Can Vinyl Fencing Be Sanded? (Yes, Here’s How)


You may think sanding is only for strong, hefty pieces of wood. If you thought that way, think again! There are some great, practical ways to sand your vinyl fence.

Vinyl fencing can be sanded, and the most popular way to do it is through regular 220 grit sandpaper and cleaning chemicals. You can also use a liquid sander on the vinyl as well.

Here is your guide on how to do some proper vinyl fence sanding. We will be going over some methods that have worked for others (each method is suited for different purposes, then we will go over some friendly tips.

Method One

Benefits: This method is great and is built to easily flow from the sanding portion of the project to the painting portion of the project. You can easily set yourself up for success and by following these steps, the first step of paint preparation is completed! Hit two birds with one vinyl fence, as the phrase goes right?

What you will need: trisodium phosphate, sponge, 220-grit sandpaper (here is a list of the best sandpaper for that grit), painter’s tape, bonding primer, airless spray gun.

  1. Wash and prepare the area to be sanded. Mixing chemicals is not good.
  2. Wipe down what you would like to sand with trisodium phosphate and a sponge. Certain cleansers can damage vinyl surfaces, but trisodium phosphate cleans safely and doesn’t leave behind residues that could react with the paint.
  3. Sand solid vinyl surfaces with 220-grit sandpaper for light surface abrasion. Vinyl items are not always made with 100-percent solid vinyl. What you think is pure vinyl may actually be medium-density fiberboard or similar material covered with a thin vinyl coating. If you are not sure that your vinyl is solid, do not sand it; you don’t want to risk sanding off the thin vinyl veneer. When you abrade a surface or apply specialized primer, the surface accepts paint easier. Either method allows for good adhesion by itself, and using both in combination is a smart bet for the absolute best results. If you’re unable to sand a veneer surface, you can still proceed with paint and primer.
  4. Stick painter’s tape to any areas that you don’t want to be painted. Protective taping is vital to prepping any surface because even experienced painters make mistakes.
  5. Prime the vinyl surface with a bonding primer using a paintbrush, roller, or airless spray gun. A bonding primer is formulated for better adhesion to nonporous and slick surfaces, like vinyl or glass.
  6. Wait for the primer to dry. A bonding primer takes longer to dry than a general-purpose primer, so consult the container’s label for the manufacturer’s recommended drying time.
  7. Once the primer is dry, the vinyl surface is fully prepped for painting. Source

Method Two

Benefits: No chemicals and not a lot of materials. This process includes you, the sandpaper, and some wipes. It makes it very easy for those who don’t have a ton of vinyl or would rather not break the bank paying for other supplies.

What you will need: something to do scuff (by hand) sanding (some great options are listed here), and alcohol wipes (you can find some large ones here).

  1. Prepare your workspace. Make sure you have plenty of room and any other liquids are far away from where you are sanding.
  2. Wipe down the vinyl to eliminate any excess dirt.
  3. Sand off the vinyl. This might take a bit, so be patient with yourself and the vinyl, and be sure to barely scrape the surface so you don’t break the vinyl material completely.
  4. Wipe the now sanded surface with some alcohol wipes to eliminate any minute materials that resulted from the sanding.

Method Three:

Benefits: If applied correctly, liquid sandpaper will remove the outer layer very smoothly and easily than most other methods, making it easier for the paint to settle. I found this method online and found it to be very practical for those who would like a less mess-free option.

What you will need: liquid sandpaper (you can find the best rated liquid sandpaper right here!), warm water, soap, lint-free, and a clean cloth.

  1. Wash what you would like to paint with warm water and a small amount of soap. Dish soap or hand soap works. Be particular to get all materials off.
  2. Dry off the wall with a clean cloth. Any residue moisture could affect the effectiveness of the liquid sandpaper, so be diligent during the drying process. You can also allow the wall to dry on its own.
  3. Use a lint-free cloth to apply the liquid sandpaper. Place the liquid sandpaper on the cloth, and rub it on the areas you want to be “sanded.”
  4. Let the liquid sandpaper sit for the time specified in the directions. The time necessary for the liquid sandpaper to wear away at the outer layer of gloss may vary depending on the brand.
  5. Dry the surface with another clean, lint-free cloth, or wash off the liquid sandpaper. Read the directions on the bottle because different brands of liquid sandpaper have different removal directions. Source

Tips Moving Forward:

Now that you have picked your method and got everything together, here are a few pieces of advice on how to make your project the best it can be.

General Guidelines:

  • If using sandpaper, be sure to get wet/dry sandpaper. Also, use a foam block to support the sandpaper. Source
  • Be sure not to re-paint the vinyl with a darker color. It can make the paint a lot more prone to warping.
  • Do not use the sandpaper too roughly. Be extra careful with vinyl. If done too aggressively or done with an electric sander, the vinyl fence material can break, and lead you to even more issues.
  • Preparing to paint? Here is a top-rated primer specialized for vinyl, right here.
  • Just need to sand off some bad edges or bumps on your fencing? Use an X-Acto Knife and those should come off fairly easily. Here is a link to find one that works for you.

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