Choosing the Right Grit of Sandpaper

Using the proper sandpaper is the key to a successful project. The right sandpaper can make a job faster and easier. Soft plastic and metal are vulnerable to permanent damage if the wrong sandpaper is used.

Sandpaper is made by bonding an abrasive material to a paper or cloth backing. Sandpaper comes in sheets, rolls, bands, and discs. Sandpaper designed for use with power tools generally has a heavier backing than sandpaper intended for hand use.

a solid foundation

The material that is used to hold the abrasive grit is called a backing. There are several types of backup available, each with its own qualities.

Paper is the most common backing material for sandpaper. Sandpaper with a stiff paper backing is good for large, flat areas or for use with power tools. Sandpaper with a more flexible paper backing is better for curved or textured surfaces.

Waterproof backing is used for wet/dry applications. A waterproof adhesive keeps the abrasive material attached to the backing when wet sanding or using a lubricant.

Cloth backing is used to create highly flexible sandpaper. Cloth-backed sandpaper is best for use with highly contoured or detailed surfaces.

true grain

The level of abrasiveness of the sandpaper is called the “grit.” The grit grade is usually printed on the sandpaper backing using the following scale:

40-60 Thick

80-100 Medium Coarse

120-150 Medium

180-200 fine

240 very good

Sandpapers greater than 600 grit are useful for finish sanding on soft surfaces.

But what is it made of?

The abrasive material used to make sandpaper is made from finely ground minerals. Different minerals are used to sand different materials.

Glass grit sandpaper uses quartz crystals as the abrasive. Glass grit sandpaper is smooth and works well on painted surfaces.

Garnet sand is reddish in color and is the most common sandpaper abrasive. Maroon grit sandpaper works well on a wide range of materials.

Aluminum oxide grit sandpaper lasts longer than glass or garnet. It is typically used for sanding metal surfaces and with power sanders.

Silicon carbide grit sandpaper can be used for wet and dry sanding. Silicon carbide sandpaper can be used with hardwood, plastic and metal surfaces. This sandpaper is also great for smoothing the edges of glass.

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