Often times, new homeowners can be intimidated by DIY renovations because of the labor and time it takes to invest in most projects. Refinishing your kitchen cabinets, for example, can be a huge pain. The need to sand every single door and surface of the cabinets is enough to make anyone decide to leave them as-is or hire a professional.
There is an alternative, though. Liquid sandpaper is a great option for those needing to remove the glossy finish before applying a new coat of paint to a surface.
So, how do you use liquid sandpaper? To use liquid sandpaper, first ensure the surface is thoroughly cleaned and dried. Apply the liquid sandpaper with a clean rag, let sit for 10-15 minutes, then wipe away any remaining residue. Always wear proper safety gear when handling liquid sandpaper.
To really make sure you’re prepared to use liquid sandpaper for any project on your list, let’s dive into the details.
What Is Liquid Sandpaper?
Despite the name, liquid sandpaper does not act as traditional sandpaper.
Traditional sandpaper is made with a thick, durable paper and coarse granules that can smooth down a surface beyond just the gloss. It can strip away coats of paint or varnish or layers of wood, and level out any imperfections that may exist on your surface.
Liquid sandpaper, however, is much less heavy-duty. It’s a chemical solution consisting of naptha, ethyl alcohol, ethyl acetate, and other chemicals.
Rather than taking away layers of paint or any imperfections, it’s designed to only strip the glossy finish off of an already painted surface. This prepares the surface for a new coat of paint that is applied over the existing one.
Advantages Of Liquid Sandpaper
With its limited capabilities, why use liquid sandpaper at all? There are many reasons! First, liquid sandpaper is much less labor intensive. Using sandpaper by hand to sand down a surface can take hours, and it’s a lot of physical work.
You could try a mechanical sander, but it won’t get those curves, nooks, and crannies of more detailed surfaces. Liquid sandpaper has the advantage of getting into the crevices of those detailed surfaces and is also easily applied to larger surfaces without breaking your back.
It’s much faster, too! After washing and drying your surface, you need only apply the liquid sandpaper and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. You’ll see a difference in your surface just on the initial application before it even sits.
After letting it rest, you’ll simply wash down the surface again and you’re ready to paint.
How To Use Liquid Sandpaper On Cabinets
Repainting kitchen cabinets can seem a daunting task, but liquid sandpaper makes the project so much easier.
Follow these easy steps:
- Remove all hardware, drawers, and doors. You’ll want a clear surface to work. It’s also important for getting the entire structure of the cabinets themselves that the doors and drawers are removed. You can even work on the doors and drawers outside so you’re not breathing in the chemicals for as long when working on the structure inside that can’t be removed.
- Wash and dry all cabinet surfaces. Having a clean surface is vital for the liquid sandpaper to work. Try using a TSP based cleaner on the area around your stovetop to remove any grease.
- Apply liquid sandpaper with a rag. Shake your bottle of liquid sandpaper, pour it onto the rag, and rub in circles to apply to the surface.
- Let sit for 10-15 minutes. Be sure to follow the specific time and directions on your bottle of liquid sandpaper.
- Wipe away any remaining residue. Some of the gloss varnish will already come up as you apply the liquid sandpaper. After you’ve let it sit, remove any of the remaining residue with a different rag than you used for the initial application.
- Prime and paint your new coat. Now that you’ve prepared the surfaces, you’re ready to add your primer and a fresh coat of paint!
Depending on the size of your kitchen, this can be quite the undertaking. The nice thing about liquid sandpaper is that as you work to apply it to each part of your cabinets, the previous surface is already sitting.
This means that by the time you finish applying the liquid sandpaper to the last surface, your first surface is likely ready to be wiped down already. This cuts out the waiting time between steps in the process.
How To Use Liquid Sandpaper On Trim
Using liquid sandpaper on trim is a very similar process, but there are specific things to consider when applying to trim.
In all likelihood, you will not be ripping the trim off of your walls to repaint it. In this case, it’s vital to lay down a tarp or drop cloth on your flooring in the case of any spills or drips.
You may also want to apply painters tape around the edges of your trim. This will help protect the paint on your walls from being affected by the liquid sandpaper. Since you will not be able to remove any components to work outside, the need for ventilation is paramount. Be sure to open as many windows as you can and have several fans running.
Other than these differences, the process will work the same. Clean and dry the surface, apply the liquid sandpaper with a clean rag, let sit for 10-15 minutes, then wipe away any remaining residue.
When using liquid sandpaper, it’s important to keep in mind that this is a chemical solution, often with many toxic chemicals involved. Make sure you’re using it in a well-ventilated area. If your project is able to be worked on outdoors, we highly recommend to do so. If not, make sure to open a lot of windows and have several fans running.
Before you get started, be sure to have all of your safety gear at the ready. You’ll need safety goggles, disposable gloves, a mask, and clothes that will protect your body in the case of any spills.
The rag you use for application will need to be disposed of when finished using the sandpaper, so keep this in mind when choosing which rag you’ll use. Keep the solution away from flames.
If storing the bottle for future use, be sure to put it out of reach of children or pets and store upright on the shelf. Never store it in the kitchen or near any food products.
To dispose of any leftover liquid sandpaper, be sure to follow directions on the bottle. It should not be poured down the drain as this can contaminate the water system in your area.
What Type Of Liquid Sandpaper Is Best?
Any liquid sandpaper will do the job. If you’re having trouble finding liquid sandpaper, try searching for sander deglosser instead. This is another term for the same product.
We do suggest the liquid sandpaper made by Klean Strip, found on Amazon here. This is a reputable brand that you can easily find at your local hardware store as well.
How Soon After Using Liquid Sandpaper Can You Paint?
You’ll want to let the liquid sandpaper sit for 10-15 minutes, depending on your brand’s directions.
After letting it sit, you still need to wipe down the surface and let it dry completely (if it’s not dry already) before applying your primer or new coat of paint. The time it will take for your surface to dry depends on how and where it’s drying, what the surface is, and how wet it is.
Generally, it shouldn’t take long. Use your best judgment on how dry your surface feels before moving on to the primer step.
Is Liquid Sandpaper Better Than Sanding?
It depends on your project and the goal you’re looking to achieve. If you need a large, flat wooden surface smoothed over and any imperfections remedied, you’ll want to go with traditional sanding.
If you’re just looking to prep an already painted or stained surface for a new coat, or if you’re looking to prep a surface that has lots of intricate detail work with grooves and curves, then liquid sandpaper is your best bet.
Do I Have To Degloss Before Painting?
As a general rule, paint needs a rough, raw surface to stick.
When you’re getting ready to add a new coat of paint to an item or surface that already has a layer (or several layers) of paint, then deglossing (or using liquid sandpaper) is a must. The new coat of paint will not stick to the glossy finish of the current coat of paint.
However, if you’ve just purchased a new wooden furniture piece that is unfinished, deglossing is unnecessary. Simply use a fine grain sandpaper to smooth out the wood and apply your primer and paint, or wood stain, depending on your project.
Up Next: Sanding Acrylic Paint (Complete Guide)