To most people, sanding is not fun....unless you get to use a power sander - then sanding is really fun. But if you don't get to use a power sander - you are stuck with a labor intensive task that is less than appealing to most - but sometimes necessary.
The rule of thumb for proper preparation is to have a clean, dry & dull surface before applying paint. This dull part is usually taken care of by the sanding but sometimes this can be achieved by other means - I'll get to that later.
Think of it this way - Your standing between 2 different floor surfaces with just your socks on - one floor surface is a shiny wood dance floor & one is a Saxony style carpet. Now getting a running start and see how far you can slide across each one. What? You didn't get very far on the carpet? This is kind of what you you want your paint to do - it needs to "BITE" or grab to the surface it's being applied to. Painting over a cured, slick surface will leave you with a layer of film improperly adhered.
Now....with that being said. Today's top of the line paints are boasting very high quality binders which improves the overall performance of the product, including adherence. So spend the extra money on a high end paint because you really do get what you pay for. Just for the record, I'm still going to create that "Bitable" surface to paint over.
How else can to prepare a surface for painting without sanding you ask?
• Primers such as Cover Stain, BIN, and Bullseye
• Deglosser - Liquid deglossers will take away some of the labor intensity you have with sanding but you will be dealing with chemicals so protection of yourself and surrounding surfaces are necessary.
• Oil Bond - Latex Agent created a wicked cool product that is similar to a deglosser but it is used a little differently. I go into more detail about it here.
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