Choosing the Right Sandpaper

Choosing the right sandpaper for your job is critical to ensuring you get the results you want.

Sanding is one of the most important steps in woodworking applications. It is beneficial in many situations, such as smoothing workpiece surfaces, keeping them free of chips and scratches, preparing surfaces for painting, staining, or rounding edges. Whether you decide to use a grinding wheel, sandpaper or sponge, first you need to choose the right grade for your application. Lower numbers are rougher and are suitable for aggressive paint and rust removal, while higher numbers are finer and are great for general smoothing and final preparation.


What Is The Best Sandpaper?

There are 6 main sandpaper sizes, classified as coarse, medium, fine and extra fine. Grit is a rating of the size of the abrasive material on the sandpaper. The larger the particle size, the smoother the finish; the smaller the particle size, the rougher the finish, but the faster the material removal.

  • 40 grit: Coarse
  • 80 grit: Medium
  • 100 grit: Medium
  • 120 grit: Fine
  • 220 grit: Fine
  • 440 grit: Extra Fine

The grit you choose depends entirely on your application.

Below We Explain What Each Grit Means And Its Common Applications:

  • Coarse sandpaper is often used to roughen wood, or to remove previous finishes such as paint or varnish.
  • Medium sandpaper is used for final shaping work or to remove planing marks.
  • Most shops use fine-grit sandpaper for final sanding before the workpiece is finished.
  • Use superfine sandpaper between coats of paint or varnish for the smoothest finish.
  • Extra-coarse sandpaper (24-36 grit) specially designed for floor sanding is also available. It has a fast material removal rate. It’s worth noting that in most projects, you’ll start with coarse sandpaper and work your way up to finer sandpaper.

Paper Or Cloth?

Paper – If you need something more flexible, choose a lighter weight paper, but the heavier weight paper is stronger and less prone to tearing.

Cloth – The fabric has excellent durability and flexibility, is tear resistant and can withstand constant mixing and flexin g during use. Cloth-based products are used only in dry grinding operations and are ideal for removing heavy materials. This is great for ripping into strips and contours, such as stair spindles.

Here Are a Few Things To Consider When Choosing a Grit Size For Sandpaper:

  • Fine sandpaper will not remove paint or varnish
  • Medium sandpaper will leave a rough surface texture, so follow up later with fine sandpaper depending on the finish you want
  • Coarse sandpaperwill remove material quickly