Car Bibles is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more
For all those home improvement projects, woodwork or auto jobs, a ready supply of sandpaper is a tool box essential for any DIY-er. From the toughest surface to the finest metal polish and glass-like surface, there is a piece of rough specifically created to buff your project to a smooth finish.
But not all sandpaper is created equal – it’s a crowded market of abrasive types, grit sizes, hand or power tool, coarse or fine. And you need to make sure you get the right type for your DIY project – a rough grade won’t cut it for a car metal finish and a fine grit sandpaper will make little difference to an old, wooden floor.
If you are confused by the choice, then now’s the time to (sand)dust yourself down and let us help you to become a smooth operator with our best sandpaper review.
The Best Sandpaper
This multi-pack from Miady is great value for money and is an easy go-to product for pretty much all your general sandpaper needs. The grit type is a waterproof silicon carbide that has been electro-coated to ensure the abrasive is spread evenly across the paper backing, giving each sheet a nice quality feel.
With 36 sheets per pack, you get 12 types of grit, to take you from wood and metal to auto bodywork polishing. Each sheet is nicely sized too and will wrap neatly around most standard-sized sanding blocks. The pack also includes wet and dry sandpaper sheets with 1000 to 3000 fine grit sandpaper grades which hold together well when put under wetted pressure to get a seriously smooth fine finish to your car’s bodywork. At less than eight bucks for a decent sized variety pack, and a durable quality you could expect from a more premium product, this 36-sheet pack is great for most DIY jobs and so scoops our best sandpaper review Top Pick title.
36-sheet pack with 12 types of abrasive grit
Made of waterproof silicon carbide
Electro-coated for even grit distribution
Can be used for both wet and dry sanding
Suitable for wood, auto, metal and plastic
- Weight4 ounces
A great addition to your electric sander kit, this pack of circular sandpaper discs from Mirka are tough enough for high speed sanding on a range of heavy-duty jobs. Designed to fit the big names – Dewalt DW421/423, 5-inch Ryobi and the Bosch 3107 or 3725 – you can use these 60-grit coarse sandpaper discs to whip off heavy paint, surface material as well as for auto finishing.
Using durable aluminum oxide, the discs have a semi-open grain with a stearate coating to help prevent clogging and to ensure you get a superior sanding result. Plus, Mirka use a high strength resin on every Bulldog Gold sandpaper to provide exceptional grit bonding and so a longer life per disc. The backing paper is also satisfyingly thick, without compromising the disc’s performance. Each pack of Bulldog Gold comes with 50 5-inch discs to see you through the toughest of jobs. You will pay a little extra for the privilege, but these discs work well as automotive sandpaper and will give you the smooth result you are looking for.
60-grit semi-open Aluminum oxide
Stearate coating to prevent clogging
5-inch disc fits a range of electrical sanders
Suited to automotive refinishing, wood and metal processing
Comes in a pack of 50 discs
- Weight3.2 ounces
Dura-Gold are a convenient and easy to use medium to fine grit sandpaper that can be used for a wide range of DIY jobs, from auto bodywork and woodwork, to metal, fiberglass and plastics. By coming on a roll, you can take what you need for the job at hand and keep the rest of the sandpaper protected for a later date, ensuring a consistent quality in the grit.
At 60 feet, the roll is sufficiently long for a host of uses and comes with a pack liner to protect its pressure sensitive adhesive (PSA) from any damage or contamination. What we also like about the Dura-Gold is that the width is pre-cut to fit standard file boards and can be easily removed from the board once used. The sandpaper’s backing is tear-resistant, the grit is fixed with a high strength resin and is covered with stearate coating for a nice, clean sand. Dura-Gold rolls also come in a range of sandpaper grit grades, from 80 to 400. Very versatile and a worthy candidate for our best sandpaper list.
Continuous roll of 60ft premium sandpaper
Cut to fit most standard sanding boards
Aluminum oxide grit from 80 to 400 grade
Liner protects pressure sensitive adhesive
Ideal for auto body, painting, wood and metal work
- ModelDUR CR-150
- Weight1.25 pounds
For a no-nonsense, ‘does what it says on the tin’ all-round sandpaper at a great price, you can’t go wrong with the 11-inch aluminum oxide assorted pack from DIY stalwarts, 3M. Providing 5 sturdy sheets – 1 very fine, 2 fine and 2 medium grit – these are the ones to buy when you are next at the DIY store and pop into the toolbox for when a general sanding job comes calling.
For dry sanding use, you can easily use the 3M assorted sandpaper pack for wood, paint, metal, plastic, drywall and fiberglass and the 9×11 inch sheet size makes them ideal for hand use or for trimming down and wrapping around most standard sized sanding blocks. Tough and durable and with the reliable 3M name on the pack, this sandpaper easily scoops our best value tag. Not suited to wet sanding.
Combination of 100, 150 and 220 grade grit
Use to sand wood, paint, metal, plastic, drywall, and fiberglass
Measures 9 inches by 11 inches per sheet, 5 sheets per pack
Includes 1 sheet very fine, 2 sheets fine, 2 sheets medium
Durable and fits most standard sized sanding blocks
- Weight4.8 ounces
If you are looking for a convenient all-rounder that can easily cope with both wet and dry jobs, then the 42-multi sandpaper pack from PaxCoo is your man. First up, the quality of the backing paper is excellent, and it is also tear-resistant so won’t fall apart or crumble in the middle of a full-on sanding job. Each sheet contains silicone carbide grit that is electro-coated which makes it suitable for both wet and dry use.
And the grit range on offer is pretty impressive too – from 120 to 3000 grit sandpaper, this assortment pack covers all your coarse/medium to extra fine sanding needs. Use by hand or pop onto a sanding block, you get great control over your precision sanding, making these sheets a great choice for removing scuffs or smoothing wood and furniture or wet sanding blemishes out of your car.
42-piece pack, with 3 sheets of each grit size
14 Silicone carbide grit grades – 120 to 3000
High quality, tear-resistant backing paper
Wet and dry sandpaper that’s electro-coated
Each sheet is 9 inches long
- Weight7.8 ounces
The Norton ProSand is an excellent fine grit sandpaper which, with its ‘self-sharpening’ grit, will make a really precision job of your smoothing and finishing. As both a sandpaper for metal and wood, the ProSand comes with a 220-grit grade made from zirconia alumina combine, which offers three times the sanding performance of standard aluminum oxide. The grit also sharpens back up as you sand, making a really durable sandpaper sheet that is fast in cutting through the rough.
With its open-coat construction, the grit is also nicely clog-resistant, and the stearate coating helps to extend its overall abrasive shelf-life. We also like the flexible but thick paper backing. A high-performing go-to after priming, sealing or staining to beautifully smooth finish your job.
Pack of 20, 220-grit grade sheets
high-quality zirconia alumina
Stearate coating and fiber-reinforced backing
Open-coat for reduced clogging
Use after priming, sealing or staining to smooth surfaces
- BrandNorton Abrasives
- Weight12 ounces
When it is time to fine sand your job to a quality smooth finish, this 90-piece pack from Verones will have the best grit size for you. From automotive sanding, wood furniture finishing, wood turning finishing, metal finishing, this is a super all-rounder, with grit grades ranging from 400 through to 3000.
With its 9 types of grit, this fine grit sandpaper assortment with cover all you need from art and craft, wood work, metal, and plastic applications for buffing and polishing. These fine grits are also ideal automotive sandpapers and will help to give your bodywork job a super, professional finish. Made from silicone carbide and electro-coated for durability, they work well both wet and dry. When used wet, they also have impressive holding powers and won’t crumble or tear apart under pressure when using. Each sheet comes in a convenient 8.85 inch x 3.54 inch shape that can be easily cut down to size for smaller sanding blocks.
90-piece multiple grit sandpaper set
Nine fine-grade grits from 400 – 3000
Made from durable electro-coated silicone carbide
Strong enough for both wet and dry use
Use for auto, wood and metal
- ModelDIY Crafts ® India 202
- Weight12 ounces
Made by Dremel, this 18-piece electric Multi-Max sandpaper pack is certainly a friendly soul as it is also compatible with Fein’s Multimaster and the Bosch multi-X.
With a choice of three grits – the coarser 80, mid-range 120 and the finer 240 grit – this is a versatile assortment pack for most every day sanding jobs, although the pack could perhaps do with a coarse grade grit to really make it an all-round set. Use the 80 to sand off old paint, the 120 to get your surface primed and the 240 fine grit sandpaper for a smooth finish. The Dremel multi pack is also quick and easy to fit so there’s no delays in your DIY project.
18-piece sandpaper pack for the Dremel Multi Max
Also fits the Fein multi-master and the Bosch multi-X
Three medium to fine grit grades – 80, 120 and 240
Quick fit accessory system for easy attachment
Ideal for sanding, prep for primer and smooth finishes
- Weight2.4 ounces
Made from durable silicon carbide abrasive, 3M’s WetorDry sandpaper is a good option for achieving a quality finish on a range of wood and metal surfaces. With a 1000-grade grit that has a nice open layout to reduce clogging, WetorDry has been specifically designed for wet or dry sanding between coats of varnish, lacquer, paint and other surface finishes. This quality fine grit sandpaper cuts fast and smooth and can also be used to work on and repair surface defects.
The paper backing comes in two weights of waterproof paper to suit the polishing job at hand – A weight for contouring and C weight for levelling general surfaces. Also beneficial as an automotive sandpaper, as well as a sandpaper for metal, the 3M WetorDry is robust and won’t crumble. And it can handle water or oil impressively well for a long-lasting use each time. The size of each sheet – 9-inch x 11-inch – is also big enough to use as it is or trim down for smaller or trickier jobs.
Silicon carbide abrasive for a fast and smooth cut
1000 grade grit with open coat to reduce clogging
Ideal for sanding between coats of varnish, lacquer or paint
Long-lasting and can be used wet or dry
Convenient 9-inch x 11-inch sheet size
- Weight1.6 ounces
A heavy-duty medium grit sandpaper that fits into your drum sander so you can take on those large wood sanding jobs with ease and precision. This premium pick from Red Label Abrasives fits the Delta 18-36 or any other drum sander that can work with 2-inch wide strips. It comes in a convenient 60 foot continuous roll so you can cut the perfect length so you can keep sanding for longer – ideal for when you are faced with a large wooden floor.
The medium grade grit is made from premium aluminum oxide with an open grain that works to resist heat and reduce any surface clogging or build-up. The durability of this hard-working drum sander roll is boosted by the tough cloth packing to reduce the risk of mid-job wear and tear. The grit is also nicely abrasive and will cut through paint, varnish and surface imperfections, to prepare you for priming and re-finishing. Our premium pick in this best sandpaper review that if you are a drum sander, is actually really good value for money.
2-inch wide drum sander roll fits: Delta 18-36 and other models
Five sandpaper wraps per roll
Aluminum oxide open grain resists heat and build up
Tough cloth backed X weight material
cuts through paint, varnish and surface imperfections
- BrandRed Label Abrasives
- Weight2.13 pounds
Best Sandpaper Buying Guide & FAQ
What to Look for in a Sandpaper
Picking the best sandpaper for your DIY or auto job and knowing just how abrasive it needs to be are essential for getting the very best end results. We can help you decipher all the numbers and tech jargon on the packaging, so you know you are on the right sandpaper track:
You want sandpaper to do a specific job – whether that is to whip off paint or rust, smooth down a stripped bonnet or shape a piece of wood. To get the right result, you need to have true grit – and by this we mean the best rough surface. The best sandpaper is graded based on the number of abrasive particles per inch it has – the lower the number the coarser the sandpaper grit is. You now need to match the grit number to the particular job at hand.
As a guide, coarse sandpaper will come in at 40-60 grit (extra coarse is 24-36), medium rates between 80-120 and fine sandpaper is 150-180. Then there is very fine (220-240), extra fine (280-320) and even super fine (360 and above).
Choose coarser papers for removing paint and varnish or sanding old wooden floors; medium for general wood sanding and shaping; and fine paper for smoothing and fine-polishing the job. Extra fine grit sandpaper can also be used between coats of paint or varnish.
Sandpaper comes in two grades – commercial and industrial. The main differences are the material used for the grit, backing paper and the adhesive used to hold the grit onto the back. Industrial grades use higher quality materials for all three.
- Open or close
The best sandpaper can also be rated as having either an ‘open coat’ or a ‘closed coat’. This shows the grouping of the grit particles – either open, which have larger gaps between the particles or closed, where the grit is grouped much more closely together. If you are looking to work wood, opt for an open-coat paper as it clogs less often so good for softer woods. Closed sandpaper is generally more durable and can be used on larger, tougher jobs.
Types of Sandpaper
There are six main types of sandpaper with different levels of abrasive grit designed for different jobs, and not all are just meant for woodworking:
Also known as flint paper, this is a lightweight paper that is typically a pale-yellow color. This type of fine sandpaper disintegrates easily and is best used for smoothing and polishing.
- Garnet paper
Brownish-red in color, this sandpaper is most commonly used for woodworking. It is best for final sanding as it does not work the wood as fast as other papers but it does leave a better finish.
- Emery paper
Emery works for both hand sanding and power sanding metal. Use coarser grits to remove rust or paint and finer grits to polish.
- Aluminum oxide
Known as the ‘jack of all trades’ sandpaper, this works well with wood, paint, or metal. It is also used in electric power sanders as it is durable and hard working.
- Silicon carbide
This dark gray sandpaper is used for finishing metals or for ‘wet sanding’ when you use water as a lubricant. It is extremely hard and not usually used for woodworking.
As one of the most durable abrasives, this is the speed monster of all the sandpapers and can whip through a considerable amount of material. Often used for belt sanders, it can also be used for hand shaping wood, although care needs to be taken as it can have a habit of leaving a rough finish.
How to Use Sandpaper
Once you have chosen the best sandpaper for your specific DIY or auto job, polishing up on your sanding technique will mean you get a smooth finish. If you are sanding by hand, opt to use a sanding block, around which you can wrap your chosen sandpaper for a secure and stable grip. For a general sanding job, start off with a lower grit coarse sandpaper to remove those surface lumps and imperfections and apply enough pressure to keep the paper in place and moving smoothly.
If you are sanding wood, sand in the direction of the grain and not against it and move back and forth in a straight motion. Keep a sustained motion and pressure across the surface and don’t neglect the corners or edges. Wipe the surface clean of sanding dust and then repeat with your medium grit paper (or the appropriate paper for the job) before finishing with a finest-grade sandpaper grit for a final smooth. Wipe clean and check your handy work – if there are still lumps and bumps or paintwork present, repeat until you are totally happy.
Best Sandpaper FAQ:
Q: What is Sandpaper?
A: Sandpaper is a coated sheet of paper or cloth, which has abrasive ‘grit-like’ material glued to one side to create a rough surface. It doesn’t actually have sand as an abrasive – today’s sandpapers use alternative abrasives such as aluminum oxide or silicon carbide. They can also have natural grit such as emery or garnet.
Sandpaper comes in a range of grit sizes for a host of different sanding jobs and is typically used to remove material such as paint or varnish or to smooth down and prepare a surface. They can also be used to make a surface rougher, for example when preparing for an adhesive.
Q: What is the Meaning of Sandpaper Grit?
A: Grit is the abrasive material that is glued to the surface of the sandpaper and provides a surface of varying coarseness that is used to polish, sand or strip a surface depending how hard and rough the grit is. A sandpaper’s rating is determined by its grit – which is the sharp particles glued to its surface – and the grit size – the number of particles per inch of sandpaper. The larger the grit size, the smoother the fine sandpaper and conversely, the smaller the grit size, the coarser the paper.
Sandpaper grit can also be classed as ‘open’ by which there are more gaps between the particles and ‘closed’, which means there is less space. The more open-coat sandpaper works well with wood as it gathers the dust while closed paper is much more durable.
Q: What is 2000 Grit Sandpaper Used For?
A: Sandpaper with a 2000 grit rating is an ultra-fine sandpaper that can be used for a final sanding to achieve a smooth finish on a car’s paint or bodywork. It can also be used removing light clear coat scratches that can’t be removed by rubbing compound and buffing.
2000 grit sandpaper is best used wet when used for fine finishes as the lubrication helps to carry away any grit particles which could ruin the finish if they weren’t easily wept away. This means the 2000 grit sandpaper needs to be soaked before use; the best liquid to use is clean water with a small amount of detergent to lower the surface tension of the water for a smoother glide. In some cases, oil can also be used.
Our Top Pick
This well-priced 120 – 3000 assorted grit sandpaper pack from s scoops our review’s Top Pick thanks to its combination of value, quality and variety. You get a super-useful range of 12 different grit sizes to take you from rough sanding to fine-polishing. The paper quality also easily stands up to wet use for those delicate bodywork jobs. A great buy for your tool box, ready to go for everyday use.