Can You Sand Chalk Paint? (How-To)

Sanding and painting go hand in hand. When painting, sanding is advised to improve paint adhesion and the smoothness of the finish. But, can you sand chalk paint? Here is the answer to that.

Chalk paint can be sanded but the paint has to be sanded with a fine-grit sandpaper. This is because medium-grit or coarse sandpaper can scar the chalk paint since chalk paint is light and applied in thin coats.

Sanding chalk helps to smoothen the finish to get rid of brush marks and pimples in the finish. Sanding also helps to get a distressed chalk finish.

But that’s not all. This post reveals more about sanding chalk paint including the steps involved in sanding chalk. So let’s dive in.

Do You Sand Between Coats Of Chalk Paint?

Sanding chalk paint is imporant. But, do you need to sand between coats of chalk paint?

You don’t need to sand between coats of chalk paint. This is because chalk paint has perfect adhesive qualities that make the paint adhere to just about any surface.

The impressive adhesive qualities are due to the water-based nature of the chalk paint and the chalky texture of the finish.

Though sanding between coats of chalk paint isn’t required, light sanding can help boost the smoothness of the chalk finish.

Sanding between coats of paint is usually done when working with oil or glossy paints. This is because oil paints when dry form a glossy finish that prevents inter-coat adhesion. So sanding is done to abrade the gloss on the finish and improve paint adhesion.

Chalk finishes are textured and dry. This makes paint adhesion easy without sanding. Chalk paint like most latex paints is light and the paint is usually applied in thin coats.

This means that the paint will not seal or hide imperfections on the surface. So you are likely to notice tiny bumps and pimples in the chalk finish after it has dried. There might also be dust nibs and grains in the chalk that settled on it while the paint was drying.

Asides from the bumps and dust nibs on the surface, you may also notice brush marks on the chalk finish after it has dried.

Sanding lightly with fine-grit sandpaper after the chalk has dried will help to make the finish smoother by getting rid of brush marks and bumps.

So while sanding isn’t necessary between coats of chalk paint, doing it can help improve the chalk finish.

Another thing to know is how long you should wait before sanding chalk paint. Let’s find out.

Related Read: Does Chalk Paint Scratch Easily?

How Long Should Chalk Paint Dry Before Sanding?

How Long Should Chalk Paint Dry Before Sanding?

You should wait until the final coat of chalk paint cures fully before you can sand. Chalk paint dries enough for sanding between a few minutes and 24 hours. On average, most chalk paints can be sanded safely in less than an hour.

The curing time of the chalk paint depends on how heavily the paint was applied, the number of coats applied, and the room temperature. After the final coat has cured, the paint can be sanded lightly with a fine-grit sandpaper.

You shouldn’t sand chalk paint before it cures. This is because the finish will be ruined. Sanding chalk paint that hasn’t cured will remove the paint coating and make the chalk finish tacky or sticky.

Chalk paint like all other paints has to cure before it can be sanded. Chalk paint dries enough to touch in less than 30 minutes.

But this doesn’t mean the paint can be sanded yet. While you can touch and feel the paint, sanding is very different because sandpaper involves more coarse action than your palm or fingers.

When the paint cures, it can be sanded. For the chalk paint to cure, the solvent has to be completely evaporated from the paint particles. The paint pigments also have to harden. When the paint is hard, it can be sanded without damaging the paint.

Usually, chalk paint can be sanded in just a few minutes after the paint was applied. This is because the paint is water-based and water is easily evaporated from the paint pigments.

Now you know how long to wait before sanding chalk paint but how do you sand chalk without damaging it? Let’s find out.

Related Read: Does Chalk Paint Wash Off?

How To Sand Chalk Paint (Made Easy)

Sanding chalk paint is an easy task but you need to be careful while sanding the chalk to prevent damages to the finish.

Chalk paint can be sanded using two methods:

  1. Dry Sanding
  2. Wet Sanding

This post will reveal how to use both methods as well as their pros and cons. But first, let’s check out how to dry sand chalk paint.

How To Dry Sand Chalk Paint?

How To Dry Sand Chalk Paint?

To dry sand chalk paint, you’ll need the following tools:

  • Fine-Grit Sandpaper or Sanding Block
  • Soft Brush
  • Face Mask

Here is a quick rundown on how to dry sand chalk paint:

  1. Dust The Chalk Finish
  2. Rub The Sandpaper Against The Chalk Paint
  3. Vacuum The Dust
  4. Inspect The Finish
  5. Sand Again (if necessary)

Now, let’s get to work.

Dust The Chalk Finish

The first step is to dust the chalk finish. This helps to clean the finish and get rid of any debris that can hinder a good sanding result. If there are stones or any object on the chalk, it could damage the chalk paint when you start to sand.

To dust the chalk finish, use a soft brush or lint-free cloth to sweep the surface of the chalk finish. Remember chalk paint isn’t very durable. So don’t use any object that can abrade or scar the chalk paint.

Related Read:  Does Latex Paint Need To Be Sanded?

Rub The Sandpaper Against The Chalk Paint

After dusting the chalk finish, use fine-grit sandpaper to sand the chalk. 400-grit sandpaper is usually best for sanding chalk paint.

Be careful with this step. You don’t need to apply pressure while sanding.

If you are sanding between coats, you can move the sandpaper back and forth over the first coat to remove pimples. And, create tiny pores that the second coat can bite into.

If you are sanding the final coat of chalk paint, don’t move the sandpaper back and forth repeatedly. This is because you aren’t trying to create holes or pores in the final coat. Instead, you want to make the final coat smoother.

So just sand the final coat in one swipe – like you are wiping dirt off the chalk finish using the sandpaper.

Vacuum The Dust

The next step is to get rid of the sanded dust. Sanding will most likely spew dust nibs and small particles of the chalk paint. You need to get rid of these particles if not they can ruin the finish.

Related Read: How To Paint Over Chalk Paint?

Inspect The Finish

After sanding, check the finish if you have the required level of smoothness. If the final coat is smooth enough, you should be able to glide your fingers across the chalk finish without noticing any bumps or edges.

If you notice any pimple or gouge in the chalk paint, you should…

Sand Again

That’s right. Sand the chalk again. This time, you can change the grit of sandpaper or sanding block used. If you notice many imperfections after sanding with 400-grit sandpaper, then it means the 400-grit sandpaper was too smooth. So use sandpaper with less grit like 320-grit.

When you have a smooth surface that you are satisfied with, then you have successfully dry sanded chalk paint.

Pros Of Dry Sanding Chalk Paint

  • You can finish the chalk paint immediately after dry sanding.
  • The chalk finish can’t be washed off while dry sanding

Cons of Dry Sanding Chalk Paint

  • It spews a lot of dust around.
  • The sanding result isn’t as smooth as wet sanding

Now, let’s check out how to wet sand chalk paint.

How To Wet Sand Chalk Paint?

How To Wet Sand Chalk Paint?

To wet-sand or wet-distress chalk paint, you need the following tools:

  • A Bowl Of Water
  • Waterproof Sandpaper Or Sanding Sponge
  • A Dry Towel

Here is a quick rundown of how to wet sand chalk paint:

  1. Dip The Sandpaper or Sanding Sponge in Water
  2. Clean The Chalk Finish
  3. Take Out The Sandpaper and Squeeze
  4. Lay The Sandpaper Flat On The Chalk and Sand
  5. Let The Chalk Dry

Now, let’s get to work.

Dip The Sandpaper in Water

The first step is to dip the sandpaper in water. Wet sanding chalk paint involves using water and waterproof sandpaper.

Clean The Chalk Finish

Use a clean rag to clean the surface of the chalk finish. This is important to get rid of any dust nib of debris on the chalk paint.

Take Out The Sandpaper and Squeeze

The next step is to take out the sandpaper from the water. Then Squeeze it to remove excess water. You want the sandpaper to be damp, not dripping wet. If the sandpaper is dripping, it will damage the chalk paint when you sand.

Lay The Damp Sandpaper Flat On The Chalk And Sand

Lay the abrasive side of the sanding sponge or sandpaper on the chalk paint. Then sand the chalk by moving the sandpaper against the chalk finish lightly. Ensure not to apply much pressure on the finish so it doesn’t get ruined.

As you sand, you’ll notice that the sanded dust will stick to the sandpaper. When the sandpaper accumulated too much dust, it wouldn’t sand again and the chalk will get dirty.

So while sanding, keep watch on the sandpaper. When it gets dirty, dip it in the water again and squeeze before you continue with the task.

Related Read: What Happens If You Don’t Sand Between Coats Of Polycrylic Paint?

Let The Chalk Paint Dry

After wet sanding the chalk paint, leave it to dry. This will take a few minutes. When the chalk dries, inspect the finish to be sure you have the desired level of smoothness. If the chalk isn’t smooth enough, you can wet sand again.

Pros of Wet Sanding Chalk Paint

  • The method doesn’t spew dust around. It’s a cleaner method than dry sanding.
  • The chalk finish created is smoother than dry sanding

Cons of Wet Sanding Chalk Paint

  • The chalk finish can be washed off easily while sanding especially if the paint didn’t cure before it was wet sanded.
  • The chalk can’t be finished immediately after wet sanding because it will be damp.

Do You Need To Sand Before Applying Chalk Paint?

Sanding between coats of chalk paint isn't necessary. But, should you sand before applying chalk paint?

You don’t need to sand before applying chalk paint because chalk paint will adhere to just about any surface as long as the surface is clean.

Unlike oil-based paints that require sanding before application, chalk paint will stick to a surface usually without sanding first.

The only requirement before applying chalk paint is for the surface to be clean. Once the surface is clean, chalk paint will adhere to it regardless of how smooth it is.

When it comes to applying paint on a surface, sanding is usually advised to smoothen the surface. This is because most paint types have to be applied on a smooth surface to allow the paint to stick or bond to the surface.

Chalk paint on the other hand doesn’t need a smooth surface. This is due to the water-based and chalky nature of the paint. Chalk paint will adhere to concrete, wood, plastered walls, plastic, and just about any surface without sanding or even priming first.

However, sanding before applying chalk is necessary to have a smooth finish. This is because chalk paint is thin and whatever imperfection (bump, gouge, or hole) that is in the surface to be painted will still be evident after the chalk paint has dried.

So to arrive at a smooth chalk finish, sanding is required. But for paint adhesion, sanding isn’t required because chalk paint has good adhesive qualities.

Related Read: How To Apply Chalk Paint on Metal?

Do You Sand After Using Chalk Paint?

You should sand after applying chalk paint if you want to distress the chalk finish. Sanding after using chalk paint isn’t necessary unless you are going for a finish that requires you to sand.

Most DIYers prefer to sand after using chalk paint to distress the chalk finish. A distressed chalk finish looks like old painted chalk.

After the chalk paint has dried, you can sand it using fine-grit sandpaper to intentionally destroy the finish and produce an antique-like chalk finish. The distressed chalk finish is commonly used in picture frames and furniture.

So if that’s what you are going for, then you should sand the chalk paint lightly.

Chalk paint is also sanded after application if the chalk paint is to be sealed with a clear topcoat like polyurethane or clear enamel. These topcoats or sealants are usually oil-based and like all oil-based paints, they need a smooth surface to bond properly.

So if you want to seal the chalk finish with a top coat, you will need to sand lightly to allow the clear topcoat to bond to the chalk paint.

But ordinarily, chalk paint doesn’t need to be sanded after application.

Related Read: Can You Apply Multiple Coats Of Polyurethane Without Sanding?

Will Sanding Chalk Paint Damage The Finish?

Sanding chalk paint will not damage the finish except the chalk paint was sanded carelessly or with coarse-grit sandpaper. Chalk paint will also be damaged if the finish was sanded before the chalk paint has cured.

Sanding chalk paint finish is a common practice. The paint coating can be sanded to distress it and produce an antique-like finish.

The chalk paint coating can also be sanded to even out grain and smoothen the finish before a clear coat is applied.

Some painters even advise sanding chalk between coats during application to improve paint adhesion.

So sanding chalk paint is safe and will not damage the chalk finish.

The only reason sanding will ruin a chalk finish is if the chalk was sanded carelessly or with coarse-grit sandpaper. This can remove the entire finish since chalk paint is applied in thin coats.

Chalk paint can also be damaged if you sand it before it cures. Doing this will make the finish tacky and uneven.

However, if the chalk is sanded properly, there is no reason the finish will be damaged.

Related Read: Can Chalk Paint Be Tinted?

Final Words

Overall, chalk paint can be sanded. Sanding chalk paint helps to smoothen the finish by getting rid of brush marks, pimples, and imperfections.

You just need to ensure that the paint has cured before sanding it. You also need to use fine-grit sandpaper on the chalk to prevent damaging the finish.

As long as you sand the chalk paint correctly, you have nothing to worry about.

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