What Type of Sandpaper Should I Use?

You may love the satisfaction of sanding down a rough piece of wood, or you may hate the entire sanding process. Either way, sanding is a big part of DIYing. There are several different types of sandpaper… but why? When do you use which kind? Hopefully this blog can help you determine what you need.

Types of sandpaper:

1) Garnet: Garnet is good for hand-sanding raw wood that has small imperfections or needs to be polished. This sandpaper wears pretty quickly, but the softer abrasion is good for lighter scratches.

2) Emery: Emery works for hand-sanding or power-tool sanding on metal. Includes a cloth backing.

3) Aluminum Oxide: Works on several surfaces, like wood, drywall, plastic, and metal. It is very longlasting.

4) Silicon Carbide: Can use on wood, plastic, or metal to remove paint or rust. Most can be used for wet-sanding.

5) Zirconia Alumina: Suitable for wood, fiberglass, metal and painted surfaces. Used for power-sanding.

6) Ceramic Alumina: Durable and good for aggressive material removal on wood.

7) Flint: Good for sanding paint off of wood.

Sanding scratches away wood defects by using thousands of tiny abrasive particles, so using the wrong strength can ruin your project. The grit of the sandpaper refers to the size of the abrasive particles. The smaller the grit number, the coarser the sandpaper. The lowest grit number is 24, which is more abrasive and would be used for very rough wood jobs. The finer or less abrasive the grit becomes, the larger the number gets.

Sandpaper Grades:
Coarse: 24 – 60 grit (**works better when used with belt or drum sanders)
-Medium: 80 – 120 grit (**good for around-the-house jobs)
-Fine: 150 – 180 grit (**fine grits are used more for polishing/finishing)
-Very Fine: 220 – 240 grit
-Extra Fine: 280 – 320 grit
-Super Fine: 360 and above grit

When to use what type of sandpaper:

  • Smoothing bare wood before painting: Garnet or alumina, 100 – 220 grit
  • Removing excess wood fibers: Garnet, 180 – 320 grit
  • Shaping wood: Garnet, alumina, or zirconia alumina, 80 grit (or lower)
  • Removing flaws in wood: Garnet, 100 grit (or lower)
  • Sanding hardwoods: Alumina, 100 – 220 grit
  • Sanding the sides of a door that sticks: 80 grit
  • Smoothing raw wood before staining: Garnet or alumina, 100 – 150 grit
  • Sanding painted or primed wood (before re-painting): alumina or carbide, 80 grit
  • Sanding floors: Garnet, 80 grit (or lower)
  • Stripping paint on wood: Any type, 100 grit (or lower)
  • Sanding drywall: Any type, 80 – 150 grit
  • Removing rust from metal: alumina, 100 grit (or lower)
  • Sanding grout (for stain removal): Any type, 100 grit

Hope this information helps you the next time you need to sand something!


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