Do You Need to Sand Between Exterior Paint Coats? (Solved!)

So, you’re all set to paint the exterior of your home. You’ve gotten your exterior paint, roughened up your walls for the first coat, and then you wonder, can you sand between coats?

Sanding between coats of paint is a practice you’re pretty familiar with but for indoor paint jobs.

You proceed to search for any information on whether this practice can be used for exterior applications, but you can’t seem to find a definite answer.

Lucky for you, you stumbled on this article!

Now, you can rest assured that your paint job will go well because you’re not only going to get essential information on this topic but a guide on how to use exterior paint properly.

Here’s if You Need to Sand Between Coats of Exterior Paint:

For the most part, you’d need to sand between coats of exterior paint. The only instance where you are permitted to apply several coats of exterior paint without sanding is if you’re using matte exterior paint.

You can contact the manufacturer of your exterior paint or go through the instructions on the product to be sure if sanding between coats is a necessary step.

Does Exterior Paint Need Two Coats?

The exterior of a home is undisputedly the first thing everyone sees. It’s part of what buyers and real estate experts use to determine a resale value. So, quick, easy, or low-effort paint jobs are generally not the best for this part of a home.  

If you want your paint job to be visually appealing or leave a lasting impression, you’re going to have to apply more than one paint coat. 

Two or three coats of paint are way better than one for the following reasons;

  1. A Better Paint Finish

With two or three coats of paint, you get an evenly textured and lush finish because the chances of missing a spot are quite slim, and your paint color really comes out. 

A single coat of paint cannot in any way give you the same results as two or three layers of paint. 

You might think getting a super thick paint medium will solve the insufficiency of a single coat and even find products that instruct that you can stop at one paint coat, but you won’t still get a satisfactory result. 

Another idea you might have is applying one coat of a darker color. I hate to break it to you but you won’t love the outcome. 

Dark exterior paints have a thin consistency, so you’ll need to apply two or more coats of this paint type for a good finish. 

  1. Wider Color Choices

If you stick to two or more coats of paint, you can use any color you like because your paint finish will always turn out good. 

A paint job that consists of one paint coat will not have a good finish unless the paint color is the same as the wall surface or old paint job. 

To avoid unwanted color alterations or base colors showing through your new paint job, apply more than one coat of paint.  

  1. A Lasting Paint Job

Paint jobs that last longer than eight years have multiple paint coats. You cannot have a lasting paint job if you wish to apply a single coat of paint. 

One-coat paint jobs typically last not more than three years. 

  1. Well-Protected Wall Surface 

Another notable benefit of applying two or three coats of paint instead of one is that it adequately protects a surface. 

External elements can easily get through or damage a thin layer of paint way faster than multiple layers. 

Do You Need to Sand After Every Coat of Paint?

Sanding is a straightforward process that is usually done before paint goes on a surface and sometimes in between coats of paint. 

As I hinted at earlier, it is only required of you to sand between coats of exterior or interior paints that are not matte. 

Matte exterior or interior paints have a velvety consistency and a slightly rough and not-so-glossy finish, so you can use them without sanding between coats. 

Another way you can determine if this step is necessary is by going through the instructions for your paint or contacting the product manufacturer to inquire. 

If you’re not too pressed for time, you can test if sanding between coats is necessary by applying exterior paint on a used board of wood lying around your house or on an inconspicuous spot on your home’s exterior. 

On one end of the board or test surface, apply multiple coats of paint without sanding, then proceed to apply and sand between coats of paint on the other end. 

Wait a couple of hours for the applications to dry, then assess the finish. If there isn’t any difference between the test paint coats, then you can go ahead with your paint job without sanding between coats. 

If there’s a massive difference between the paint coats, use the painting method that gives you the best results. 

Kindly note that the first paint coat on your work surface should be dry before you run sandpaper along its surface.

Why Should You Sand After Each Coat of Paint?

It’s almost impossible not to have irregularities on the surface of your first paint coat.

Whether it’s brush marks, paint gunk, or cracks, the first coat of paint is usually unevenly textured, making it difficult for another paint coat to properly adhere to its surface. 

Sanding between coats is the only way you can get a seamless finish if you’re using a paint type that is not matte. Sanding provides a slightly rough and evenly textured surface that paint can easily bond to.

Do not rub your paint surface too hard with the sandpaper or abrasive product. Roughen the surface of your dried paint gently. Go over the paint surface twice with the abrasive only if you have to. 

If your paint is low quality or cheap, sanding between paint coats is very necessary regardless of the paint type.

Before any form of paint goes on your work surface, sanding is also necessary.


Sanding is a process you engage in before and after painting to achieve a smooth or desirable finish. You can do it between coats of exterior and interior paints.

However, you might not always need to take this step.

To determine if you need to sand between coats of paint, you should consider the surface you are working on, and the type of paint you are using.

Kindly note that exterior paint is for exterior use only, so refrain from using it indoors.