I know for some of you that this may not be my most interesting blog article, but the topic is something I get asked about quite frequently, so I feel as though I need to spend some time discussing it. Sandpaper grit numbers - really exciting stuff, huh? The sandpaper section can be so confusing when you're standing in front of it in the hardware store, but it doesn't have to be. Read on to educate yourself about the various options!
First, lets talk about brand. I'm all about saving money, but sandpaper is one area where you really can't skimp on. Generic is absolutely different from name brand. Companies like 3M spend a lot of money testing and tweaking their sandpaper products and it shows. Simply from personal experience, the generic sandpapers are a lesson in frustration that I choose not to partake in. Save yourself a lot of headaches and go with a name brand sandpaper because the paper lasts longer and is more effective.
Second, lets talk about shape. Sandpaper comes in 9 x 11 sheets rectangular sheets, 3 x 9 rectangular sheets, blocks, rolls and small sizes all in between. The larger 9 x 11 sheets are for general use, but I like to use them for my hand or orbital sander because I can cut them to the same size as my electric sander. The 3 x 9 rectangular sheets or mesh sheets are usually for pole sanders used in sanding drywall, but they can also be used for smaller jobs done by hand (you just have to cut them down). The sanding blocks and sponges are great for doing small detail work like furniture or molding that you may have to do by hand as the block or sponge fits securely in the palm of your hand. The smaller rolls of sandpaper is a cost effective option for use when creating your own sanding blocks when sanding by hand or for use of the smaller rotary sanders like a Dremel. Check how much sandpaper you need and how you're using the sandpaper to determine the appropriate size and shape to get the job done effectively and in a cost efficient way. Its usually better to buy bulk packs as I've found they generally save you money when doing lots of projects or larger scale projects that will require a large amount of sanding.
Third, lets talk about grit number. The higher the number the finer the grit. The finer the grit the smoother the finish. Here is a list of grit numbers and their purpose for easy to follow info:
Grit Numbers 36-100: strips paint, varnish or rust from a material, shapes and level wood, Can damage wood and remove layers from a surface - Use with care!
Grit Numbers 100 - 180: prepares bare surfaces, smooths, removes scratches, evens out wood, usually the second step after stripping paint
Grit Number 180 - 320: prepares for final finish, smooths wood grain, can also be used between finishes
Drywall Mesh: usually used for sanding drywall, but can be used between coats on other materials, too - generally gives a fine, smooth finish - lasts longer and can be cleaned. I don't like the way it feels in my hand, so I generally don't use it.
Steel Wool: great for achieving a fine smooth finish between coats, since its pliable - great for getting into nooks and crannies
So there you have it! You're go-to guide to sandpaper! For most household and decor projects, this is all the info you'll ever need. Keep informed of all our design ideas at PaperCanvasEtc by liking us on Facebook and as I always say - Happy Designing!