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What is Sanding Sealer?

By B. Turner
Updated May 17, 2024
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Sanding sealer is a product that helps woodworkers achieve a smooth, even finish on wood furniture and other projects. It's typically applied after any desired wood stain, but before any protective coatings or finishes. By design, sanding sealer serves as a sandable sealer, which means it can easily be sanded after application without impacting its effectiveness on the wood. Sanding sealer is typically very thin, and dries very quickly to condition the wood. By applying sanding sealer during the finishing process, woodworkers minimize rough textures and create a smooth finish.

This product can be applied over wood stain or bare wood, depending on the desired appearance. Once the stain has dried, the sealer is applied over the entire surface using a brush or foam pad. The sealer must then be allowed to dry completely before proceeding.

Next, the wood is sanded until the surface is smooth and even. A tack cloth may be used to pick up excess sanding dust and ensure the surface is clean. Finally, the wood can be finished with a protective polyurethane or varnish as needed.

Sanding sealer eliminates pits or rough spots on the surface of the wood, leaving it smooth to the touch. It also makes harder woods, such as oak or ash, easier to sand with less effort. Finally, sanding sealer causes the wood to produce a fine powder when sanded, rather than rougher pieces. This makes cleanup easier and produces a finer finish on the wood.

This product also helps to create a better appearance for stained wood beyond its texture. It seals the stain to minimize discoloration over time, and fills pores so the stain covers the surface more evenly. By filling these empty pores, the sanding sealer prevents the stain from seeping too deeply into the wood and leaving dark spots in some areas. Sanding sealer also keeps the stain from bleeding into unwanted areas on the surface of the wood.

While some woodworkers may be tempted to skip sanding sealer and stick to staining and clear coating, this sealer typically results in a higher quality finish. It adds an extra layer of protection to the wood by sealing out moisture from pores. By working with the protective finish coat to minimize moisture infiltration, sanding sealer improves the durability of both the wood and its finish. This lowers the risk of warping or swelling and extends the life of the piece compared to those not treated with this type of sealer.

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