The Importance of Sandpaper Grits in Woodworking, Metalworking, and More

The grit of the sandpaper is one of the most crucial elements to take into account when sanding various surfaces. The coarseness or fineness of the abrasive particles used to sand various surfaces is referred to as the grit of the sandpaper. It’s essential to understand sandpaper grits and how to use them if you want to finish any project with a smooth, polished surface. In this post, we’ll look at the various sandpaper grit varieties, their uses, and how to pick the best grit for your job.

Knowledge of Sandpaper Grits

A coated abrasive known as sandpaper has an elastic paper or cloth backing with abrasive particles adhered to the surface. The size or grit of the abrasive particles determines how coarse or fine the sandpaper is.

The degree of abrasiveness of sandpaper is determined by the different grit sizes. The number of abrasive particles per square inch of sandpaper is referred to as grit. The grit is finer, and the surface is smoother, the higher the number. From very coarse (like 24 or 36 grit) to very small grit sizes are possible (such as 1000 or 1200 grit).

Various grits of sandpaper are needed for various applications. For instance, coarser grit sanding paper (like 24 or 36 grit) is appropriate for removing paint or significant amounts of rust from metal surfaces, but finer grit sanding paper (like 400 or 600 grit) is perfect for prepping surfaces for painting or finishing.

How is grit assessed?

The amount of abrasive particles on an inch-square of sandpaper is used to gauge grit. The grit gets coarser with a lower number. For instance, sandpaper with a 40-grit has 40 abrasives per square inch, whereas sandpaper with a 600-grit has 600 abrasives per square inch.

When Used in Sandpaper, How Do Grits Function?

When you sand anything, the abrasive particles scratch the surface, wearing away tiny amounts of the target material. A smoother surface can be achieved by using a finer-grit abrasive. Coarser grits scratch more deeply, but they scrape away material more quickly.

To get a uniform sheen without any rough spots, sandpaper of progressively finer grits is utilized. Removing deeper scratches and achieving a smoother surface is accomplished by working from coarse to fine grit.

The Different Sandpaper Coarseness Levels

There are various varieties of sandpaper grits available, each with its own distinct abrasive qualities. These different sandpaper grits consist of:

Coarse Grits (40-60)

The largest and most aggressive grits found in sandpaper are called coarse grits; they range in size from 40 to 60 grit. These grits are perfect for removing thick layers of material from tough surfaces like wood or metal, like paint or varnish. They can also be used to shape and soften sharp edges on uneven surfaces.

Furthermore useful for shaping and smoothing off jagged edges on materials like stone, masonry, and concrete are coarse grits. It’s crucial to use finer grit to get rid of those scratches and provide a smoother finish because they could leave deep scratches on the surface.

It’s crucial to use coarse grits with caution and use even pressure when sanding to avoid harming the surface. Too much pressure or forceful sanding will quickly wear out the sandpaper, causing uneven sanding and the need for repeated sanding.

Medium Grits (80–120)

The most popular grits in sandpaper are medium grits, which come in sizes ranging from 80 to 120 grit. They are good for smoothing out uneven surfaces that are too fine for coarse grits and are ideal for a variety of activities. In order to prepare surfaces for painting or staining, medium grits are efficient at removing the scratches that coarse grits leave behind.

The removal of saw marks, preparation of the wood for staining, and smoothing out of rough areas make medium-grit sandpaper very helpful in woodworking. They can also be used to sand down tiny flaws, defects, and corrosion from metal and other materials.

Finer Grits (150–180)

Medium grits are followed by fine grits, which range from 150 to 180 grit, when sanding surfaces. They are good for smoothing out surfaces that have already been sanded with medium-grit sandpaper, removing small defects, and preparing surfaces for finishing.

In woodworking, fine-grit sandpaper is especially helpful since it helps to smooth out the wood grain, get rid of saw marks, and get the wood ready for staining or painting. They work well for removing small surface flaws, corrosion, and oxidation from metal and other surfaces.

To prevent scratching or other surface damage while using fine-grit sandpaper, it’s crucial to employ calm, steady strokes and moderate pressure. Uneven sanding and the necessity for extra sanding might result from using a higher grit sandpaper than is necessary. This can also make the sandpaper wear out more quickly. To obtain the intended outcome, it is crucial to select the proper sandpaper for each stage of the sanding process and to utilize it correctly.

– Very Fine Grits (220–240)

Smooth surfaces are best achieved with very fine-grit sandpapers (220–240 grit), which are one step up from fine-grit sandpapers. They work great for sanding down surfaces to get them ready for a fresh coat of paint or varnish.

These sandpapers have widespread application in the woodworking industry, especially for use in between layers of varnish or paint to smooth and polish the surface. Also, you can use them to sand down metal surfaces to get rid of corrosion, oxidation, or minor scratches.

Using very fine grit sandpaper requires minimal pressure and careful, even strokes to obtain a uniformly clean surface. Avoiding over-sanding is also crucial, as a too-smooth surface will not accept the final paint or varnish coat.

Super Fine Grits (320-600)

Before applying the last layer of paint or varnish, superfine grits are perfect for final sanding. They are also appropriate for fragile metals and other sensitive materials, like plastic.

– Ultra-Fine Grits (800–1200)

When polishing and buffing soft and sensitive materials like plastic, metal, and fiberglass, ultra-fine grits are the best choice.

The Micro Grits (1500–2000)

For the final phases of sanding and polishing, microgrits work best since they leave the surface with a mirror-like shine. They can be used to polish plastic, metal, and other materials.

Why Various Sandpaper Grits Are Necessary

Woodworking, metalworking, automotive, glassworking, paint and finishing, drywall sanding, and sanding concrete and masonry are just a few of the many industries that rely on sandpaper grits.


One of the most common uses for sandpaper grits is in woodworking, where different grits are employed for sanding various species of wood. Different sandpaper grits serve different purposes in the woodworking industry, including smoothing surfaces, removing paint, stain, and finish, and priming surfaces for staining or painting.


Sandpaper grits are often used in metalworking to smooth surfaces and remove corrosion. Metalworkers use sandpaper of varying grits to smooth out defects like rust and paint.

The Functioning of Automobiles

Sandpaper grits are also utilized in the automotive industry for purposes such as removing scratches from vehicle bodywork. Sandpaper grits are frequently used in the automotive industry to prepare surfaces for painting.


In order to polish and smooth glass surfaces, extremely fine grits are needed for glassworking. Sandpaper grits are commonly used in the glass industry to polish and smooth edges and surfaces.

Coatings and varnishes

When it comes to painting and finishing, sandpaper grits are used to smooth down surfaces in preparation for the actual painting or finishing process.

Sanding drywall

Sandpaper grits are also used for another type of surface smoothing: drywall sanding.

Concrete Sanding

Finally, coarse grits are necessary when sanding concrete and brickwork.

Grit Selection for Your Work

The task at hand and the material being sanded should inform your choice of grit. In most cases, it’s best to begin with a larger grain and gradually work your way down. You can then finish up the surface, knowing that any rough patches have been removed.

If you need to get rid of old paint or varnish, start with a coarse grit (40–60) and work your way up to a medium (80–120) and finally a fine (320–600) sandpaper (150–220). Use a very fine grit for the final polish (240 to 600).

Sanding a brand-new piece of wood should begin with a medium grit (80 to 120), progress to a fine grit (150 to 220), and then end with a very fine grit (320 or higher) (240 to 600).

Whether you’re working with metal or plastic, always begin with a fine grit (150–220) and work your way up to a very fine grit (240 to 600).

The Sandpaper Grit Scale

It’s crucial to know the different sandpaper grits and the numbers that correspond to them. The grit of sandpaper indicates the average number of abrasive grains per square inch. The finer the abrasive particles and the higher the grit number, the smoother the final product will be.

If you’re unfamiliar with the different grits of sandpaper and the numbers that correspond to them, this handy chart might help:

Sandpaper Grit Abrasive Particles per Square Inch Best used for
Coarse (40-60) 40-60 Removing heavy rust, paint, and rough surfaces
Medium (80-120) 80-120 Smoothing out rough spots and preparing surfaces for finishing
Fine (150-180) 150-180 Sanding between coats of paint and smoothing out the wood grain
Very Fine (220–240) 220-240 Preparing surfaces for staining or painting and sanding finishes
Super Fine (320–600) 320-600 Final sanding before finishing and preparing surfaces for polishing
Ultra-Fine (800-1200) 800-1200 Polishing metals, plastics, and painted surfaces
Micro (1500-2000) 1500-2000 Buffing and polishing surfaces to a high shine

Sandpaper Grit Differences

Despite their identical appearance, sandpaper grits might affect performance. Knowing about sandpaper grits might help you choose one for your project.

The following table outlines some of the main variations among sandpaper grits:

Sandpaper Grit Abrasive Particle Size Roughness Level Best used for
Coarse (40-60) Large particles Very rough Removing heavy rust, paint, and rough surfaces
Medium (80-120) Medium-sized particles Moderately rough Smoothing out rough spots and preparing surfaces for finishing
Fine (150-180) Small particles Less rough Sanding between coats of paint and smoothing out the wood grain
Very Fine (220–240) Fine particles Very smooth Preparing surfaces for staining or painting and sanding finishes
Super Fine (320–600) very fine particles Extremely smooth Final sanding before finishing and preparing surfaces for polishing
Ultra-Fine (800-1200) Microscopic particles Exceptionally smooth Polishing metals, plastics, and painted surfaces
Micro (1500-2000) Nanoscopic particles Ultra-smooth Buffing and polishing surfaces to a high shine

FEPA vs. CAMI Sandpaper Grits Chart

CAMI and FEPA are two different systems for measuring sandpaper grit. CAMI grit sizes are used mainly in the United States, while FEPA grit sizes are used mainly in Europe.

Level Description CAMI FEPA Diameter
40-60 Coarse grit for heavy sanding P60-P80 F24-F36 0.38mm
80-120 Medium grit for initial smoothing P120-P180 F60-F80 0.29mm
150-180 Fine grit for smoothing and removing scratches P220-P240 F100-F120 0.22mm
220-240 Very fine grit for finishing and sanding between coats P320-P360 F150-F180 0.16mm
320-600 Superfine grit for final finishing P400-P600 F220-F280 0.12mm
800-1200 Ultra-fine grit for polishing and buffing P800-P1200 F360-F400 0.09mm
1500-2000 Microgrit for fine polishing and honing P1500-P2000 F600-F800 0.05mm

5 Techniques for Using Sandpaper Grits Like a Pro

Do your DIY projects’ rough and uneven surfaces bore you to tears? Sandpaper grit selection is quite important. Yet, sanding involves more than just picking the appropriate grit. Here are five suggestions for utilizing different sandpaper grits to get a smooth, polished surface.

Appropriate Surface Preparation

Make sure the surface is clear of dust and debris before you begin sanding. A dirty surface might clog your sandpaper and reduce the effectiveness of the sanding operation. To remove any dust or debris, use a clean cloth or a vacuum.

Choose the appropriate grit for the job.

For the required outcomes to be realized, selecting the proper grit is essential. Start with a coarse grit like 40 or 60 for tough surfaces. You’ll get a smoother finish when you move on to finer grits, like 120, 220, or 320. To achieve the necessary level of smoothness, keep in mind to employ increasingly finer grits.

Use consistent pressure when sanding.

Applying unequal pressure to the sandpaper is a common error people make when sanding. This might lead to uneven areas or even gouges in the material. Always use a light touch and consistent pressure, and let the sandpaper do the work. To provide consistent pressure during sanding, it is better to use a sanding block or a sanding sponge.

The Proper Way of the Sand

Sanding should always be done with the material’s grain or pattern in mind. It may be challenging to erase scratches or swirl marks if you sand against the grain. For a smooth finish, adhere to the material’s inherent pattern.

Keep from over-sanding

The material might become uneven and damaged by excessive sanding. Once you’ve reached the desired degree of smoothness or the last grit, stop sanding. It’s important to be patient and not rush the procedure because various materials may require varying degrees of sanding.


Sandpaper grits are essential for smoothing various surfaces. Knowing grits and their uses might help you choose sandpaper for your project. DIY projects can seem professional by following sandpaper grit suggestions.