Working on Wood? Here’s a guide that will help you choose the best sandpaper for the best end result. 

When dealing with sandpaper, there are different grits and grains that can be used on different materials that you are working on to ensure a smooth and easy ride with the best finish for your job. Aluminum Oxide is a very common sandpaper and is great for all types of material – especially hardwoods and surfaces that have been previously painted or have lacquer on them. Aluminum Oxide is affordable and has a long lifespan – you can use it with a power tool or even hand sanding. Gold Aluminum Oxide Hook and Loop sanding discs is a great option due to the fact that it has a special coating over it. This coating helps to stop loading and clogging and enables you to work with a single piece of sandpaper for longer, rather than having to change it frequently. Gold aluminum oxide gives an outstanding scratch pattern and a great finish to projects you are working on. It can be used on a variety of surfaces such as painted surfaces, fillers, lacquer, etc. This material comes in discs, belts, or paper so you can pick the one that is best for the size of the surface you are working on.  When using gold aluminum oxide, the end result can be very natural – which could come in handy if you aren’t looking to stain or paint it.

Zirconia is another type of sanding material and it can last longer than aluminum oxide. If you choose to use zirconia, it is good to know that it works well with cutting more material at a time. Although it is good at removing unwanted wood fast, you may not want to purchase zirconia if you are needing a very detailed or intricate finish. You can also find zirconia in discs, pads, or belts and it can be a little more expensive compared to aluminum oxide. If you are working on a project that involves rough or harsh wood with sharp edges, zirconia is a good choice. 

Along with zirconia and aluminum oxide, there is also a material called silicon carbide. Silicon carbide should be used with light pressure sanding because it is much harder and sharper to the touch. Silicon carbide is good for most surfaces like glass, plastic, metal and it can be used for both softwoods and hardwoods. Silicon carbide and aluminum oxide are similar to one another and are often used in the same projects. Silicon carbide is good for sanding in between coats of wood finish or paint. 

Ceramic is also a material of sandpaper and is used often for bigger jobs. It is used to remove material a lot deeper and faster and is ideal for higher pressure sanding jobs. If you are looking to remove wood stain , paint, or any other spots on the surface of the wood, ceramic is a great option for you. It can remove very rough or hard to get spots off of the project you are working on. Another reason you may want to choose ceramic is because it can prevent overheating and burning of the wood. Although it can be more expensive than other material, it tends to last longer than aluminum oxide due to its durability. 

Nonwoven abrasives are a mix of aluminum oxide and silicon carbide and they come in belts, discs, wheels, etc. Nonwoven abrasives can be used on plenty of surfaces and are great for prepping a surface before adding a finish like a stain or paint. These can be used for both hardwood and softwoods, however if you choose to use them on a softwood, make sure to be very light and gentle. Nonwoven abrasives are also used for wet surfaces and will provide a smooth finish to your project.

Now that we have covered all of the types of material of sandpaper, we can go over grit numbers. Once you have found which material is best for you, we need to consider the grit that will benefit you the most. It is important to choose the right one in order to get a smooth and beautiful finish. 

Grit Numbers

 800 / Ultra Fine

600, 500 , 400 / Super Fine

360 , 320 / Extra Fine

240 / Very Fine

220, 180 , 150 / Very Fine

120, 100 / Fine 

80 / Medium 

60, 50 , 40 / Coarse

36, 24 / Extra Coarse

  • Extra Coarse grit is best for removing stock and old coatings. (P24 - P36)
  • Coarse grit is best for removing paint and rounding out sharp edges. (P60 - P80)
  • Medium grit is best for prep work, removing light debris, and finishes. (P100 - P150)
  • Fine grit is best for sanding in between coats and finishes. (P180 - P220)
  • Ultra fine is best for polishing wood. (P400 - P800) 

Now that we have gone over the material and grit size, we can go over the best tools for you. Although hand sanding can be good for small projects, it can get very tiring and time consuming. There are many power tools on the market that can be beneficial for you. Sanding belts will be your best friend if you have a larger project or surface to work on. Sanding discs are an easy option because you can switch out the discs faster when needed. Make sure to use the correct grit size in order to avoid any unwanted damage. Sandpaper sheets are great if you want to achieve a more detailed finish. Nonwoven pads/wheels are good for polishing and if you aren’t looking to remove a lot of material.

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