirator mask and goggles when sanding off acrylic paints or paint.

Another risk of sanding acrylic paint is the potential to create a rough texture on the surface. This happens if too much pressure or force is applied while sanding. The rough texture can be unappealing and require additional touch-ups or refinishing work. To avoid this, it’s recommended to use gentle pressure and start with a higher grit sandpaper before moving on to finer grits. 

How Do I Make My Acrylic Paint Look Glossy?

To make acrylic paint look glossy, you will need to apply a clear coat of varnish or gloss medium. This can be done after the paint has dried completely. The varnish or gloss medium should be applied to clean the surface in thin layers using a brush or spray bottle for an even coating.

What you may often find is, painting with acrylics can end up creating unwanted textures. So, you may need to deal with this rough surface before making your painting gloss since light catches these angles and spoils the effect.

Note: Be careful when using high gloss paints or a clear coat to get a glossy finish. It can affect how paint sticks and looks when finished. A good example is if you painted solid black. Streaks and blotches can be seen. (Read Can You Mix Acrylic And Latex Paint)

putting a layer of varnish


Can You Sand Acrylic Paint Off the Glass?

It is possible to sand acrylic paint off the glass using sandpaper with fine grit. However, it is essential to use caution and a light touch to avoid scratching or damaging the glass surface.

Can You Successfully Sand Acrylic Painting to Remove Streaks and Textures in the Paint?

Yes, sanding acrylic paints can be a successful technique to remove streaks and textures in acrylic paint. Very fine grit sandpaper and light pressure is recommended to avoid damaging the paint surface as you sand your acrylic painting.

Can You Use Sandpaper On Wet Paint?

Using sandpaper on wet acrylic paints is not recommended as this can cause the paint to become gummy and clog the fine sandpaper. It is best to wait until the paint is completely dry before sanding.

How Do You Smooth Acrylic Paint On Wood?

To smooth acrylic paint on wood, you can use fine sandpaper to gently and lightly sand down the paint’s surface. Using light pressure and avoiding sanding too much or too hard is essential.

How Do You Fix Bumps on Acrylic Paints?

You can use a putty knife to gently scrape off the unwanted texture to fix bumps on acrylic paints. If the bumps are small, you can use sandpaper with a fine grit to smooth out the surface.

Can Acrylic Paint Be Revived?

Yes, you can revive dried acrylic paint by adding a small amount of water or rubbing alcohol to the paint and stirring it until it reaches a smooth consistency.

Can You Sand Acrylic Paint