Sandpaper grit guide - HSS Hire


Sandpaper Grit: The Complete Guide

May 2nd 2023

A More Efficient Mode of Sanding 

Sanding with the right sandpaper grit is a great way to improve the overall aesthetic of your old and withered floorboards to eliminate rough edges, give them a smooth finish and a new lease of life. And with a wide range of sanding tools available to help you achieve this, there is much more to sanding than simply a single piece of sandpaper.

In determining the right type of grit you’ll need for your sanding project, it’s important that you fully understand just what exactly it is, how it functions, and how it is used with different materials, in order to realise a more effective sanding process.

In order for you to make the most of our competitively priced equipment for hire, this handy guide from our HSS sanding experts will explain:

  • What exactly is sandpaper grit?
  • The meaning of grit numbers and their importance
  • How to choose the right type of sandpaper for your project
  • How to save yourself time and money by using the right sanding equipment

With a plethora of sanding tools available from HSS Hire, often available to hire on the same day, we can help your sanding project run much more smoothly.

What is sandpaper grit and how does it affect the usage? 

So, what exactly is sandpaper grit? Put simply, the grit number determines the coarseness of the sandpaper, which is defined by the size of the abrasive grains on the surface. The level of coarseness you will be using will depend entirely on the type of surface and material you are working with.

Coarser grits are an effective way to wear down whatever surface you are sanding more quickly, but can leave minor imperfections (or even deep scratches) in the material, which are then removed by sanding down with finer grits – this is what we call in the industry, ‘going through the grits’.

In other words, simply using only coarse sandpaper isn’t necessarily going to get the job done to the highest standard, and can indeed cause major problems. 

With a wide range of grits available, it is important that anyone undertaking a new sanding project has a good understanding of grit size when it comes to effective sanding – which can often mean the difference between an unattractive rough surface and smooth, rounded edges.

What does grit number actually mean? 

When it comes to grit numbers, they are categorised into grades, and increase in easy-to-understand standard intervals, so as not to confuse the customer.

In simple terms, a higher grit number correlates with a finer grit, and vice versa. Coarse grits progress from 24 to 30 to 36, while fine grits rise in increments from 600 to 800 to 1,000 and beyond, for example.

Take a look at this handy table that simplifies the importance of grit numbers, and their appropriate material uses, to ensure that you are using the correct sandpaper in your project.

Grit Description
Extra coarse Used for preliminary and rough sanding on hardwood floors with a drum sander.
Very fine This grit is used to scuff-sand lacquer, polyurethane, and other finishes between coats.
Coarse Used to sand coats of paint off wood, or to sand out deep gouges with a belt for disk sander.
Extra-fine This grit is used to sand finishes of flat surfaces prior to polishing.
Medium Used with a belt or orbital sander to prepare wood for coats of finish.
Super-fine Used to polish finishes on wood and metal. This grit is also used in wet sanding.
Fine This is the best sandpaper for utility. It is used to sand drywall, rough up painted surfaces, and smooth out scratches.
Ultra-fine If you are looking for ultra-smooth polishing of wood and metal, this is the grit to use.

sandpaper grit - HSS Hire

How to choose the right sandpaper for the material (and desired effect) 

In order to correctly use sandpaper, it is essential that you understand the importance of selecting the right grit for the material you intend to work on.

Generally, when you are preparing any surface for painting, using the aforementioned method of ‘going through the grits’ to reach your end goal usually works – but it’s not always that simple.

If you use sandpaper that is too coarse, you risk irreparably damaging the surface of your material, resulting in an abrasive surface that you will not be able to smoothly polish or paint – and something which may be costly to repair or replace. On the other hand, using sandpaper with too fine a grit will result in a laborious, time-consuming effort to achieve your desired effect.

In other words, it is important to strike a balance between the two, so that your project runs as smoothly as possible, and your efforts are not wasted.

  • Coarser grits of sandpaper are an excellent method if you wish to cut through hard layers of paint or rough edges with ease when dry sanding. These grits are also a fantastic way to shape round edges of solid materials but are not recommended if you wish to sand fine details or sharp edges due to their abrasive nature.
  • Medium grits are great for most wood-based applications, as you can work down the material by applying different levels of pressure whilst sanding. Another added advantage of medium grits is that they add texture to the surface of the wood, which allows the paint to grip, resulting in an aesthetically pleasing final piece.
  • Fine grits are typically used to roughen up glossy paints in preparation for another coat. Great for smooth surfaces, this level of grit is seldom used on the first sanding but is a highly efficient method of remedying scratches on smooth surfaces.
  • Ultra fine grits will essentially smooth out any surface of the material you are working on. From wood to metal, ultra-fine grits are typically reserved for smoothing painted surfaces between coats. Many ultra-fine grits are also used for wet sanding, which creates a fine, gritty slurry that complements the sandpaper's efforts at smoothing. 

Save yourself the time and hassle with sanding equipment 

Here at HSS Hire, we want to ensure that your project runs as smoothly as possible, which is why we are offering top-of-the-range models of sanders for you to rent, at any time, at prices you simply will not find elsewhere.

  • Floor sanders

Bring your floors back to life with our top-of-the-range floor and edging sanders. Whether they are made from old board, traditional parquet or block wooden floors, we offer the best solutions to renovate your living space with our full-coverage floor equipment.

  • Orbital and belt sanders

We have a wide range of orbital sanders appropriate for a range of woodwork and metalwork jobs, promising the most pristine finish. Ranging from car bodywork to shiny boat repairs, to smoothing rough, flat timber surfaces, our powerful belt sander is the professional choice when it comes to looking good.

  • Wall sanders

HSS Hire offers a wide range of tools for wall sanding and preparation, ranging from sanding joints in plasterboard or removing old finishes. Our drywall sanding kit, portable dust extraction system and dust partition effectively minimise the health risks associated with working in dusty environments.

Browse our sanding equipment section available to hire 

As sanding experts, HSS Hire is the UK’s original tool and equipment hire company, specialising in top-of-the-range equipment that guarantees you can get the job done quickly and without the stress of employing someone else to do it for you. 

We understand that hiring contractors can be expensive, unreliable, and time-consuming, and we recognise that you’ll often want to do the job yourself.

At the same time, purchasing your own specialist sanding equipment can be equally as expensive, and you may not have the space to store it when it’s not in use – not to mention the maintenance costs.

By hiring specialist, secure, state-of-the-art tools from us, you can ensure that your sanding projects will be completed efficiently, without any stress, and on your own terms. With HSS, we offer the best tools on the market at highly competitive prices you simply will not find anywhere else.

Renting our sanding equipment has a lower upfront cost than purchasing your own. Once you have completed your sanding job, it’s unlikely that you will need the tools again anytime soon, which is why hiring tools is the perfect solution. Save precious time, space, and money when you rent our specialist sanding equipment here at HSS. 

Our equipment has been thoroughly tested by professionals to ensure that it operates at the highest possible standard to guarantee that you can get the job done. Browse our specialist sanding equipment and contact us today to find out more.

About the Author

Irfan Rehman

Irfan is a member of our E-commerce team. He loves everything DIY and enjoys writing and posting about home and garden projects.

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