Sandpaper: Picking the Right Grit

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Let’s Say you just finished building a really great project and are ready to sand it down… Or maybe you came across an amazing dresser but it was painted the color of your 3-year olds vomit from last winter and you need to sand off all that nasty paint but have no idea where to start… or maybe you just painted a hutch you poured your heart and soul into and now it feels bumpy instead of having a smooth finish. So you jump in your car and head to Home Depot only to discover a large aisle with lots of different kinds of sandpaper…. Now what do you do?

No worries! Today we are going to teach you all we know about the different grits of sandpaper and what each one should be used for!

SANDPAPER

The Most Important Thing To Remember About Sandpaper is:
The Lower The Grit Number The More Coarse the Paper Is!
Likewise:
The Higher The Grit Number The More Fine the Paper Is!

  • 30 Grit Sandpaper: This is the lowest grit and there is a very slim chance you would ever use this on a project as it is hard to find and made for metal – think stripping paint off a car or sanding down Bondo.
  • 60 Grit Sandpaper: This grit is used for rough material removal and paint removal. Examples would be taking paint off an old dresser or sanding down two uneven pieces of planking to be even and smooth.
  • 80-100 Grit: 100 grit is most common and used for light material removal and shaping. Examples would be sanding seams, sanding out light paint flecks or removing sanding marks from using the 60 grit. 80-100 grit is also used for rounding corners or taking edges off of something, such as a table or bookshelves.
  • 120-150 Grit: This grit is a finish sand before painting. This grit allows the paint to bite into the wood, and gets rid of the really coarse scratches from the previous sandpaper used.
  • 180 Grit: This grit is a finish sand before staining/finishing wood. This grit will smooth it up across the surface so you don’t have marks from the 100-120 grit. It provides for a much smoother finish.
  • 220: Sand finish between coats of paint/lacquer (or polyurethane).
  • 320: Sand finish between coats of paint/lacquer (or polyurethane).
  • 400: Sand finish between coats of paint/lacquer (or polyurethane).
  • 600-2000:  These grits are rarely used in DIY. These grits are used to take off a light coat or to put tiny scratches in your paint/clear coat so a new layer of finish can be applied (You can also use Mineral Spirits or Paint Thinner for this).
    This grit is also used to wet sand/buff scratches on your car.

SANDING SPONGES

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Sanding sponges are just like sandpaper… in sponge form! Which means you can use them with water for a “wet sand”, and they don’t fall apart! I actually prefer to use the sponge over paper if I am sanding by hand. I just feel like I have a better grasp on the sponge and it doesn’t tear up as easily as the paper. In between coats of paint or right before my final topcoat – I always sand with a high grit sponge! These are available at your local hardware store in Medium (about 180 grit); and Fine (about 320-400 grit). NOTE: The longer these sponges are used, the finer the “grit” becomes on them, so if you have a delicate project, wash out an old sponge and use that sponge for your project!

Now you can pick the right sandpaper grit with confidence! Let us know if you have any other “gritty” questions!

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Hey there! We are Spencer and Amanda, a DIY husband and Wife team, sharing projects we build and create together for our home. Since buying our home in 2007 we have had the saying that Spencer builds it and makes it work and Amanda makes it look good. We hope you will stick around because we always have projects in the works!

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Comments

  1. Hello, thanks for great sharing. It’s really helpful for me. I just wondering do you think between 100 grit and 80 grit sandpaper, which one is better for floor sanding?
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