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Can You Sand Oil Paint?

Oil paint usually applies really smooth, but there is always the chance that you are left with brush strokes. With other paints, it is possible to sand down the surface to get rid of brush strokes and uneven paint surfaces, but it can be dangerous to do for oil paint.

So, can you sand oil paint? You can, but it usually isn’t recommended because the dust and fumes released can be incredibly toxic. If you have no other way of smoothing out the surface of your oil paint, you can sand it with extreme caution. Make sure the paint is completely dry and always wear a mask, gloves, and eye protection.

There are better ways to smooth the surface of an oil painting than sanding it. You can use a sharp knife to gently scrape off any peaks in the paint while it is still wet. This will be the easiest way to fix your painting. In this article we go over everything you need to know in order to safely sand oil paint. Let’s read on!

How Soon Can I Sand Oil-Based Paint?

If you need to sand your oil painting because you don’t have another option, it is incredibly important that you wait for the painting to completely cure and dry before you attempt it. Oil paint will generally feel dry to the touch within 8 hours, but this doesn’t mean it is completely cured. 

My favorite and top pick is always Arteza Oil Paints. They have so many different colors, and the quality is amazing! I usually use Arteza Paints for all my projects.

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Oil paint to take around 24 hours to completely cure, but it can take even longer depending on the conditions. Depending on the weather, it can sometimes take weeks for an oil painting to fully dry.

If you aren’t sure if it is cured, it won’t hurt to wait a little longer before trying to sand the surface.

It is common for people to sand layers of oil paint as they dry to make sure the end product is as smooth as possible. You can do this with very fine sandpaper and very gently.

You will always want to make sure you are working in an area that is well-ventilated, and it will be even better if you wear a mask and eye protection while you are sanding. 

I like to use this fine-grit sandpaper for sanding down oil paint. You need to be careful and sand very gently to avoid letting out too many fumes.

Is Sanding Oil Paint Dangerous?

It can be dangerous to sand oil paint. Oil paints already have toxic fumes when they are wet and drying. These fumes usually go away when the paint has dried, but when you sand it, those fumes turn into dust.

Dust has the ability to make its way into your respiratory system the same way the fumes do when the paint is wet. Dust also has the tendency to get stuck in your nose and throat, making the effects even worse. 

If you breathe in this dust, it can make its way to your stomach. This can easily result in oil paint poisoning, because more of the paint will get into your system than you think.

The dust particles can be small and not completely visible, so you might not even know you are breathing them in.

I recommend using this 3M Respirator Face Mask, when sanding oil paint. It’s extremely important to protect yourself when sanding paint, in order to avoid toxic fumes getting into your lungs.

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The main symptoms you will experience when you are sanding oil paint include difficulty breathing, rapid heartbeat, coughing, skin irritation, or watery eyes. If these symptoms don’t clear up quickly, you will need to seek out help from a doctor.

If you do decide that you are going to sand the surface of oil paint, make sure you are extremely careful. Ensure that you are fully protected and not at risk of getting any of the dust in your mouth or nose. Keeping it out of your eyes is important as well, so wear eye protection.

Can You Paint Over Oil-Based Paint Without Sanding?

If you have a wall that is painted with oil-based paint and you are want to paint over it, you are probably wondering if you can do so without having to sand the surface first.

Luckily, there is a product offered for this exact purpose. This product allows you to paint on top of oil painted surfaces without sanding to rough up the surface first.

Oil paint dries with a pretty slick surface, which makes it difficult for other paints to stick to the surface. It is also impossible for oil paint and water-based paint to mix, even when the oil paint is dry. This product will prevent and adhesion problems.

I recommend Oil Bond, which will make it easy for other types of paint to stick to the surface. All you need to do is wipe the product on the surface with a clean, lint-free cloth. You will then want to add a little bit of the product into the paint. Mix and you can paint like normal.

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Oil Bond is used to create an extremely strong bond to surfaces painted with oil paint without priming them or sanding them first. This product has been used by professional painters and home improvement professionals.

It is highly recommended because all you need to do is wipe it onto the surface to create a velcro strength bond between the two paints.

You will also want to mix some of the paint to create a velcro-like adhesion inside the paint as well. This will make it easier for the paint to adhere to the Oil Bond that has dried on the surface. It will act just like a velcro would, clinging to each other when applied to the other piece.

How Do You Smooth Out Oil-Based Paint?

Even though oil paint usually applies smoothly, there is always a risk of brush strokes being visible, especially on wood surfaces. If you want to have a smooth surface when you are finished, you will have to take some extra steps to help the paint along the way.

The first step in ensuring that you get a smooth finish with your oil-based paint is making sure the surface you paint on is as smooth as possible. Next, you will want to make sure you are using the right paint brush.

You will need a natural bristle paintbrush for oil paints because the hair with give you a smoother finish.

I use this Oil Paintbrush Set when painting with oils. I like that it comes with a variety of sizes, and the quality is amazing!

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You can also try to add a sealant on top of the oil paint to help it look smooth. This is one of the best ways to achieve a smooth finish with oil-based paints. As you are painting, do your best to brush out any ridges that you see before they dry. When you apply a sealant, it is best to wait a few days for the oil paint to dry.

I like to use Grumbacher Gloss Varnish for my oil paintings. It’s dries in a nice glossy finish, and doesn’t yell over time. I highly recommend it!

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When you add the sealant, it will work to smooth out any ridges that you might have missed. This is possible because oil paint takes so long to completely cure, but it becomes dry to the touch in just a few days. Since the paint will still be uncured, it can still be manipulated.

Final Thoughts

There are a few different reasons you might want to sand down oil paint. No matter the reason, if you do decide to sand oil paint, you need to do it with extreme caution. Oil paint has fumes that are dangerous to our health and turning those fumes into dust gives it easier access to our respiratory system.

If you can avoid using sandpaper, it is highly recommended that you do. The best alternative to sandpaper is using a sharp knife to scrape off the uneven parts of the oil paint.

It is ideal to always try to fix any brush strokes or other imperfections before the oil paint dries, so you can prevent any damage done by the oil paint dust. 

Make sure to follow all my tips and recommended products to ensure your oil painted project turns out great! Also, don’t forget to check out my other articles for all your painting Q&A’s. Happy painting! 

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