Pros and Cons of Using Sandpaper and Deglosser

A woman using sandpaper to restore a wooden frame
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When refurbishing furniture or other woodworking, you have the choice to use a liquid sandpaper/deglosser or sandpaper to prep the item for painting or refinishing. However, you may ask yourself which is better for your project, the safest to use and the most cost-effective.

Using liquid sandpaper/deglosser or sandpaper helps dull any old paint, gloss, or varnish; preps the area for a new coat of paint or varnish; and helps bond the new finish to prevent it from chipping off easily.

When deciding to use liquid sandpaper/deglosser versus sandpaper, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How do you feel about using chemicals?
  • How much are you willing to spend on your project?
  • What supplies do you already have?
  • Do you know what kind of paint or gloss was originally applied to the item? (e.g., are you confident there is no lead?)
  • How big is your project (i.e., do you need an electric sander to complete the job)?
  • How much time do you have?

These are very important points to consider when refurbishing furniture that involves removing a layer of paint or any coating. Take precautions for any health concerns (breathing in dust or exposure to lead or other harmful substances), and keep tabs on how much time and effort you're willing to put into the project.

It's recommended that you do a test run before committing to using any new products or using them on anything that has a great amount of sentimental value to you. For example, if you're using liquid sandpaper/deglosser on an old desk that was handed down for multiple generations, only apply the deglosser to a small area before applying it to the entire desk. Let the deglosser completely dry and maybe even let it sit for a few hours to a couple of days to make sure there are no damages to the wood or quality of the item. You can even apply a small amount of paint, stain, varnish, etc., to the area after the deglosser dries to make sure the desired results are achieved.


If you're worried about using chemicals when refurbishing your item, use sandpaper. Liquid sandpaper/deglosser, unfortunately, uses chemicals to remove the glossy surface from wood furniture and other home accents. However, there are low VOC options available that reduce the amount of fumes you could inhale. Check with your local home improvement store to see which option fits best for you.

sandpaper options illustration

The Spruce

Health Risks

No matter if you're sanding or using liquid sandpaper/deglosser, work in a well-ventilated area or outdoors. Use a painter's mask to ensure you do not breathe in any sanding dust (if sanding) or chemicals (from the deglosser). When working with liquid sandpaper/deglosser, make sure you do not get it on your skin and to wear protective eyewear and gloves. If you do get it on your skin, be sure to wash the area immediately with soap and water.

Be aware of lead paint. If your piece of furniture is really old and you're certain it is from before 1978, perform a simple test to make sure there is not any lead before sanding. If it tests positive for lead, you must properly remove the lead paint and thoroughly clean up any pieces of paint or dust.


One of the benefits of using liquid sandpaper/deglosser is that it takes considerably less time to prep the item for painting, staining, etc. After thoroughly cleaning your item, apply the liquid sandpaper/deglosser to an old rag or sponge, wipe down the entire item, and let it dry. Using a liquid sander also helps get into any nooks and crannies that you may not be able to get at with sandpaper. If you're working on a piece of furniture with a lot of etched detail, using liquid sandpaper/deglosser may save you a lot of time and provide the best results.

Manually sanding your item with sandpaper can be very time-consuming and requires a lot of manual labor, depending on the size of the item you're refurbishing.


Depending on what you already have on hand or the size of the item you're refurbishing, consider how much money you're willing to spend on the sanding process. If you already have sandpaper and you want to spend as little money as possible, go with what you already have. If you're willing to spend a little more or if you have a large project that includes a lot of detail, consider purchasing a small bottle of liquid sandpaper/deglosser to help you along the way. Fortunately, a small bottle will go a long way and will not set you back too much. You can usually find a 32-ounce bottle for under $10 at your local home improvement store.