Wet Sanding Acrylics for Best Results

14 thoughts on “Wet Sanding Acrylics for Best Results”

    • Hello Regina,
      Thanks for your comment. It would be very difficult to remove varnish by sanding it off the surface. The best way forward is to remove the varnish with MSA Solvent and repaint. If that is not possible, then you can paint over the MSA with additional acrylic layers. There are some caveats though, so best if you got in touch with our tech team by calling 800-959-6543 or email us at help@goldenpaints.com so we can go over the potentials with this type of layering.
      Take care,
      Greg

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    • Yes, this is very possible. Many artists sand their Gesso layers to provide a smoother start for their paintings. give it a try!
      Greg

      Reply
  1. Can I use the wet sanding technique on Silverpoint/Drawing Ground? I typically brush the ground on a claybord panel, then sand, apply another coat of the ground, and lightly sand.

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    • Hi Peter,
      Wet sanding should provide a similar outcome to the dry sanding technique you are already performing, but with less scuffing and perhaps faster results. If you like what you’re getting with these steps, then try wet sanding. Just be sure to wipe away all the slurry that results and don’t be shy with the water additions, especially if the sandpaper starts to get grabby.
      Best wishes!
      Greg

      Reply
  2. Thanks for this article. I’ve been wetsanding my gesso’ed surface (gesso on linen over panel) for years. I wetsand the final gesso layer, then apply Gamblin oil ground over top.
    I have always wondered if the wetsanding could be interfering with the gesso’s permanence in some way, by breaking up the acrylic surface after curing. So I’m curious to hear more about the precaution “Sanding can change the performance of the product” – in what ways?

    Reply
    • Hello Samantha,
      Thanks for your comment. Sanding the Gesso should not interfere with its long term stability. If anything, it could change the sheen of the products applied over top, due to increased surface area on the sanded product – increased absorbency because the sanded surface may wick in water or oil differently or more aggressively. We have also seen reduced adhesion when surfaces are sanded to a super smooth polish. But, normal sanded surfaces, smooth but not polished, seem to not have any problems with adhesion. Just make sure you wipe down any residual dusty material before painting over the surface and you should be good.
      Take care,
      Greg

      Reply
  3. I’ve been dry sanding Golden’s black Gesso on paper for a long time with all the difficulties you mention. So I gave wet sanding with 220 and 400 grit wet/dry paper and voila– so much faster and so much better even if a bit messy. I use Strathmore 4 ply bristol board so that the paper doesn’t warp if don’t flood the surface. I tried wet sanding some time ago but your article helped me try again. Thanks!

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  4. What grit would you recommend for removing brush strokes on gesso and acrylic paint? I’ve read elsewhere to start with 600 or lower and I’ve read to start with 1000 or higher so I’m confused. Thank you!

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    • Sanding acrylics with coarse grit sandpapers creates deep scratches that telegraph through clear layers of mediums or paints applied on top. 400 grit can be used for products like gesso and molding pastes due to their high solids content. Some paints (for example, earth colors) can also be sanded with 400 grit but many are going to have very small pigment particles with a more rubbery nature. Starting with 600 grit is a good idea, but think of it as a test to see how effectively it knocks down the brush strokes, and also how deep the scratches are. Then increase or decrease the grit size of the sandpaper by one step and observe how the paint surface responds. Ideally, while you paint, you can make some test panels to try various grits and sandpaper types. I hope that helps with the process. It can be slow going but once you dial in the factors, you should be able to reduce brush strokes with more confidence on an actual project. – Mike

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