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What is Sandpaper Grit?

What is Sandpaper Grit

Sandpaper is a commonly used home improvement product. However, it is neither sand nor paper. Nowadays, sandpaper is made from cloth or paper backing material coated with abrasive particles like silicon carbide or aluminum oxide.

While sandpaper can be used for various home repair tasks, it is most frequently used to clean and smooth metal or wood to prepare it for finishing or painting. But knowing the project you'll be using it for and the grade of grit that would be most useful for it will help you decide what kind of sandpaper grit you need. This manual will take you step-by-step through each category and help you understand sandpaper grit subtleties.

Sandpaper Grit: What Is It?

Lower numbers indicate larger, coarser grits. Sandpaper grits are sized by gauge number. For instance, #24 or #40 grit sandpaper is highly rough and gritty, but #1,000 grit paper is exceedingly fine and contains tiny abrasive particles.

Almost always, the back of the sandpaper itself has a distinct print of the grit number. Although most people will never use grits at the top or bottom of this scale, grit numbers vary from #24 to #1,000.

How Sandpaper Grit Operates?

Sandpaper with a coarser, or lower-number grit, cuts wood and other materials more quickly and efficiently than sandpaper with a finer grit. It accomplishes this by chopping surface-level fibers. Aggressive scratching is desirable when you remove a lot of material, produce a rounded edge, remove old paint, or eliminate imperfections. Yet, rough sandpaper produces deep gouges.

Very thin sandpaper smoothes the surface at the other end of the range by removing a tiny quantity of material. The smoother the surface, the finer the paper. The worry is that if you move to fine paper too soon, you'll have to sand for a long to attain the desired results.

Moreover, using too-fine paper or sanding the wood too much can burnish or polish the surface. This results in overworked areas that prevent stains and other finishes from absorbing properly. When stained and finished, wood that has been too sanded may look blotchy.

The best way to do this is to start with the highest grit (coarsest sandpaper) that will suit your needs relatively fast, move up to progressively higher grits and papers), and stop when the surface is sufficiently smooth for your tastes.

Things To Consider Before Buying Sandpaper

You need to select the appropriate sandpaper grit to work with sandpaper effectively. According to the paper's coarseness, defined by the size of the abrasive particles utilized, sandpaper grits are classified.

Any surface can be prepared for painting or finishing by sanding it with progressively finer grits until the appropriate smoothness level is achieved. Using too coarse sandpaper will make the surface too rough to paint or finish smoothly. You risk removing delicate details from the furniture. Too-fine sandpaper will require much work and sanding to achieve the desired results. Because of this, selecting the proper sandpaper grit, similar to grinding belts, and applying it properly is an art. You must find the right balance between too coarse and too fine.

Sandpaper Types And Grit Levels

Although many different sandpaper grades are available, most sanding projects require sheets in the following grit ranges:

COARSE – 60 - 80 GRIT

Sandpaper grit in this range easily removes old paint and uneven edges. The machine can also remove enough wood to shape and round edges. Fine details like edges and corners you wish to remain sharp should not be sanded with coarse-grit sandpaper. Moreover, use extreme caution when sanding this veneer plywood because the thin face layers are simple to work through.

MODERATE – 100 - 150 GRIT

The medium range of sandpaper grit gauges is the most popular. With sandpaper grits in this range, it is difficult to get wrong in most applications. You can break down tough materials by exerting extra pressure on your workpiece. Alternatively, you can protect fine materials by reducing pressure. Usually applied to bare wood surfaces, this grit is used.

For wood surfaces that will be painted, a final sanding with 150-grit paper is advised because it leaves a small amount of roughness, or tooth, on the wood surface for the paint to grab onto. It is usually advantageous to have medium-grit sandpaper on hand for any job you work on.

FINE – 180 - 220 GRIT

Fine-grit sandpaper in this range is often used for the second or third sanding and rarely used on the initial pass unless the surface is smooth to the touch. Glossy paint is often roughened with fine-grit sandpaper to prepare for another coat. Never sand bare wood that will be stained frequently on paper coarser than 220 grits. For furniture work, high-quality or ultra-thin sandpaper grits are required.


Ultra-fine sandpaper grit is used on all materials to provide smoothness. Ultra-fine grits are often used on wood to smooth painted surfaces in between applications. Wet sanding uses many finer grits, which produce a thin, gritty slurry that supports the soothing effects of the sandpaper. Even when sanding down solid surfaces and counters, #320 grit sandpaper is one of the first grits used.

Sandpaper Cost

Sandpaper is a cheap commodity available in many sizes and quantities. It is sold in multipacks with six pieces or 24. While some packs have multiple surfaces (different grades), others only contain one grade. 9" x 11" sheets, 3 1/4" x 8 3/4" sheets, mouse-sized sheet pads, and more sizes are available. These packs cost between $2 and $25.


Every hardware store, supercenter, or online retailer should have sandpaper in stock. It is available in grit sizes ranging from fine to coarse. Before purchasing, determine the grit level or the number of sandpaper grades required to finish your job.

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