Sanding Made Simple: Picking the Perfect Grit Sandpaper

We are going to keep this straightforward and simple. There are plenty of blog posts out there that go into a lot of detail about sandpaper. These posts answer all the questions you never asked, like what it’s made out of, how it’s made, how it was invented in the 13th century by the Chinese, and so much more… But that is not why you are here. So, let’s get down to business…  

First thing to remember about sandpaper. The smaller the number, the bigger the grit size. The bigger the girt, the more it will scuff your surface.

The most standard grits you will find are…

  • 40: Course
  • 80: Medium
  • 100: Medium
  • 120: Fine
  • 220: Fine
  • 440: Extra Fine

There are other types of sandpaper, but we are going to stick to these few, as they are the most common.

When would you use each type?

Course: For heavy sanding or to strip paint or stains off wood. Or when cleaning up raw wood like I used on this outdoor bench.

Medium: To remove marks course sandpaper left, or to shape, finish or to use between coats of paint.

Fine: To create a smooth or polished finish. Used to remove minor scratches or scuffs and does not usually leave your surface scratched. You can use it after your last coat of paint before you apply a clear coat, or to remove wood filler when doing projects like this Picture Frame Moulding.

Extra Fine: Used to achieve the smoothest finish.

Something to note, is it is very common, and I even encourage you to “go through the grits”. Meaning starting with a 40 grit to remove the existing paint, then move to an 80 or 100 grit to clean it up, and then use a 120 or 200 grit between coats of paint and ending with 220 or 440 grit before applying your clear coat.

If you are a beginner DIYer, this information is probably plenty to get you started. Just remember a few key takeaways…

  1. The smaller the number the more abrasive.
  2. Depending on your project, plan to “go through the grits”.
  3. Sandpaper was originally created in the 13th century by the Chinese. This is kind of an interesting fact and good to know for useless knowledge trivia.

Depending on the type of sander you are using will depend on what type of sandpaper you should get. This is good sandpaper for an orbital sander. If you want to hand sand, these sanding blocks are great!

Check out this video of a quick visual/ verbal description.

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