different types of sandpaper

You have a project that requires sanding, but which sandpaper is right for your needs? Choosing the right grit is more important than most people realize. What is the finest grit of sandpaper? What grit of sanding paper for wood is better? How about metal? This guide will answer those questions and more. First, it's important to understand what sandpaper is and the different grit materials and numbers. 

What Is Sandpaper?

Sandpaper is a special craft paper with an abrasive substance on one side. The abrasive substance is attached firmly with glue. People may sand objects by hand or with special tools. In addition to there being different grits, there are various sizes and types. For instance, there are larger sandpaper sheets for sanding heads that attach to poles. Also, there are angled or circular sandpaper discs that stick to power tools. 

Sandpaper comes with a grit number grade. Many sanding projects require a coarser grit at the beginning and a finer grit at the end. This is because finer grits helps to remove grooves or roughness left by coarser sanding products.

Why Is Sandpaper Grit Number Important?

The main reason why the right grit is critical is to avoid surface damage. Also, it's important to avoid an unsatisfactory aesthetic result. For example, if the grit is too coarse for polishing wood, it can leave grooves instead of smoothness. This can make it harder to paint or may make it look bad. Also, some types of metal shouldn't be sanded with too coarse of sandpaper.

What Is Sandpaper Made Of?

There are several abrasive materials used to make sandpaper grains. For example, one material that may be suitable for metal may not be suitable for softer woods. Choosing a material depends on the project, which you'll learn more about in upcoming sections. These are the most common sandpaper materials:

  • Garnet
  • Flint
  • Aluminum oxide
  • Emery
  • Silicon carbide
  • Zirconia alumina

Understanding Sandpaper Grits

What are the different grits of sandpaper? There are several different sandpaper grit charts online. However, it's easier to quickly learn the key points of different sandpaper grits. This makes it simpler to select the right sandpaper grit for your project. Sandpaper comes with a number, which indicates the coarseness or fineness of the grit. Higher numbers indicate a finer grit, and smaller numbers are for coarser sandpaper. Most have CAMI scale numbers. While FEPA numbers are not identical matches to CAMI numbers, there are similar options. This section is for CAMI grit classes and numbers, which range between 24 and 1,000.

Extra Coarse

This grit range includes numbers 24 through 36. For heavier projects, extra-coarse sandpaper may be an option. It's commonly used for sanding floors with a drum sander. You may also use it in some cases to remove varnish or paint.


Coarse sandpaper grit numbers are 40 through 50 or 60. People usually use coarse sandpaper to remove stubborn finishes from some surfaces.


Medium-grit sandpaper is usually 80. However, a 60-grit piece of sandpaper may also be suitable for some projects. It's useful for removing rust from some types of metal. Also, it can be used for shaping or removing wood planing marks.


Fine-grit sandpaper numbers usually range between 100 and 220. If the number is closer to 200, it may also be labeled as very fine. Finer sandpapers can smooth out scratches and may be suitable for some finishing tasks.

Extra Fine

Sandpaper numbers between 240 and 600 are extra fine or super fine. They are often used for polishing tasks and between coats of varnish or paint.

Ultra Fine

What is the finest grit sandpaper? Ultra-fine sandpaper is the finest. When the grit is between 800 and 1,000, it falls into this category. It's used for polishing surfaces that need a smooth finish or may be susceptible to damage with anything coarser.

Choosing Sandpaper Grit for Different Surfaces

Perhaps you need to sand drywall or wood. Another person may need to sand metal. The right sandpaper for metal, wood, and other materials varies.

What Grit of Sandpaper to Use for Wood

What grit of sandpaper for wood is best? That depends on the project. What grit of paper for sanding floors is good? If you're sanding hardwood floors to refinish them, you'll likely need a grit that's extra coarse. What grit of sandpaper for painted wood is better? For removing a tougher or thicker finish, you can use coarse sandpaper or a tougher medium option. However, you should finish off wood sanding with a fine grit.

If the surface should be completely smooth, extra-fine or ultra-fine sandpaper grits are ideal. For example, the highest grit of sandpaper is great for polishing a thick wood surface. Someone wondering what grit of sandpaper for wood furniture is better may benefit from using this type at the end. For wood sanding, look for the right sandpaper material as well. Aluminum oxide, silicon carbide and garnet are more suitable for wood than some other grit materials.

What Grit of Sandpaper to Use for Metal and Plastic Chrome

What grit of sandpaper for metal is better? Different grits of sandpaper work better for different metal projects. What grit of sandpaper to sand a car is ideal? It's better to consult an auto body mechanic for your specific type of car and project. You may need multiple types. For example, one guide suggests 180-grit sandpaper to remove rust and surface damage. After that, the recommendation is to finish it off with 320-grit paper to smooth it. 

What grit of sandpaper for plastic chrome is better? Some people choose to sand down and paint over plastic chrome. Experts recommend starting with about 120-grit sandpaper. Be sure to also use the right sandpaper material for metal or plastic. Zirconia alumina is good for removing burrs. Aluminum oxide is ideal for alloy steel and bronze, and emery is good for steel polishing or removing corrosion. For plastic, silicon carbide is suitable.

What Grit of Sandpaper to Use for Drywall

What grit of sandpaper for walls is better? What grit of sandpaper for painting is right? The answer to these questions often depends on the surface. A common project is interior walls, which are usually made of drywall today. What grit of paper for sanding drywall is suitable? When you're sanding drywall, you'll want a fine grit. 

What grit of sandpaper for painting is better? About 100 to 120 are the grit numbers to look for if you're repainting drywall. Fine sandpaper helps rough up drywall surfaces that were previously painted. You can sand by hand or use an orbital sander. Which materials are right for drywall? Both aluminum oxide and garnet work well since they're open-coat papers that don't clog. However, aluminum oxide is better since it wears down slower. 

Find All Types of Sandpaper at True Value

Now that you know the importance of sandpaper grit and how to choose the right one, you're ready to start shopping. Remember that many projects require two or more coarseness levels to produce a satisfactory result. Find the sandpaper you need for hand sanding or sanding with power tools at your nearest True Value store.