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Best Sandpaper For Wood: Choosing The Abrasive Grain And Grit

Best Sandpaper For Wood

It's more complex to select the best sandpaper for wood sanding tasks than just any old sheet. Different grit levels impact how well the abrasives sand the surface, and other abrasive grain types perform better with particular kinds of wood.

The best abrasives for various wood types, such as hardwood, furniture, cabinets, etc., are recommended at the end of the article. A brief reference explaining the various abrasive grain types and grit levels is provided below.

ABRASIVE GRAINS FOR WOOD

Wood comes in a variety of rough grains. Each one is effective for a variety of tasks, on a range of woods, etc. Each material can sand different types of surfaces, each with its special ability. Selecting the right type for you will be made easier if you know which ones work best for what kinds of projects.

1. ALUMINIUM OXIDE

Because of its cost and adaptability, aluminum oxide sandpaper is one of the most used varieties. This sandpaper works incredibly well with most woods, metals, plasterboard, and surfaces with previously applied paint. It also works well with any hardwood, such as oak, beech, or ash.

Due to their longevity, aluminum oxide sandpaper sheets can be used on nearly any surface for optimal results. Aluminum oxide is best used for power sanding, but it can also be used for hand sanding. In addition, it has a long shelf life and is inexpensive, making it a very popular kind of sandpaper.

Most wood sanding applications can be handled by aluminum oxide, which is a reasonably priced option.

2. ALUMINUM OXIDE GOLD STEARATE

Sanding wood and woodworking use gold aluminum oxide stearate abrasives, which are highly popular products. Because you won't have to keep changing blocked sandpaper, the stearate coating over the aluminum oxide grains minimizes loading and speeds up the sanding process.

This substance works well on lacquers, paint, wood, and fillers. To finish your sanding task, this material typically has a backing that stays in place whether you hold the sheet or lay it on a disc or belt. When using an orbital sander, most people always reach for hook and loop sanding disc or sandpaper coated in gold stearate.

For higher-profile and more polished sanding jobs, the cut that gold-stearated aluminum oxide delivers to the various surfaces is nearly perfect and produces a superb scratch pattern.

This sanding material is great for a range of jobs. It leaves paint tasks, fiberglass projects, and raw wood projects exceptionally beautifully finished. If you use this sandpaper on furniture, you can achieve a beautiful look without using paint or, if you'd like, wood stain.

3. ZIRCONIA

Zirconia, sometimes referred to as zirc, zircon, or zirconium, works well with a variety of materials, including wood. If you plan to use zirconia for power sanding, you can get it in discs, pads, and belts when you shop for it.

The particles will disintegrate as you sand the wood substance, much like aluminum oxide. Although the way the particles break down is similar, it usually lasts a lot longer than aluminum oxide. It costs more than aluminum oxide as well.

When sanding rough wood, the grit on zirconia works great for eliminating jagged edges. It will assist in smoothing out any jagged edges before painting or leaving the product unpainted. Zirconia is also frequently used to sand ceramic finishes off wood floors, including hardwood.

Zirconia works well for quickly removing several layers of wood, but more is needed for more intricate work.

4. SILICON CARBIDE

Compared to aluminum oxide, silicon carbide has a significantly harder texture and is sharper to the touch. This is the hardest grain that resembles diamonds the most for abrasive grains.


This material works well for light-pressure sanding applications on surfaces like glass, plastic, and metal. Sanding ceramic finishes off wood floors or other wood furniture is a great use for it. This abrasive works well on both hardwood and softwood, unlike some others that are better suited for only one.

Silicon carbide is often used to sand between coats of paint or wood finish. Despite these variations, because of their similar performance, silicon carbide and aluminum oxide sanding sheets are frequently used in the same sanding projects.

5. CERAMIC

Another material that works well for cutting wood with high-pressure sanding is ceramic. Ceramic sanding material is available as discs and belts. Most people use this substance when attempting to quickly sand down deeper into wood surfaces or while working on larger projects.

One primary reason people select this material is to remove anything from the wood's surface. The material's abrasive nature works well to remove wood stains, paint, primers, and rough patches.

The abrasives have a much longer lifespan than aluminum oxide. Additionally, ceramic operates far more coolly, which makes it perfect for sanding tasks when the user wants to prevent overheating the surface material. Although it can be more expensive than other types of sandpaper, it's ideal for tough sanding.

NON-WOVEN ABRASIVE MATERIALS

Nonwoven abrasives are incredibly affordable and suitable for practically any surface. They work well for polishing and smoothing wood, as well as cleaning and preparing surfaces for paint or wood stains.

A distinctive feature of non-woven abrasives is their ability to obtain a superior sanding finish on a wet surface. Hardwoods work better with them than softwoods, but if you're careful, you can still use them on softwoods.

These nonwoven abrasives combine silicon carbide and aluminum oxide elements to provide a gorgeous finish. You can choose how you want to sand because they are available as belts, discs, pads, flap discs, and flap wheels.

TOP ABRASIVE GRIT FOR WOOD

In addition to selecting the kind of sandpaper for your project, you also need to take the grit number into account. Choosing the right grit number can make the difference between a surface that is smooth and free of splinters and one that is rough.

Your project will be faultless and have the desired absolutely smooth surface if you use the right grit number.

The size of the abrasive grains woven into the sandpaper is correlated with the grit number. The grit number of sandpaper is designated by the Coated Abrasives Manufacturing Institute (CAMI).

GUIDE TO MACRO GRIT SANDPAPER

These are the surfaces that each sort of grit can be used on if you're thinking about utilizing macro-grain sandpaper:

  • VERY FINE GRAIN (150, 180, OR 220): Very fine grain works well for sanding raw wood. 
  • FINE GRAIN (100 OR 120): Excellent for preparing wood for finishing and effective at removing water stains. 
  • MEDIUM GRAIN (80): Excellent for sanding surfaces that need sandpaper with a medium to coarse texture; it may also be used to sand wood prior to applying paint or lacquer.
  • COARSE GRAIN (40, 50, OR 60): This grit is ideal for a fast DIY project that involves removing material, dirt, or debris from a surface. It is the best grit for this purpose. 
  • EXTRA COARSE GRAIN (24, 30, OR 36): ON both hard and softwood surfaces, this type of grain removes materials more quickly than coarse grain.

GUIDE TO MICRO GRIT SANDPAPER

The CAMI classifications for micro grit sandpaper are explained here, along with an outline of the kinds of tasks that can use each grit number:

  • FINE (800 OR 1000): Ideal for extensive surface polishing on raw wood and extremely delicate sanding tasks 
  • HIGH GRADE (400, 500, OR 600): Ideal for polishing and eliminating spots from wood surfaces, although it is unable to remove material 
  • EXTRA FINE (320 OR 360): This is the best option for starting to polish any kind of wood, soft or hard. 
  • VERY FINE (240): Excellent for sanding plasterboard and in between coats of paint.

GRIT ORDER

Using the appropriate grit series is crucial when sanding any surface. This entails beginning with sandpaper that has a lower grit number (coarser abrasives) and gradually changing it out for higher grit numbers (finer abrasives).

More material will be removed, and coarser abrasives will leave deeper scratches on the surface. Using a finer abrasive after you've leveled the surface as much as needed may help smooth out the scratches. Then, it will be even smoother with a finer granularity. In theory, you could use a single fine grit for the whole sanding procedure, but doing so would take a very long time and a lot more sandpaper.

WOOD SANDING EQUIPMENT

Sanding everything by hand is only required if you choose to. If employing one is something you're considering, these are the most widely used wood sanding tools available.

  • SHEETS OF SANDPAPER

Reliable sandpaper sheets are always a good choice for the majority of wood sanding applications and for doing some of the most intricate work. Using a sanding block or sanding sponge with sandpaper can achieve far more level surfaces and avoid knuckle strain.

  • SANDING BELTS

Sanding belts are fantastic for sanding big surfaces like plasterboard and other home improvement work. For plasterboard, you should use 220-grit sandpaper because anything less than that could harm your walls.

For wood furniture, a 150-grit sandpaper is necessary. When you reach the raw wood, you will sand with the sanding belt. For the final touches, you will use finer sandpaper.

  • SANDING DISCS 

Replacing the pads during various sanding tasks will be simpler if you use a self-adhesive sand disc.

Additionally, floor sanding discs can sand any kind of wood for a hardwood floor, strip and refinish hardwood floors, or even concrete. They can also be used on other materials, including granite, paint, stone, and glass.

  • NONWOVEN SCUFF PADS

When doing rapid hand sanding tasks, use nonwoven scuff pads to reduce the amount of sanding required through a given surface area. They work really well when finishing tiny wood projects.

SUGGESTED WOOD SANDING SANDPAPER GRAINS

  1. SANDPAPER FOR DRYWALL

Sanding drywall is best done with aluminum oxide sandpaper grits of 120–150. We advise using a hand sander or pole sander to ensure uniform pressure on the spackle and plasterboard.

  1. HARDWOOD FLOOR SANDPAPER

For the majority of hardwood floor sanding applications, silicon carbide is advised, particularly for hardwood floors covered in paint, polyurethane, shellac, or varnishes. Sanding belts and aluminum oxide floor sandpaper can also be utilized. However, silicon carbide will work better for larger tasks.

Heavy stock removal on hardwood floors works best with zirconia floor sanding belts. Ceramic is also a popular option for sanding exotic and prefinished hardwood floors and for heavy stock removal.

  1. SANDPAPER FOR VARNISH REMOVAL

We advise using silicon carbide-based sandpaper to remove varnish from wood floors, paneling, furniture, and other surfaces. Although silicon carbide's grains persist longer, aluminum oxide can also be used.

Furthermore, non-woven abrasives, such as our Easy Strip and Clean abrasive drums and discs, are designed to remove varnish incredibly well without harming the underlying substance.

  1. SANDPAPER FOR PAINT REMOVAL ON WOOD

To remove paint from wood, we suggest using products like Easy Strip and Clean, silicon carbide, or aluminum oxide.

  1. SANDPAPER FOR CABINETS

Aluminum oxide sandpaper is what you should use for solid wood cabinets.

Silicon carbide and aluminum oxide sandpaper are the best options for sanding composite wood cabinets.

  1. SANDPAPER FOR DECKS

Aluminum oxide is the best option for the majority of wood decks. We advise using a handheld belt sander, orbital sander, or an aluminum oxide sanding band on a linear grinder instead of hand sanding decks, as it may take the entire summer and strain your shoulder.

  1. SANDPAPER FOR SOFTWOODS

The abrasive products made of aluminum oxide grains produce the finest results when sanding soft woods such as pine, spruce, redwood, fir, and cedar.

  1. SANDPAPER FOR HARDWOODS

Hardwoods such as birch, cherry, mahogany, oak, maple, or ash can be smoothly sanded using any of the abrasive grains listed above. For larger projects, we suggest using non-loading sandpaper, such as ceramic or silicon carbide.

It is highly recommended to use a sanding belt or disc cleaning stick to remove the gummed-up material from hardwoods, as they are known to load sandpaper.

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