What Is Liquid Sandpaper?

old peeling wood

Proper sanding is an art form. It takes hard work, practice, and knowledge to understand the different grits and grades and to know just how much elbow grease to use to eliminate imperfections or to achieve the perfect finish without harming the surface underneath. So, if the idea of something called liquid sandpaper sounds too good to be true, you’re half right. This chemical product is certainly a liquid, but sandpaper it is not.


Despite the name, this chemical solution is not a straight sandpaper substitute. However, for certain applications where sandpaper is also useful, liquid sandpaper offers an alternative that is less labor intensive. One of the most common jobs where traditional sandpaper can work but liquid sandpaper makes things easier is deglossing.

In fact, liquid sandpaper is also known as deglosser or deglossing solution made from chemicals such as naphtha, ethyl acetate, and ethyl alcohol, among others. Liquid sandpaper is widely used for removing high-gloss paint from walls and other surfaces. It simply peels off the layers of paint from a surface and leaves behind a rough surface that provides a high level of adherence for new paint. This is necessary because a high-gloss surface does not allow proper adhesion when another coat of paint is applied over it.


Liquid sandpaper is easy to use in comparison to standard sandpaper. All you have to do is use a clean cloth to apply it on a freshly cleaned surface and wait for the recommended amount of dry time. Clean up the residue once it's dry, and reveal a surface that looks freshly sanded. There's no scrubbing or cleaning up necessary.

Additional Benefits

Ease of application isn't its only distinguishment from normal sandpaper. Liquid sandpaper is a no-brainer choice for troublesome or intricate surfaces like crown molding or nooks and crannies. It’s liquid application makes it perfect for covering all the surface area, even on intricate pieces, and getting into places that are nearly impossible to work with sandpaper alone.

Because the chemicals peel and remove gloss and layers without employing any abrasive properties like actual sandpaper, it is an ideal option for refinishing antiques and other valuables without risking overworking the surfaces with a rough abrasive.


Like any chemical product, there are drawbacks. One important drawback to consider is that liquid sandpaper is toxic and highly volatile in nature. It is dangerous when inhaled and must be kept away from direct contact with the body. Meaning, it is vital that any liquid sandpaper or similar deglossing solutions only be used in well-ventilated areas.

Also, if you do in fact want to do work that benefits from abrasion, like smoothing bumps or uneven surfaces, as noted above, the liquid application is useless. It will simply peel layers of gloss but won’t actually remedy dents or smooth bumps.