To transform your woodwork from ordinary furniture to a professional piece of work, sandpapers are what you need. They can be the best thing that you have ever used as well as your worst nightmare. The line that separates the two is the choice. Thus, the best wood projects get a fantastic finish with the right sandpaper.
Below is a guide that highlights all you need to know about the sanding paper grit:
- Understand the type of materials the grits are made off.
- Determine the grit sizes
- The details of individual grits
Understand the type of material the grits are made off
For effectiveness, determine what the material it’s made of and how best will it serve you in your project. All the types of materials are best for sanding, but only when used properly: below are the various material and where they can be applied best.
Ceramic alumina: this type of sanding material is often used on discs and belt. When redoing the finishing of your furniture is the best tool for scrubbing off the materials. Also, works best in the removal of spots on the furniture or wood. Moreover, due to their quality, they are more durable than aluminum oxide.
Zirconium alumina: this particular type works well with tough materials such as metal, hardwood, and fiberglass. When being used, its particles break, and this makes them sharper and more effective in scrubbing off materials. The application involves discs, Pads, and belts. Also, when you compare it with Aluminum oxide it’s long-lasting.
Silicon carbide: it’s a very effective material when it comes to sanding, but the durability is very limited. It works well on metal, plastic and wood surfaces when removing rust, paint or even rough sanding. Moreover, the material is highly resistant to water, making it perfect for application in water sanding.
In addition, water sanding reduces creates the least scratches on the surface and also prevents airborne dust. Despite being less durable, the application in water sanding makes it best when preventing clogging.
Aluminum oxide: works on surfaces of material such as drywall, wood, metal, and plastics. This makes it the most ideal for any job. But what makes it the best for application are its particles that break during application.
Through breaking, it reveals sharper edges which are even more effective in the scrubbing of the material surfaces. Thus when using power sanding, it’s an ideal choice, it ensures less frequent replacing of the sanding paper. In addition, it’s more durable, ensuring longer use.
Emery: this type allows for multipurpose application. You can use either freehand when sanding or a power tool. Whichever you pick as your choice, still guarantees the best outcome. On the holding side, it’s lined with an emery cloth. For finishing, the fine course does it well, and for scrubbing off the material from the surface, the coarse grit is what you will need.
Garnet: if your project needs hand sanding, then Garnet types never disappoint. It’s best for wood preparation when doing the finishing. Although its particles break creating a sharper and more abrasive surface, it’s less durable.
Determine the grit sizes
Despite its name and the nature of the particles, it’s actually not made of sand, but rather made of natural or synthetic materials. For different coarseness, the particles are sorted into different sizes through sieving. After which they are stuck on the surface of a suitable paper, clothe or sponge thus creating a sanding paper.
The different sizes of the particles and distribution on the bonding material determine the grit of the paper. Moreover, there are two main scales that are mainly applicable in determining the grit of the sanding paper, CAMI (Coated Abrasive Manufacturers Institute) & FEPA (Federation of European Producers of Abrasives).
The properties of the particles, as well as the number and distribution, are what influence the grit ranking of each paper. The lower the number of particles that are of large sizes results to a low grit ranking. While the higher the number of particles with smaller sizes results to higher grit ranking. The unit of measurement is in Microns.
The grit rank of CAMI is quite different from that of FEPA. Below you are provided with the estimation of how they equate to each other:
They are the finest of the abrasives, and often used during finishing on the surface. They are featured with a higher number of particles which are mostly smaller in sizes. Their application is frequently on drywall and wood surfaces. Below are the various categories of Micro Grits, their description, application and also their sizes. Also, it includes their sizes in both CAMI and FEPA scales.
Very fine- it is among the least smooth, with CAMI -240 and an equivalent FEPA of P (240, 280, 320). The particles grains have an approximate diameter of 40.5 – 58.5 micrometer. This type is best when doing the finishing on your drywall and even wood.
Extra fine- it is fine but less than Superfine, hence more abrasive. It has a CAMI -320/ 360 with an equivalent FEPA of P (400, 500, and 600). The grains have an approximate diameter of 25.8- 36.0 micrometers. When you are on your final round of finishing, this type is best to start the polishing process.
Super-fine- it can take care of some small stain but not effective in removal. It has CAMI- 400 to 600, with an equivalent of P (800. 1000 and 1200) on a FEPA scale. The particles diameters are approximately 15.3- 27.3 micrometer. This particular type is best for the final finishing on the surface after you are done with the project.
Ultra -fine- among all the abrasives, this is the most delicate, with a CAMI- 800 to 1000 with an equivalent P (1500, 2000 and 2500) on FEPA scale. The diameter of the particles is approximately 8.4 to 12.6 micrometer. Its application is mostly final polishing.
This type comprises the medium and coarse categories of the sanding paper. They mainly serve as the initial process of sanding. Thus they are more course than Micro grit and serves to clear the surfaces and getting rid of any blemish.
They are effective on materials such as Metal and tough woods which require a tougher clearance. Below are the various categories of Macro Grits, their description, application and also their sizes. Also, it includes their sizes in both CAMI and FEPA scales.
Very fine- under the macro grit category, it’s the least course and lacks the potential to get rid of any blemish. Under CAMI scale has a rating of 80, while under FEPA scale it has a rating of P (60/ 80). Also, it has an estimated diameter of 190 – 265 micrometers. It’s best when doing some finish on bare wood. Also under this category, it serves as the final sanding.
Fine- due to its less coarseness and abrasiveness, its worst in the clearance of old finishes, paint or varnish from the wood. Under the CAMI scale, has a rating of 100 or 120, while under FEPA, it has an equivalent of P (100 / 120). The approximate diameter of the grains is 115 – 162 micrometers. This particular type serves best during finishing preparation of the surface, clearing of water stains and cleaning the plaster.
Medium- this type is a bit coarse and is featured with a surface texture that ranges from medium to coarse. Under the CAMI scale, the rating is 80, while under the FEPA scale, it has an equivalent of P (60/ 80). The approximate diameter of the grains is 190 – 265 micrometer. It is normally applied when preparing the wood for final finishing. Also, it’s effective for removal of varnish.
Course- as compared to the above types, it’s the quickest in the removal of materials from the surface. Under the CAMI scale, it has a rating of (40, 50 and 60), while under the FEPA scale it has an equivalent of P (40/ 50). The approximate diameter of its grains is 336 – 425 micrometers. It’s effective when clearing blemishes, debris and even varnish from a previous project. Moreover, due to its coarseness, you are required to apply the least effort.
Extra course- this is the quickest among all the categories named above, it removes the materials most rapidly. Under the CAMI scale, it has a rating of (24, 30 & 36), while under the FEPA scale it has an equivalent rating of P (30, 12, 36, and 16). The approximated diameter of the grains is 530 – 1,815 micrometers. This is applied at the initial stage of sanding the wood. It functions to create the foundation of sanding by eliminating the large spots and dents.
The details of individual grits
There are those that are rougher than these, but they tend to leave behind too deep scratches. Some are too deep to an extent that is harder to eliminate them and even tougher to smoothen the surface. They are best at eliminating any defects, blemish or dents available on the surface. Moreover, when you need quick elimination of materials on the surface, they are the best.
They are flexible and easily fixed on sanding tools. They are aggressive but not as much as the 80-Grit. Thus they are also quick in clearing materials from the surface but leave behind less impact. Thus they can be the best as initial sanding paper if there are no tougher defects.
This particular type is also best in the elimination of materials from the surface. But it’s limited to less tough defects and blemishes. Moreover, it’s universal in the household. It’s perfect for any small projects. The best part of it is the elimination of materials without leaving marks or scratches behind.
It’s both flexible and versatile. With this particular type, you can eliminate minor defects and blemishes easily. Moreover, you can shift from the 80 or 100 straight to 150 and still get the perfect finish. When dealing with scratches, it will take a little longer but will get the job done nicely and perfectly.
With this level, the smoothing begins. For most projects, some people will apply it as the last stage of sanding. In most cases, it’s considered to perform almost the same as the 220 grade in smoothens. The only difference comes due to the speed of getting the work done. 180 is faster and good for finish preparation.
Among the finishing Grit, it’s the most popular when doing a project using wood. The impact left behind is a smooth surface with almost no scratches left behind. You can use it as the endpoint of sanding. All you have to do is check the surface well for scratches, if there are no visible signs, you can apply your finish.
This particular grade brings the best out of the project which you started with course grades. Through utilizing it, scratches from the course grades are eliminated leaving behind a smooth surface. Thus it’s two in one; it removes the scratches as well as serves as the finish in sanding by creating a smooth surface.
When you talk about a fine grit, this is the initiator of that category. With this grade, the objective is to create a smoother surface than that of Grade 220. Also, through applying it, almost if not all of the scratches are eliminated. With this grade, you are certain the finishing is done well. During application, is much slower and consumes a lot of time. Despite that, the outcome is an exclusive and vibrant look.
With this grade, you talk about perfection. It carries on the where the grade 320 left. It eliminates every last scratch left behind, thus creating the smoothest and elegant looking surface. Compared to other mentioned grades, it takes the longest time, but the outcome is also extremely best. Once through, locating scratches with your naked eyes becomes very impossible.
Thus, when considering the best grit to select for your project, you must think broadly. Because, besides the elimination of unwanted materials from the surface, you have to consider the impact it will leave behind.