I'm painting my kitchen after some hired help put up drywall and skim coated. They sanded the wall, I cleaned up and wiped the walls clean of dust.

My contractor said that I should prime, sand with 100 grit before I paint.

What is the reason and benefit of sanding after priming?

6 Answers 6


My father-in-law does cabinetry and explained it to me like this:

When you paint, the paint has to have something to hold on to. So, for instance, if you just slapped latex paint over old lacquer, it likely wouldn't hold very well, if at all. Primer helps by bonding to the old surface and being bondable to the paint.

Sanding cuts holes into the surface. It increases the primed area for the paint to hold on to and improves the bonding. I can speak from experience when I say it really does help.

100 grit is a bit much tho. I would suggest something more like 220 (most sanding blocks come around this grit). 100 would be if I were priming something else. For instance, I had an old bed frame that was just stained and lacquered. I sanded it with 150, primed, sanded 220 and then painted a final coat. It was very nice after I finished.

  • 1
    Another reason the sanding is done is to remove or knock down the fibers from the roller or other debris that end up in the finish. Keeping everything clean does not keep it from happening. Sanding keeps the quality of the paint finish smooth. Also the reason for primer is that IT is what provides/preps the surface for finish painting. When painting over topcoats, not primer, then the sanding as you suggest is required. On primed drywall 100G sandpaper will do well, 120 at the most. Very few painters use much finer than that. Again for drywall, furniture is another story. Use 320 for that.
    – Jack
    Commented Nov 5, 2016 at 2:20
  • Do I just sand the entire wall lightly or do I look for imperfections to sand?
    – milesmeow
    Commented Nov 7, 2016 at 9:36
  • 1
    Just gently scuff the wall with the sand. If you have some globs you can hit it harder.
    – Machavity
    Commented Nov 7, 2016 at 13:12
  • I'm sanding lightly with 120 grit and it looks like I'm scratching the primed wall. Should I use finer sandpaper?
    – milesmeow
    Commented Nov 8, 2016 at 6:06
  • 120 is a larger grit than 150. You don't want to damage the drywall, just scuff the layer
    – Machavity
    Commented Nov 8, 2016 at 13:12

Sanding after applying primer should help keep your surface as smooth and flat as possible, eliminating brush marks, or extra little globs.

Also when painting, like others have pointed out, can raise little fibers from the drywall, going over the surface with a sheet of sandpaper can help get rid of those lose fibers.

I usually sand between each coat of painting/priming (though most paints now come as paint/primer combos.


From my knowledge sanding lightly is ok after priming new drywall, but manufacturers suggest only sanding a light first coat. The reason behind this is that primer is only good for about 7 days to be topcoated. Primer is sticky within that time to take paint.


If it's a high-build primer in an aerosol spray can (more for automotive uses) then sanding will it will help the primer do it's job to fill in the little pin holes and scratches. This way the primer can perform like a really thin skim coat of auto body filler or spot putty.


Sanding after priming will help you eliminate bumps and dents to achieve a better finish with the paint layer.

  • Can you expand on this some? I'm pretty sure I know what you mean, but for someone asking a very basic question, usually more details are better than less.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Oct 2, 2020 at 15:12
  • Sanding after applying primer will help you keep the surface as smooth and flat as possible, eliminating any leftover bumps, dents, brush marks, etc. And that sometimes happens if you didn't' check it well before priming. Consequently, it'll help you to achieve a bright final coat and that's not dull. And most people would prefer a finish to appear a bit brighter. If you waste a few primer coats, that's good for you indeed. So, going over the surface with a sheet of sandpaper can help get rid of those unfit trouble makers. Commented Oct 3, 2020 at 14:13

Primer raises burnt paper from sanding the drywall. This burnt paper is not detectable to the eye prior to priming, and cannot be removed until after it is primed. It will feel like there is sand on the wall over and under the seams and next to the butt joints. Simply "brush" over it lightly with 120 or 150 and it falls off.

  • 2
    Hello, and welcome to Stack Exchange. What's "burnt paper"? Do you mean the loose fibers left after you sand wood or (in this case) paper? Why is it called "burnt"? (Just wondering...) Commented Apr 11, 2018 at 18:40

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