The different types of sandpaper

What Are The Different Types Of Sandpaper?

Most of our clients hate drywall sanding. Meanwhile, others love it. It means you’re about to be done with your current job and more importantly, you’re about to be paid. However, if you’re new to drywall sanding or your knowledge of drywall sanding is lacking, knowing the type of sandpaper needed for the job can be confusing. In this article, we will be looking at the many differences between sandpaper coatings including paper-backed sandpaper, foam-backed sandpaper, and mesh sandpaper. As a bonus, we will look at the different sandpaper grits and when you want to use certain sandpaper.

Paper Backed Sandpaper

Paper-backed sandpaper is traditionally what people think of when someone talks about sandpaper. Paper-backed sandpaper is weighted differently for different use cases. The weights range from A-F. The weight of the paper determines the class the sandpaper is grouped. Here is what the following paper weights mean. 

  • A Weight Paper Backed Sandpaper: Light Weight. Used for finishing where fine grits are required. 
  • C Weight Paper Backed Sandpaper: Medium Weight. Used for folded or flat areas and is ideal for cabinet work.  
  • D Weight Paper Backed Sandpaper: Medium-Heavy Weight. 
  • E Weight Paper Backed Sandpaper: Strong-Heavy Weight. The most common weighted paper-backed sandpaper is used for belts and discs. 
  • F Wight Paper Backed Sandpaper: Strong-Heavy Weight. Used for wide belts and polishing rolls. Mostly used for industrial cabinet and furniture sanding.  

Paper-backed sandpaper is the most commonly used type of abrasive because of how light paper is compared to other types of sanding abrasives. Its lightweight properties allow it to produce less heat and have less of a fear of overheating the surface or machine being used. 

While paper-backed sandpaper is light and the perfect abrasive for flat surfaces such as walls, it is also the weakest of the three abrasives in this article. Paper can easily tear and is not suitable for wet sanding. If your job involves wet sanding, we recommend using foam-backed sandpaper.

Foam Backed Sandpaper

Foam-backed sandpaper, also known as sponge-backed sandpaper, is the ideal abrasive for wet sanding. You will want to wet sand tight corners or small patches after your first sanding pass. This allows for an easier clean-up process as particles get trapped in the foam or sponge while wet.  

Foam or sponge-backed sandpaper is also useful for dry sanding. Foam is a flexible material and is useful for harder-to-reach areas. The foam will then contour to the surface that requires it to be sanded. Foam-backed sandpaper is also useful for removing flaws between taping coats. Easily remove tape knife marks and swirls.

Mesh Sandpaper Disks

Mesh sandpaper discs are mostly used for electric sanders where dust extraction is a priority. These disks are made from a mesh material allowing for drywall dust to easily pass through and be vacuumed into the sander. The screen mesh material also allows for a cooler sanding experience than other abrasives. This cooler experience means you can get more out of the mesh sandpaper than regular sandpaper. The one negative is that mesh sandpaper disks are more costly than traditionally paper-backed sandpaper.

Drywall sanding grits

Now that we know the three most popular drywall sanding abrasives let’s learn about the different grits and the differences between them. Coarse sandpaper is not recommended for sanding finer details. 

Coarse - Extremely Coarse 60 - 80

Coarse sandpaper is rated between 60-80 grit. Coarse sandpaper is used for old paint and sand wood with rough edges. Using coarse sandpaper for finer details is not recommended.

Medium Grit 100-150

Medium-grit sandpaper is rated between 100-150 grit. Medium-grit sandpaper is a general-use grit that allows you to apply more pressure for harder sand or ease the pressure for a finer grind.

Fine Grit 180 - 220

Fine-grit sandpaper is rated between 180-220 grit. Grits used in the fine grit range are typically used for second or third sandings. These grits are useful in furniture sanding and roughening glossy paint in preparation for another coat. 

Ultra-fine grit

Ultra-fine sandpaper is rated above 220 grit with common grit levels being 320. The finer the grit the better it is for wet sanding. 320-grit sandpaper is often used as the first sanding for countertop surfaces. 

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