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Wet Sanding Vs Dry Sanding

Wet Sanding Vs Dry Sanding

An essential part of the refinishing process is sanding. Which should you use if you have the option to wet or dry sand your project? Both approaches offer advantages and disadvantages, so consumers must understand what they need to make an informed choice. Check out this article on the differences between wet and dry sanding.

Wet Sanding

Wet sanding is typically chosen when the process aims to produce a surface finish that resembles a mirror. Water and abrasive pads or sandpapers are used to remove the microscopic layer of the paint.

Dry Sanding

Dry sanding, which encompasses both manual and mechanical processes, refers to removing moisture from a surface partially coated with paint or another surface covering. Sanding without moisture is called "dry sanding," which involves manual and machine sanding.

Dry vs. Wet Sanding

Both dry and wet sanding contribute to smoothing an object's surface, although in different ways. While not always necessary, mixing wet and dry sand is necessary for various activities. Even though they are frequently paired together, the two have some variances.

  • The evident difference is that the sandpaper is entirely dry when dry sanding is used. The sandpaper will be lubricated with water or another liquid, typically a detergent when using the wet method.
  • Dry will be harsher, especially when using sandpaper with a lower grain. This allows you to shape your workpiece or drastically smooth out uneven areas. In a later step of the procedure, wet sandpaper is used to enhance the object's shine or to prepare for buffing and polishing.
  • The application procedure is another crucial distinction between the two. The majority of surfaces require tiny circular strokes during dry sanding. As you do this, you'll use pressure to sand the material to your specifications.
  • In contrast to dry sandpaper, wet sandpaper prevents loading, which occurs when the paper becomes gummed up with the surface material being removed. As a result of the liquid lubrication and the unique construction of the wet paper's abrasive side, the debris is pushed away rather than adhering to the abrasives.

Wet and dry sanding accomplish the same goal of removing material to produce a smoother surface. However, wet sanding takes a lot longer and produces a surface even smoother than the one achieved by dry sanding.

There are further variations. Water is used in wet sanding but not in dry sanding. Sanding, while wet, is less messy. Power tools are widely used for dry sanding. However, the main distinction—and the reason you'd pick one method over the other is the degree of smoothness of the outcome.


In a nutshell, dry sanding is used for drywall or woodworking, whereas wet sanding is used for automotive refinishing. It would help if you didn't debate which method is superior in this wet vs dry sanding debate because both are necessary and serve different purposes. However, wet sanding is an option if you want to sand metals directly. You can use WD-40 in this instance in place of water. The paper will benefit from a thorough soak.
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