Sandpaper: Guide for Beginners


Smoothing out all the finer details about Sandpaper in this helpful guide (2 Minute Read)

When it comes to smoothing out surfaces, scraping off paint or simply creating the perfect finish, there’s one sheet everyone turns to – sandpaper. 


A Type of coated abrasive consisting of multiple sheets of paper or cloth, glued together with abrasive material covering the one face. The prototype for sandpaper originated in 13th-Century China, when crushed shells and sand were glued to parchments using natural gum. Other materials used throughout history include glass and even shark skin.



Another facet to keep in mind is the type of sandpaper you’ll need to use. The various types of sandpaper serve a wide range of different uses.

  • Aluminium Oxide - The most common choice for both machine or hand-sanding
  • Ceramic - Reddish-brown in colour, more costly but very durable and best for use with power sanders, especially where deep wood removal is required
  • Garnet - Reddish / Golden –brown, commonly sold in sheets and less expensive, provides a finer finish
  • Silicon Carbide - Blue-grey / Black in colour, less likely to clog, ideal for wet and dry surfaces such as metal, between coats of finish or for polishing smooth surfaces


Sandpaper follows a numerical rating according to the size of the grit particles. A lower number indicates a coarser grit, while a higher number indicates a much finer sandpaper.

TIP: It’s a good idea to start with the roughest grit of sandpaper your job requires, and working your way up to finer grits as you go along.

Black Sandpaper

24 - 36 GRIT For removing thick layers of paint or rust
40 GRIT For projects requiring heavy sanding work
60 GRIT For use after 40-grit, on surface with less layers of paint or varnish
80 GRIT For smoothing out surfaces or removing minor imperfections
100 GRIT For smoothing previously painted surfaces, or previously-sanded surfaces
150 GRIT For de-glossing melamine or previously painted surfaces & final sanding
180 - 240 GRIT` For removing scratches caused by coarser grit sanding, or for light sanding between layers of paint
320 GRIT For wet or dry use, polishing & smoothing out between layers of varnish
600 - 2000 GRIT Usually for wet use, for polishing painted surfaces


Man Using Sandpaper

  • Create a quick, handy woodworking file by gluing sandpaper around a paint stirring stick – then write the sandpaper grit on the handle for quick identification. You can create a few of these in varying grits for an entire arsenal of various sanding files.
  • Put duct tape on the backing of sandpaper, then cut into various sized strips for sanding in tight spots. This will prevent the sandpaper backing from tearing so easily.
  • When sanding along a glue joint on wood, lightly rub a pencil over the joint area. This will help monitor which areas have already been sanded and how much, and prevents the folly of over sanding.
  • Always sand with the grain, as even the slightest scratches across the grain are obvious, especially after staining.
  • Lay down a scrap piece of carpet, so that when you flip over the piece of wood you’ve just sanded, you don’t scratch the freshly-sanded surface while smoothing out the other side.
  • Use fine-grit sandpaper to remove light scratches or stains from suede shoes.
  • Use a sanding disc that’s wider than the pot, to put under the base of pot plants you want to keep away from slugs.
  • Cut through a fine-grit sheet of sandpaper with an old pair of scissors to sharpen them up.
  • Got smooth slippery soles on your shoes? Use sandpaper to roughen them up and keep yourself from slipping.

Never get caught in a rough spot. If you’re still stuck on what sandpaper is best for your project, then get to your nearest BUCO. With a wide variety of products available as well as expert friendly advice, it’s sure to be smooth sailing for your next project.

Find your nearest BUCO here

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