Can You Sand Acrylic Paint?

Acrylic paint is one of the most popular types of paint. Although to improve the final look of your paint project, you may have considered whether you can sand acrylic paint.

Sanding paint is a great way to add a bit of texture or special effects to the surface of your painting. However, if you are too harsh, you could easily damage the surface or erase your hard work.

So, can you sand acrylic paint without affecting your design? Here is everything you need to know.

How to Sand an Acrylic Painting

Sanding acrylic paint using fine-grit sandpaper can enhance the look of your painting.

You can also smooth the surface of an acrylic painting by sanding the surface before applying any paint. Use fine-grit sandpaper to smooth out wood, metal, or even the surface layer of canvas.

If you want to sand your painting afterward, whether to add texture or smooth out imperfections, you can do so as long as you follow precautions to avoid ruining your artwork. 

Always use fine-grit sandpaper, nothing coarser, to avoid ruining acrylic paint. Slightly wet the paint beforehand to avoid producing too much toxic acrylic dust. Finally, work carefully and in small batches as too many rough movements can ruin the painting.

How Long Should Acrylic Paint Dry Before Sanding?

Your acrylic paint should be completely dry before you start sanding. Otherwise, you risk smudging the paint. A good rule of thumb is to wait 30 to 45 minutes after your first coat before sanding.

Do You Need to Sand Between Coats of Acrylic Paint?

Sanding between coats of acrylic paint depends on the look you wish to create. If you want a rough, textured look where strokes are visible, then you do not need to sand between coats.

However, if you want the final surface you are working on to be smooth, you should sand in between coats. Sanding eliminates surface imperfections.

What Grit Sandpaper Should I Use Between Coats?

Fine grit sandpaper is the best one to use between coats of acrylic paint. Fine-grit sandpaper is usually between 180 and 240 grit.

Occasionally, different grits of sandpaper are appropriate to use with acrylic paint. For example, if you attempt to fix a minor imperfection in a painting, extra-fine grit sandpaper is your best bet. However, using this sandpaper over a larger surface will be very tedious. 

If you are attempting to fix a more significant mistake, use medium-grit sandpaper.


Sanding acrylic paint will add texture to your paint project and remove minor imperfections.

However, be careful when sanding, as being too rough with acrylic paint causes the finish to smudge and flake off.

For the best result, wait for the paint to dry completely and use fine-grit sandpaper.

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