What Happens if You Don’t Sand Wood Before Painting?

A great way to make a profit from selling older furniture is by flipping it over. People often sell their older furniture as soon as it starts to dull or when they buy a newer one. If the wooden furniture isn’t broken, it can still be salvaged with a bit of paint. You might also want to paint your own woodworking project as well to give it a unique look. However, it is a pretty daunting task to sand the whole furniture. Wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to sand it prior? Though what would happen to the furniture if you don’t and instead paint it directly? Look no further, as we will tell you what happens if you don’t sand wood before painting.

If you don’t sand the wood before painting on it, the paint will not adhere properly to it. The paint job will not look smooth but will end up blotchy instead. By roughing up the surface of the wood, you give the paint space in form of small ridges that appear when you sand it. These ridges help house the paint, giving it a smoother feel and look. However, painting without sanding is possible if you use chalk paints instead. Though any other paint will require you to sand the surface and then paint over it.

Prepping or sanding wood is an essential job that every woodworker has to do. It is a painful task, which often ends up taking hours of time. Though without sanding it is hard for finish and paint to adhere to the wood. When you sand wood, it creates small ridges on the surface which allows paints and finishes to stick to it better. So every woodworking project, whether it is to build new furniture from scratch or flip it, requires you to sand it. The only exception is when you are using chalk paint, which can adhere even to the smoothest surfaces.

Do You Have to Sand Wood Before Painting?

Woodworking is a process, you work wood in different ways before you reach the end product. Whether it is a carving, furniture, cabinetry, or decking, you go through quite a few steps. Prepping wood or sanding is usually the second last step before applying any finish or paint to the wood. It is highly recommended that you do not skip this step if you want the paint to adhere without any help. If you don’t sand the paint will end up blotchy and uneven.

When you work wood using hand tools or power tools, there are bound to be scratch marks on it from them. To remove them, people sand the wood to help even out any marks or scratches from the surface. Sanding wood is also important as it helps create abraded ridges or spaces for finishes and paints. Paints stick better to a sanded surface than one that hasn’t been sanded at all.

What Happens When You Don’t Sand Wood Before Painting

When you are sanding wood, you are not only removing the previous finish if the furniture is old, but you are also smoothening out any tool marks or scratches if your project is new. When you apply a finish or paint on any wooden surface that isn’t sanded, these scratches and marks become more visible due to the nature of the paints and finishes. They highlight these scratches and the surface might be uneven as well. To help avoid that, sand wood using a lower grit and make your way up the grits to remove the marks from the previous sandpaper.

Sanding wood is primarily done for removing scratches and tool marks from the surface. It also serves as a way to etch ridges that help the finish adhere to the wood better. So whether you are applying a clear coat, a stain, or paint, sanding will help these adhere to the wood better. The abraded ridges from the sandpaper will provide the perfect space for paint to sit. If you don’t sand it will make the paint sit on the wood uneven, making it blotchy.

What Can You do Instead of Sanding Wood Before Painting

While any woodworker will tell you to sand your wood before finishing it off with paint or a clear coat, there are a few ways in which you can skip this process and paint on the wood directly. This might involve buying a completely different paint or buying something like a primer to help the paint adhere better.

1. Bonding Primer

Primers are applied to surfaces before painting to help paints adhere to them better. People often use a primer spray on surfaces before painting them. A bonding primer is similar, it helps prime a surface so that paint can adhere to it better. How it works is that there are small abrasive particles on the bonding primer. When you apply it to a surface, it adheres to it easily due to its glue-like nature. When it dries up the abrasive particles on the primer act like a sanded surface that has ridges in it.

So when you apply paint over a primer it sits on it perfectly just like how it would on a sanded surface. This helps you avoid the step of sanding wood completely before you have to paint it. This can shave hours of work that would go into sanding wood from your time. Not to mention a bonding primer helps you prep multiple types of surfaces for painting and not just wood. You can use it on metals, glass, and even plastics.

2. Chalk Paint

A really famous way of flipping furniture is using chalk paint. These paints, like their name, have a chalk-like look to them. This makes them perfect for giving a distressed look to furniture. The best part about this paint is that it does not require you to sand wood for prepping. You can just skip the entire process completely and save tons of time. Chalk paint is really famous these days to be used over wood not only for its ability to save time that you spend on sanding wood from low grits to higher ones but also for the beautiful look it gives to the wood. 

The only downside is that if you are looking for a glossy look, then chalk paint isn’t for you. It has a matte finish that looks like chalk, hence the name, and might not be your preference. So in the end, if you are willing to compromise on your preferences, then chalk paint can cut hours of prep time for you.

3. Liquid Sander

A liquid sander is used to turn glossy and smooth areas into matte surfaces. This allows you to paint over them without having to actually sand wood. While it is easy in application, it is not actually sanding the surface. It does not remove marks, scratches, and even out surfaces as sanding would. The chemical composition just converts smoother surfaces to give the abraded feeling sandpaper does.

The good side is that it saves hours, prevents dust, and can reach into places that would be hard to reach with sandpaper. The downside is that it is chemically composed, has a strong odour, releases fumes, and does not remove scratches and tool marks. So if saving time on sanding is what you are looking for, it is a great option.

4. Mineral Paint

Mineral paint is one of the best alternatives that can help you avoid sanding. It is non-toxic, comes in a variety of colours, and adheres to smooth surfaces with ease. It is very durable as well as it is almost water-proof. The mineral paint formula has been patented by Fusion mineral paints, so they are the only brand that sells it. Whilst being perfect in every way, the only downside is that it is immensely expensive compared to other alternatives. So if money is not your concern, then mineral paint is the way to go.

Final Thoughts

Sanding and prepping wood is an essential part of woodworking. No matter how time-consuming and boring it feels and looks, it is still required for people to apply finishes or paints to wood. There are more benefits to sanding other than just helping paint adhere to it better. Though there are alternatives, like we have discussed above, it all falls down to whether you want to spend the extra money or cut down the expenses and put extra effort into your woodworking project by sanding.

Martin Swizz

Hi! This is Martin, I like to research, experiment, and learn new things related to wood carving and other kinds of woodworking.

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