While most people are familiar with standard sandpaper, which is a rough, sandy surface on hard paper that is used to smooth surfaces, take away small imperfections, or prime a surface for painting. Liquid sandpaper may be less familiar.
Understanding the differences will help you make the best-informed decision about which product to use.
Liquid Sandpaper Vs Regular Sandpaper
It should be noted that liquid sandpaper is really a colloquial term since you do not actually “sand” with the product.
Instead, it is an alternative to regular or standard sandpaper products that offer advantages in certain situations.
This is especially true if you need to paint a surface that needs to be prepared quickly and easily.
Understanding the differences starts with a definition of what regular and liquid sandpaper is, how liquid sandpaper is used, and the situations in which liquid sandpaper is superior compared to regular sandpaper.
Standard sandpaper has been used for many decades to smooth wooden surfaces.
It is one of the most common items used ranging from construction sites to home projects.
Most standard versions of sandpaper can be found on thick paper or rolls that allow you to move it back and forth across a surface.
This means that you can sand by hand or use a tool to do the job.
Sanding by hand helps you smooth out the small cracks and depressions that sanding with a tool will miss, but it is also considerably more difficult and labor-intensive.
But it is commonly used to refinish furniture and other wood surfaces by preparing it for a new coat of paint.
What is Liquid Sandpaper?
As noted, before, the term itself is not accurate to the product.
Although the intention is basically the same, liquid sandpaper is a solvent that is applied to the surface and wiped with a rag to achieve the same results as regular sandpaper.
It is generally made from ethyl acetate, ethyl alcohol, and naphtha among other chemicals.
A more accurate term for a liquid sandpaper might be a de-glossing solution designed to remove the finish from a surface for preparation to paint.
When rubbed into the surface using a rag or cloth, it can remove the layers of paint or gloss that have been applied previously from both wood and metal surfaces.
In certain circumstances, using liquid sandpaper offers advantages that cannot be matched by standard sandpaper.
When and Why to Choose Liquid Sandpaper?
The main reason to use liquid sandpaper is to prepare a surface for painting with less time and effort that will be needed when using regular sandpaper.
So, if you are on a small project that needs to be completed relatively fast, its good to use liquid sandpaper rather than your regular piece of sandpaper.
Both products do essentially the same job, but in different ways which is important to understand, so you can make the right decision as to which one to use.
1- Ease of Use:
Liquid sandpaper takes less time and effort to use compared to regular sandpaper.
This is particularly true for uneven or rounded surfaces that are common with many furniture products.
A wooden chair for example may have rounded, uneven areas complete with design patterns that make regular sandpaper unwelcome in such situations.
This is because regular sandpaper is both labor-intensive and might dull the details that such furniture may have that makes it unique.
Liquid sandpaper is far less labor-intensive and helps preserve the details to a much greater degree.
2- No Dust Particles:
Another advantage of liquid sandpaper is that you have little in the way of clean-up after the project is finished.
Unlike regular sandpaper which leaves behind many dust particles on the table or floor, liquid sandpaper leaves little to clean up apart from removing the product from the surface area.
How to Use a Liquid Sandpaper Correctly?
To apply the liquid sandpaper properly, you will need to understand the steps for its use.
Keep in mind that it primarily will remove the top layers of finish or paint from a surface, but it does have its limitation.
- Wash the surface with warm water and soap. Remove all dirt from the surface.
- Dry the wall with a cloth. Let it fully air dry before applying the product.
- Place a small amount of liquid sandpaper on a lint-free cloth.
- Rub the cloth on the surface so that the liquid sandpaper is transferred.
- Let the liquid sandpaper sit on the surface for the time designated by the instructions.
- Dry the surface with another lint-free cloth.
You can also wash away the liquid sandpaper if you choose, then dry it properly before you start painting.
Just be sure to read and follow the directions properly.
As you can tell from the instructions, liquid sandpaper works as a chemical reaction, not friction as with regular sandpaper.
Are There Any Disadvantages of Using Liquid Sandpaper?
One con of liquid sandpaper is that many of the products use toxic chemicals.
So, you will need to use it in a well-ventilated area and wear the proper protection.
For objects that can be moved, you may want to do the work outdoors or in a garage with the garage door open and the fans running.
Another potential con is that liquid sandpaper is more expensive and not really designed for use on large surfaced.
If you want to repaint a chair, table, or wall that is relatively smooth to begin with, then liquid sandpaper can be quite useful.
However, if you want to sand a large, rough surface such as a wooden floor that has many cracks and imperfections, you may want to use a sanding machine instead.
Liquid sandpaper is perfect for applications where you want to preserve delicate details in the wood surface.
But it is also quite useful when you want to save time and effort in removing the gloss or paint from an item that needs to be repainted.
The Bottom Line
Naturally, liquid sandpaper is more expensive than its regular sandpaper counterpart and you will need special protection such as a mask and gloves when using it.
But the advantages are considerable as it does the work for you with far less time and effort compared to regular sandpaper.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls. He had worked as a painter for more than a decade to serve the customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques that are being implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.