Do You Have to Sand Between Coats of Polycrylic?

Polycrylic is a type of water-based protective coating that is used on all types of wooden surfaces, including cabinets, flooring, and doors.

If you’ve recently undertaken a project to transform some of the wood furniture within your home, whether or not you’ll need to sand in between coats of Polycrylic will depend on a variety of factors.

Firstly, you might not need to sand your Polycrylic if you have applied each coat of Polycrylic within the amount of time recommended by the manufacturer, as there are a handful of Polycrylic primers on the market that do not need to be sanded in-between coats, although we do recommend ensuring that you read the back of the Polycrylic’s container to find out whether this is the case for you.

On the other hand, regardless of whether or not you might need to, some people recommend that you should lightly buff the surface of each Polycrylic coat no matter what in order to ensure that the fresh coat will be able to bond, as the texture will help to increase the adhesive properties of the Polycrylic.

In addition to that, we also recommend that you make sure to lightly sand the very last coat of Polycrylic that you apply prior to applying paint, otherwise you might find that you encounter problems.

Both latex and oil-based paints struggle to properly adhere themselves to smooth surfaces, which can cause them to peel, chip, and crack due to inadequate bonding.

For this reason, make sure that you lightly scuff up the surface of the final coat, so that the paint you then go ahead and apply will have something to stick to.

How many coats of Polycrylic should I apply?

Regardless of whether you’re a woodworker, or a keen DIY’er, we’re sure that you’ll already know how important it is to carefully treat the wood surface you’re working with, to ensure that it is able to withstand the paint or varnish that’s going to be applied.

If you don’t use a high-quality protective coating, such as Polycrylic, then you’ll run the risk of causing your wood piece to become damaged from a variety of different factors, including moisture and UV radiation.

What’s more, though there are other types of wood-friendly protective coats on the market, Polycrylic is by far one of the best protective products to use when working with all types of wooden furniture.

Despite the fact it can be used as the base coat (which will seal the wood) it can also be used as the final topcoat to ensure the durability of the completed paint job, so it’s excellent value for money.

On the topic of how many coats you should apply, it is always recommended to use three layers when creating the base, and one to two layers when applying the topcoat.

One of the main benefits of Polycrylic is that it is fast-drying, which means that you’ll only need to wait around 30 minutes before being able to apply your next coat.

As a side note, prior to applying a new coat, you should consider lightly sanding your Polycrylic, as this will help the fresh layer adhere correctly to the dried layer.

This will help to prevent any peeling, cracking, or imperfections from appearing.

Related: Best HVLP spray gun for woodworking

What happens if you don’t sand between coats of Polycrylic?

If you don’t choose to sand between each coat of Polycrylic that you apply, you’ll likely still end up with beautiful results, though you might find that you’ll need to re-do the completed paint job a lot more sooner than you may have intended.

Now, it’s important to specify that this won’t be the case for everyone, as there are some Polycrylic protective products on the market that are specifically designed to not require the need for sanding in-between coats, so long as you apply each coat within the allotted time frame.

If you’re ever unsure about whether or not your Polycrylic requires sanding, all you will need to do is refer to the back of its container, and the information will be there.

However, for standard Polycrylic, we do recommend that you take the time to gently sand each layer of Polycrylic before applying a fresh coat.

This will ensure that the new Polycrylic that you’re applying will be able to stick to the texture you will have created from sanding, which will help to ensure the new coat is able to properly bond itself to the surface.

If you do not want to sand every Polycrylic coat, then we strongly recommend that you at least sand the final base coat of Polycrylic that you apply, otherwise you might find that you encounter problems when applying the paint.

In general, all types of paint (including latex and oil-based) struggle to properly adhere to surfaces that are smooth, which is why sanding is such an important step to carry out.

By lightly buffing the final Polycrylic coat, you will be creating texture within the surface that will ensure the paint has something to stick to, rather than sliding off and being unable to effectively dry.

How do I get a smooth finish with Polycrylic?

Regardless of whether you’re experienced with using top and base coats or not, Polycrylic is a super easy to use (and apply) protective, water-based coating that is able to help protect and add durability to all types of wood surfaces.

If you’re applying Polycrylic as a base coat to seal the wood surface you plan on painting, then a smooth finish shouldn’t be too much of a priority, as the main purpose of a Polycrylic foundation is to help seal the wood and protect it from moisture, while also enhancing the adhesive properties of paint.

On the flip side, if you’re planning on using Polycrylic as a top coat, you will need to make sure that it applies itself smoothly, otherwise you might end up with unsightly streaks.

To ensure you achieve a smooth finish with Polycrylic, make sure that you are applying it in the direction of the grain, and using long strokes that do not end anywhere on the surface.

You should also be sure to apply thin coats, as this will give you more control over the final finish and help to prevent brush strokes from appearing.

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