How to Choose the Right Sandpaper for Your Sander Complete Guide

Do you want to get the best finish on your project? Have you been wondering which sandpaper is the right one for your sander?

Read this comprehensive guide to make the best choice and improve your sanding results! You’ll be sure to get the perfect finish with this easy-to-follow advice.

Before choosing the right sandpaper for your sander, there are a few steps you need to take. You’ll want to select the material, grain type and grits that best fit your specific project. Whether you’re sanding wood, metal or plastic, this guide can help make the process easier. It will cover all of the considerations needed to make an informed decision.

First off, you should familiarize yourself with the types of sandpaper materials available and what each is best used for. Sandpaper is made from cloth (also known as wide belt) and paper (also known as narrow belt), and paper alternatives like synthetic rubber and foam-backed abrasives. Cloth works well on tough materials because it’s stronger and offers more traction than paper or synthetic alternatives, while paper tends to last longer on surfaces that aren’t unusually abrasive or rough. Additionally, the grain pattern of standard sandpaper is uniform across its surface but some specialty products are designed with nonuniform patterns or additional edges for increased grip capabilities on certain surfaces. Finally, there are a variety of grits available as well–measured in varying degrees from superfine to coarse — so it’s important to select one that suits your project needs based on how much material needs to be removed from a particular surface area before going over again with something finer-grained. Now that you know how many options are out there let’s go over what each material is best used for in further detail:

Explanation of the importance of sandpaper selection

The type of sandpaper used to sand a surface can have just as much impact on the quality of the final product as the sander itself. The grade of sandpaper can affect the rate at which a surface is sanded, and also determine how fine or coarse the texture of the finished product will be. Sandpaper with appropriately matched grains will help to ensure that a given job is completed both efficiently and with good results.

When selecting sandpaper, there are several factors to consider, such as its grade and type. For example, a coarse-grain paper is better suited to rough surfaces, while finer grades will produce smoother results on already smooth surfaces. Additionally, certain types of paper are more suitable for particular materials. For instance, natural-backed abrasive paper works best on softwoods while resin-bonded papers are better suited for hardwood surfaces. It’s also worth bearing in mind that lower quality papers do not last as long after multiple uses or when contacting heavily grained materials such as metals or plastic.

The right choice in terms of grade and type depends on both the material being worked upon and the desired end result – suggesting that experimentation may be necessary in order to get it just right! Deciding upon the correct type and grade of sandpaper for your specific project can save you time and money down the road when it comes time to put floors back down or pour new concrete upon an old foundation!

Overview of the topics that will be covered in the guide

This guide will cover the following topics to help you choose the right sandpaper for your needs:

-Overview of Sandpaper Grits

-Types of Sanding Surface Materials

-Types of Power Sanders and Uses

-Tips on Choosing the Right Grit and Type of Sandpaper for Your Power Sander

-How to Changeout Your Sandpaper On a Power Sander

Understanding Sandpaper Grits

Choosing the right sandpaper may seem complicated, but it boils down to two things: understanding sandpaper grits and recognizing which type of sander you have. A multitude of sandpapers are available in a range of grits and abrasiveness suitable for woodworking projects. Grit describes the actual size of the abrasive particles on the paper – the lower the number is, the coarser or bigger the particles are. The higher a grit, for example 500, means that you’ll have finer a fine finish – suitable for heavier wear and tear such as table tops or cabinet doors.

The most common types of sandpapers are aluminum oxide, garnet and silicon carbide. Aluminum oxide is widely used because it can tackle solid surfaces as well as soft surfaces such as paint coats, lacquers and varnishes. Garnet works well on natural woods; while silicon carbide deals with glass and metal effectively without leaving scratches behind.

Abrasiveness is measured in terms referred to as grits; once again – lower numbers indicate coarseness whereas higher numbers indicate less coarseness resulting in finer finishes when implemented correctly. Several differences between coarse-grits paper include 40-grit (for heavy stock removal or shaping), 60-grit (intended for removing existing finishes), 80-grit (used within furniture refinishing), 100-grit (for smoothing edges) 120-grit which is commonly used when shaping woods and 180-grit (used for fine sanding between coats of finish). All three types belong to different categories with unique properties and limitations – knowing which to use will help you save time and effort during your woodworking assignments!

Explanation of grit number and its meaning

The grit number on sandpaper is a rating that denotes the size of abrasive materials on the paper. The higher the grit number is, the finer the abrasive material will be. This means that higher grit numbered papers will be better suited for use in situations where a smooth finish is desired. Low-grit sandpaper is best used for more heavy-duty tasks such as removing old paint or materials and preparing surfaces.

Grit numbers typically range from 36 to 2000, but they can vary depending on the type of sandpaper being used. Generally speaking, coarse paper has a lower grit number and fine paper has a higher number. Grits lower than 36 are typically considered extra coarse and those higher than 2000 are super fine.

Grit sizes can also be described using names rather than just numbers, with some of the common sizes being classified as such: Coarse (36 – 60) ,Medium (80 – 120), Fine (150 – 180), Very Fine (220 – 240) , Extra Fine (280 – 320) and Super Fine (400+). Choosing which size to use should largely depend on your purpose for using it and how much of an effect you want it to have on your project’s surface.

Overview of different grit sizes and their applications

Sandpaper, more formally known as abrasive paper, is a type of material used in sanding and finishing applications. It typically consists of multiple layers of particles bonded to a paper or cloth backbone in order to provide a uniform surface for sanding or finishing. The material and composition of the gritty particles affect the level of abrasion applied during sanding and finishing. Moreover, the grit size number that is often printed on the surface of sandpapers provides an indication of their grit charge density and determines their suitability for a wide range of applications.

In general, higher grit numbers indicate less abrasive materials while lower grit numbers indicate more abrasive materials. The microscopic size and arrangement of the gritty particles themselves affects not only its abrasion properties but also how quickly it wears out and how effectively it is removed from surfaces with little dust formation. Therefore, it is important to select the right type of sandpaper for whatever project you are working on!

Common Grit Sizes: Depending on your project requirements, there are several standard sizes for sandpaper available for purchase at hardware stores or online that range from coarse to fine grain in texture. Generally speaking, coarser abrasives offer demolition capabilities with rapid removal rates while finer grains are more suited towards smoother finishes such as polishing marble or aluminum surfaces.

Coarse-Grained Sandpaper (i.e., 8-12 Grit): These types of coarse-grained papers are ideal for larger aggressive jobs such as removing layers upon layers paint coats on different surfaces (e.g., wood) or stock removal on metals where a quick result is required even at the cost of creating scratches on softer materials such as paint jobs or plastic items during preparation phases prior to painting those objects again.

Medium Grit Sandpapers (i.e., 80-180 Grit): This range offers better control than course grained papers with less scratch possibility when compared against paint jobs since smaller particles will generally pass without damage unless subjected against high mechanical force for prolonged periods due to layer adhesion between multiple paint coats overlapping each other which can occur over time after continuous painting Jobs under same circumstances over prolonged periods especially outdoors in high humidity levels due to accelerated water absorption risk. As such these grades should be reserved mostly to lesser aggressive operations when sharpness needs reducing over time gradually by using successively finer grade products with each consecutive layer removed. Tools usually considered ideal for these types operate within ranges between 4500 -10000 rpm depending its respective category descriptor so always match rotation speed with grade described purposely designed towards each dedicated task at hand ensuring best results first time round!

How do you choose the right sandpaper? - Coolblue - anything for a smile

Choosing the Right Sandpaper for the Job

Selecting sandpaper for a particular project can be a daunting process. The right type of sandpaper can make the job easier, faster and result in less waste. Sandpaper is available in a variety of grits ranging from very coarse to extra-fine, in both hand-held sheets and rolls that are designed for many uses. Selecting the correct type of paper will depend on which surface you’re working on, the level of detail desired and the desired finish.

To select the best type of sandpaper for your project:

  1. Identify your material: The type of material being worked on should be considered when choosing sandpaper. Different types of materials may require different grits or formulas such as garnet or silicon carbide paper for hard surfaces or aluminum oxide for softer woods such as pine or cherry.
  2. Understand Grit size: Different projects may require different grit sizes, depending on how rough or fine a finish is desired.- Course (less than 60 grit): Recommended only when paint needs to be removed from the material.- Medium (60-100 grit): For smoothing thicker layers of paint.- Fine (120-220 grit): Use when fewer scratches need to remain after sanding.- Superfine (over 220grit): Will create smooth finishes with minimal scratches remaining during detailing work.


  1. Woodworking/Fine Finish Sandpaper – When sanding wood, you want something that can cut quickly while still leaving behind a smooth and even surface. For this task, we recommend using sandpaper with a grit of 120 or higher. This will ensure that the wood smooths out quickly and evenly without leaving noticeable scratches behind or causing the wood fibers to tear or tear out of shape. If you’re looking for a super fine finish, use a grit between 220-320.
  2. Sanding Unfinished/Stained Wood – For unfinished/stained wood, using sandpaper with a lower grit (80-100) is recommended since it will not cause as much damage to the delicate fibers of the wood and will help improve adhesion for stains, dyes and fills. Additionally, this just requires more passes over the same section until you get your desired results.
  3. Sanding Paint & Finishes – Whether you’re refinishing existing cabinets or starting from scratch with new ones, you’ll want to use sandpaper in the range of 60-80 grit range in order to ensure that your new paint and finish adheres properly to the surface while also removing any existing layers such as varnish or stain.


When sanding and finishing metal surfaces, it’s important to choose the right grit and type of sandpaper for the job. Properly sanding metal requires tools that can remove the delicate surface layers of metal while still leaving a smooth surface. To achieve this, it’s important to choose a sandpaper that is specifically designed for use with a mechanical sander and one that is sharp enough to cut but not so aggressive that it damages or gouges the metal.

For finishing, there are generally two types of paper recommended for use on metals: aluminum oxide and zirconia alumina. Aluminum oxide abrasive paper is an economical choice, but it does not produce as consistent or high-quality results as zirconia alumina paper. Zirconia alumina paper is more expensive but produces a better finish when used on metal surfaces such as metals with intricate detailing or curves.

When deciding on which type of sandpaper to use, select a grit size that is in line with your project goals. For example, if you want to remove scratches and other surface flaws from metals prior to painting or polishing them, then use abrasive papers in higher grits (e.g., 80-220 grit). These higher grits are coarse enough to removed the imperfections while still producing a good polished finish on your project material at the same time. However, if you desire an exceptionally smooth finish after polishing is complete then opt for lower grit sizes such as 400-600 grit papers which will leave your final product looking like glass!

Auto-body repair

Auto-body work requires a special type of sandpaper, usually in the form of a “block”, which consists of various grades of sandpaper in stepped order placed inside a flat piece of hard rubber. These blocks range from 180 grit to 2000 grit and assist with removing scratch marks from paint and body repairs prior to painting or polishing. Generally looked for when working on cars is P80 grit for initial sanding and shaping, P120 grit for smoothing down rough patches on panels and P400 for preparing surfaces prior to primers being used. Softer grades than these are advisable when delicate buffing is necessary.

Additionally, auto-body shops frequenly use electric orbital or dual action belt sanders for even faster results by allowing large areas to be worked upon simultaneously. It is advised that these are used with an 8-hole standard hook and loop sander disk loaded with open coat (as opposed to closed coat) abrasive paper which has been designed specifically for use with orbital sanders due to its anti loading characteristics meaning that the abrasive particles will not clog up during usage. Grit grades will usually range from 40-350 depending on what stage the preparation process is at with higher numbers equating to more finer finishes.

Drywall sanding

When sanding drywall, Norton 3X has long been the traditional paper of choice for professional contractors, although other manufacturers such as 3M and Mirka have begun to offer excellent drywall abrasives. Hand sanding is the preferred method for finishing drywall joints and most contractor grade papers range from 100-220 grit.

If you intend to use a power sander, then 120-150 grit will give you a good start. If there are runs or ridges in the compound, use a skip coat of 80 grit in order to level them. As always when hand sanding it is a good idea to fold your paper into thirds so you can work in tight areas more easily.

If you are smoothing out the inside corners then opt for a hook and loop sharp corner triangle sander. These come in small sizes designed specifically for this task, making them much easier on large projects or projects with multiple corners:

  • Hook & loop triangle sanders
  • 3X drywall abrasive sheets in 120 – 220 grits

Wet sanding

Wet sanding is the most effective way to sand surfaces to a smooth, uniform finish. It is used for removing heavy finishes such as varnish, shellac, paint and lacquer paints. Wet sanding gives the best results when working on hard materials such as metal and wood. Choose your sandpaper carefully because wet-sanding products are not interchangeable with those used for dry-sanding.

The main types of wet sandpapers include aluminum oxide, garnet and Silicon Carbide abrasives. Aluminum oxide is a common choice for most metals and woods in general purpose grit levels of 60 to 220 grits. This type of abrasive cuts quickly so it’s good for leveling uneven areas or removing coarse material from surfaces in preparation for finishing projects.

Garnet paper is a long lasting choice with moderate cutting power – perfect if you want a finish that doesn’t remove too much material too quickly. Composed of tiny bits of crushed garnet stones or shells, this type of paper provides an even scratch pattern making it great for tasks like light wood refinishing and pre-paint preparation on car body panels or boat hulls. Its lower friability means less clogging when used in water making it an ideal option for wet sanding applications on softer materials like fiberglass or plastic substrates via hand-held blocks or power tools.

Silicon Carbide paper gives superior performance compared to other types in wet applications particularly with very fine grit sizes below 220 grits…it cuts faster but still produces an exceptionally smooth finish because its sharp edges break down under pressure resulting in small round particles that leave fewer scratches than conventional abrasives do. Silicon carbide’s also extremely versatile; it works well on finishing metals, plastics, paints coatings, glass and stone among other hard surfaces doing exceptionally well at grinding off older finishes like seals primers waxes and varnish films prior to refinishingprojects.

How to Choose the Right Sandpaper Grit for Your Project


Whether you’re sanding wood, metal, plastic or glass; it is important to choose the right grade of sandpaper that is suitable for the particular material. In summary, coarser grits are best for rough-sanding and smoothing out larger surfaces while finer grits are better for finishing work.

If you’re using a random orbital sander then you may find it beneficial to make use of a variable speed tool in order to control the aggressiveness of the action. It is important to always follow safety instructions when using power tools and always wear protective eyewear when sanding. Following these tips should ensure that you get successful results with your projects.


How do I know which sandpaper to use?

The sandpaper to use depends on the type of project and the level of abrasion needed, with lower grits used for rough sanding and higher grits used for fine sanding.

What grit is best for sander?

The grit that is best for a sander depends on the task at hand, but 120-220 grit sandpaper is commonly used for general sanding tasks in woodworking and home improvement projects.

How do I know my sandpaper grade?

The sandpaper grade can be determined by looking at the number on the back of the sandpaper, with lower numbers indicating rougher grits and higher numbers indicating finer grits.

What is 400 grit sandpaper used for?

400 grit sandpaper is used for fine sanding and smoothing surfaces, such as preparing wood for finishing or removing small imperfections.

Does it matter what Colour sandpaper is?

The color of sandpaper does not necessarily indicate its grit level, as different manufacturers may use different color codes for their sandpaper.

What is 1000 grit sandpaper used for?

1000 grit sandpaper is used for very fine sanding and polishing, such as preparing surfaces for a final coat of finish or removing very fine imperfections.

What is 240 grit sandpaper used for?

240 grit sandpaper is used for intermediate sanding tasks, such as smoothing out surfaces or preparing wood for staining.

Is higher number sandpaper better?

Higher number sandpaper indicates a finer grit and is used for finishing and polishing tasks, but the appropriate grit depends on the task at hand.

What is 3000 grit sandpaper used for?

3000 grit sandpaper is used for extremely fine sanding and polishing, such as preparing surfaces for a final coat of finish or restoring a glossy shine to surfaces.

What is 2500 grit sandpaper used for?

2500 grit sandpaper is used for very fine sanding and polishing, such as preparing surfaces for a final coat of finish or removing very fine imperfections.

See more:

Leave a Reply